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