50 student athletes to watch: Part 1

Posted 7/14/09

It’s not hard to see where the high talent is going to come from for the coming high school sports seasons. Throughout the 2008-09 academic …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

50 student athletes to watch: Part 1


It’s not hard to see where the high talent is going to come from for the coming high school sports seasons.

Throughout the 2008-09 academic seasons, several incoming seniors and underclassmen grabbed the spotlight from not only their respective communities but in most cases a national, collegiate level as well. Without missing a bit of training and determination, these same fledgling sports career should continue to flourish in the coming school year.

Below is the start of Colorado Community Newspapers’ account of the top 50 student athletes to keep an eye on in the 2009-2010 academic sports seasons, as determined by CCN’s sports staff. The list will be reported in a five-part series with 10 students described in each installment. The final roster of 50 athletes is listed in no particular order.

Student athletes to qualify for the recognition are expected to attend one of the high schools located in CCN’s sports coverage areas. School athletics administration, coaches and readers also contributed to the 50 selections by making their own suggestions over a four-week period.

The following is the first set of 10 student athletes:

Gus Marker, Castle View

Marker is described as one of those preps athlete most coaches want to build their programs around on his work ethic alone. A triple-sport Sabercats athlete his freshman season, with football, wrestling and lacrosse, Marker was a fullback and on defense on the Cats’ undefeated 11-0 freshmen team last season. However, with his development, gridiron coaches expect to use him at defensive end and tight end, competing for a starting spot on varsity.

“He has really good control of his body for being as big as he is and as young as he is,” Sabercats football coach Ryan Hollingshead said. “He’s a good, well-rounded athlete who can play almost anywhere on the field for you.”

In his first season on the Cats’ mats, Marker finished the year downtown as one of four Castle View state qualifiers in the Class 4A wrestling state championships. The incoming sophomore finished his season with a 33-17 record after his state debut in the 171-pound bracket. Marker led the Cats in takedowns and was third in total back points.

“I felt that Gus had a great season at one of the toughest weight classes in the state,” wrestling coach Nick Jasurda said. “He responded well to mid-season adversity by challenging himself daily and learning to relax by having faith in his training.”

Jackson Julian, Chaparral

Julian has been one of the hardest working grapplers in the Wolverines’ system for years. At 152 pounds, Julian, an incoming senior, came into the Class 5A state wrestling championships as the top-seeded competitor but eventually took a loss to the eventual state silver medalist Scott Lohndorf of Fairview. After battling through the consolation bracket with two decisions, a major decision and a second-period pinfall in the third-place bout, the Wolverine went home with the bronze and a record of 43-6.

“[Julian] has great focus. He has great vision,” Wolverines coach Rod Padilla said. “He understands what it takes to be the best academically and athletically. He’s the leader of my team, and the kids respect and follow him.

“No matter which way the wind is blowing, he’s going to make the right decision for his family, his teammates and his team.”

Since his junior high school season, Julian was second in the greco state championships, second in the freestyle state championships, and won the greco side of the South Plains USA Wrestling tournament in Kansas, which had eight states represented among its competitors. He was third in freestyle at South Plains. He was also recently named to compete in the Nebraska team camp all-star dual.

Padilla said the amount of hours Julian puts in on the mat and his unconventional training off the mat, including flipping tractor tires, make Julian unique.

“He’s a student of the game,” Padilla said. “He’s always finding a new way to hit something or always trying to learn a new technique. He’s also willing to come to coaches for advice.”

Cody Kent, Douglas County

Kent’s name has quickly become synonymous with Colorado junior golf and the past few preps golf seasons. Kent, an incoming senior at Douglas County High School, was the state’s Class 5A boys golf runner-up behind teammate and title winner Derek Fribbs.

Kent’s involvement with the Colorado Junior Golf Association throughout his high school year has allowed him exposure to the state’s best junior competition, where he remains ranked No. 3. He should be the No. 1 iron man for the Huskies this fall, helping County defend its state championship team title from last year.

At the state dance last season, Kent shot a 148 at Eisenhower Golf Course in Colorado Springs. So far in the present CJGA season, Kent shot a 4-over-par 144 to win the Arrowhead Championship in Littleton, shot 3-over-par 147 at the Haywhacker Championship in Steamboat Springs, shot a 218 over the three-day CGA Junior Stroke Play Championship in Eaton, and he finished the U.S. Junior Amateur Sectional Qualifying in Greeley having shot 142, a score that won the high school title for Fribbs last year.

Kent’s average has improved to remain among the state’s best and sets him up for a solid fight this fall for a state title against other top juniors like Wyndam Clark, David Holtgrewe, Clark Shafer, Brendan Connelly and others.

Mitch Griebel, Heritage

There aren’t a whole lot of reasons not to watch incoming senior quarterback Mitch Griebel of Heritage High School. A winner of the Old Spice Red Zone Player of the Year after his junior season, Griebel has earned All-Conference nods every year he’s suited up with the Eagles. He has also been All-State for two years and All-Colorado in 2008.

In addition, Griebel holds 14 school records and has generated more than 4,500 yards total offense. Griebel has passed or run for 61 touchdowns in his high school career thus far and has amassed 205 career tackles. In 2008, serving as his team’s captain, he was awarded the Class 4A West Metro Conference special teams Player of the Year. His 24.5 average yards per punt return is in the all-time Colorado High School Activities Association record listings.

A starter on both the Heritage Elite 8 baseball team and the Sweet 16 basketball team, the Eagles’ quarterback, defensive back and kick returner has had an offer to play quarterback at the U.S. Air Force Academy, with TCU, Kansas State and Colorado State looming. Eagles coach and Mitch’s father Mike Griebel said the quarterback’s growing up around high school football has contributed to his success.

“He is the product of being a coach’s kid. He’s been around it since he was 3-years old. He’s a 15-year veteran of high school sports, and you benefit from that,” Mike Griebel said. “He’s a very fierce, competitive kid. He rises up and makes plays when you need them. … With two minutes to go in the game, I want him at quarterback. He’s going to get it done.

“I think we will be one very fun team to watch, and the Eagles will go far next year.”

Eleanor Fulton, Highlands Ranch

As an incoming junior, Fulton already has more track and field championships to her credit than some kids get to ever see. Fulton, who has found her niche as a distance runner, has been dominating run events at the Class 5A state championships for the past two years, and she is on the cusp of making her mark in cross country.

What’s more, some of the reasons to continue watching what Fulton does at the high school level are outside the realm of preps competition.

Outside of being 2009 state champion in the 800-meter run and the 1,600, and a silver medalist in the 3,200, she was a 2008 champion in the 1,500 and silvered in the 3,200. She set the national age-group record in the 2,000 steeple chase at the Great Southwest Track and Field Classic in Albuquerque this year.

In cross country, Fulton finished seventh at her freshman state run and was fifth last year as a junior, helping the Falcons squad finish second. Recently, as a member of the Zoom Track Club, Fulton won the 2009 World Youth Trials’ 2000-meter steeplechase event with a personal record of 6 minutes, 48.01 seconds.

Bryan Manley, Legend

Among the rising talent at Legend High School, after its first year in existence in 2008-09, incoming sophomore Manley could be turning in a solid set of seasons next year. As a freshman, the budding Titan was named the school’s male athlete of the year.

Coach Roger Miller describes Manley as a versatile runner with his shoes in every event from the 400 meters to the 3,200. Last season, he booked a time of 17 minutes, 40 seconds for a 5-kilometer distance. Miller said Manley was one of the team’s most outstanding athletes last season.

On the roundball court, Titans coach Kevin Boley said Manley has an uncommon toughness and intensity most players his age don’t have, and he’s one of their best on defense.

“He brings a work ethic and a kind of blue collar mentality to everything he does,” Boley said. “One of the things us basketball coaches like to talk about is toughness, and I think Bryan exhibits that in everything he does.”

While Manley may not rank high in the offensive statistics, Boley said he’s the player a coach wants to have assigned to an opposing team’s best player, whether he’s in the guard or post position.

“With everything we’ve talked about trying to establish tradition and culture, he’s the kind of kid you want to have in that first group,” the coach said. “He embodies those core values in a basketball player and a person.”

Taylor Guitierrez, Mountain Vista

Guitierrez appears to be a rising heavyweight from the Mountain Vista wrestling program. He started wrestling as a sophomore, but it wasn’t until his commitment to post-season wrestling and pre-season training that he broke out for his junior year.

“To say he was dramatically horrible [his sophomore year] is an understatement,” Golden Eagles wrestling coach Frank LaVoie said.

Last season, Guitierrez finished his junior campaign with 26 wins, 18 of which were by pinfall. He also finished third in his weight class at the Mountain Vista Survivor Series, third at the Columbine Invitational, second at the Fort Collins Invitational, third at the Poudre Invitational, fourth at regionals and was a Class 5A state qualifier.

What’s more, every loss Guitierrez had last season came from an opponent who was a graduating senior. He never lost to an underclassman. This past spring, he won several greco and freestyle tournaments and will soon benefit from camping at Adams State.

“With his victories and state qualification as a junior, I think he may be the first All-State wrestling Golden Eagle,” LaVoie said.

Marcus Parry, Littleton

An incoming senior at Littleton High School, Parry has been a pillar of the Lions boys basketball team, while showing strength in their golf and baseball programs as well. Parry. as a junior, helped the Lions improve from nine to 16 wins in the last roundball season and their first post-season win in five years.

He led the team in three-point shooting and two-point field goal percentage at 60 percent. He finished his junior year with 153 points total, 50 points more than his sophomore season. His shooting percentage from his sophomore year to junior has almost doubled.

Standing 6 feet 4 inches, Parry gets plenty of time on the planks outside of the preps season with is Amateur Athletic Union year-round ball with club programs like the Streakers, with whom he played 50 games in the 2008-09 season, and the Colorado Chaos. Last April, Parry led the Streakers in an upset over the Aurora Kings with a career high 33 points.

Over the past three months, Parry has been in the weight room and shooting nearly every day since the Lions’ season ended.

“He probably hasn’t put the basketball down for more than a day at a time since we stopped playing,” Lions coach Ray Van Heukelem said. “Marcus is definitely a player we’re counting on next year.”

Although he aspires to go from a good shooter to a great shooter before his next preps season, coach Van Heuelem said his strength is mostly on defense.

“He just recognizes what’s going on on the floor. He can shut people down,” the coach said.

In addition to basketball, Parry earned a letter for his junior season with Lions boys golf and has swung the bat with the Lions diamond program for two years.

Riley Lange, Ponderosa

Incoming senior Lange is one of the Mustangs football team’s most improved players. Last season, Lange earned All-Conference honors at the linebacker position.

“He was in the offensive line as a sophomore, cause he was such a big kid,” Mustangs football coach Randy Huff said. “We didn’t really see him as a linebacker until we saw we needed to get him in the middle of the field and let him run.”

Last year, Lange was put at defensive end during the off-season and pre-season. After his first couple games, and having done so well against Chatfield, Huff and company decided to move him to linebacker but didn’t have a chance to drill him on keys and leads. They tried not to overload him with linebacker training through the season. Huff said Lange may not have even understood the position completely until Week 7.

With a full off-season to use toward training Lange at linebacker and on the coverages Ponderosa is able to do this coming season, football fans may be seeing big hits from this incoming senior. As it stands, Lange has already been offered a football scholarship to Wyoming. Others are interested but waiting to see what the first couple weeks of the season brings, Huff said.

Dillon Bonnell, ThunderRidge

The word “noticed” is an understatement when speaking about incoming senior Bonnell. As a baseball player, Bonnell has 12 or more offers from Division I colleges and universities such as Nebraska, Kentucky, Arizona State, Oregon and others who have made him an offer.

For his final season with the Grizzlies’ baseball team, he is expected to start at first base and be one of the team’s top power hitters.

His junior year with ThunderRidge earned him second-team All-Continental League honors and he finished the season with a batting average of close to .600, as well as a first-team academic All-State nod.

As a varsity football player, Bonnell was first team All-Southern League, first-team academic All-League and received All-State honors. Bonnell has received almost 20 football scholarship offers to an impressive list of institutions, including Washington, Stanford, Utah, Colorado University, Tennessee, Nebraska and many more.

Possibly the most exciting reason to watch Bonnell in the 2009-2010 is not to see how he does in his final high school football and baseball season, but rather to see where he ends up after graduation.

Student athletes to watch: Part I

Gus Marker - Castle View

Jackson Julian - Chaparral

Cody Kent - Douglas County

Mitch Griebel - Heritage

Eleanor Fulton - Highlands Ranch

Bryan Manley - Legend

Taylor Guitierrez - Mountain Vista

Marcus Parry - Littleton

Riley Lange - Ponderosa

Dillon Bonnell - ThunderRidge




Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.