A very talented 10

Posted 7/2/10

The results are in. At least, some of them. To the best of our ability, and with only 50 slots to make mention, the 50 Student Athletes to Watch in …

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A very talented 10


The results are in. At least, some of them.

To the best of our ability, and with only 50 slots to make mention, the 50 Student Athletes to Watch in 2010-11 series is under way.

While the total list of 50 kids is being finalized, we begin with our first crop of 10 kids who are expected to have great seasons in one or more high school sports in the coming academic year.

The list is not presented in any particular order, and the selections made for the series are simply 50 athletes to watch, not the only 50 kids to keep an eye on.

Of course, there are far more than 50 kids among our coverage areas who are expected to do great things in 2010-11, but the following is our best account of some of them, based on suggestions from high school coaches, administration, CCN readers and sports staff.

Mike McCormick, Ponderosa

Mike McCormick had a bit of a break-out season last spring, swimming for the co-op high school swim team in Parker, which includes athletes from Chaparral, Legend, Ponderosa and Elizabeth high schools, under the coaching of Warren Hemming.

McCormick finished as the Class 5A runner-up in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 58.18 seconds. In the 200 individual medley, he booked a time of 1:58.68 at the state meet to finish 10th. During the season, he also swam state-qualifying times in the 50 freestyle, the 100 free and the 200. McCormick was responsible for scoring all of the team’s 30 points at the season finale in Fort Collins and was the team’s leading swimmer in each of his qualified events.

As a freshman, he was one of two swimmers from Parker to make the state team in individual events. His sophomore year he was again one of two Parker swimmers to make the state team, in the breaststroke and the IM. Having made it only to the consolation races his first two seasons, finishing as the breaststroke runner-up and top 10 IM’ers shows his improvement, which is expected to continue into his senior outing.

In his upcoming season, McCormick aspires to make state marks in all the strokes and team relay events. He swims year-round with the Denver University Hilltoppers club. He swam at sectional meets with the Hilltoppers last year.

Tyler Servais, Douglas County

Tyler Servais will be a senior in the coming academic year. Also known for his 4.1 grade-point average, Servais is expected to be and continue to be a high contributor to both the Douglas County football and baseball teams.

As a team captain, playing catcher and a switch-hitter with Huskies baseball, Servais, who stands 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, finished his junior campaign with a .459 batting average in the Continental League, where he earned first-team All-Conference honors. He hit .413 overall.

In his junior season, he had four home runs and 18 runs batted in. He booked a fielding average of .985, 1.000 among Continental opponents. With his production last spring, Servais earned the Huskies’ MVP honor.

As a sophomore, he was a second-team All-Conference selection and has been a part of County varsity ball since his freshman season. He lettered in both his sophomore and junior years.

On the Huskies gridiron, coach Jeff Ketron said Servais was the team’s go-to guy when they needed to get a first down last year.

“Tyler is an outstanding leader who performs not only on the field but in the classroom, as well,” Ketron said. “He was a second-team all-conference performer at tight end. … He lead our team in receptions last year.”

Chase Wheeler, Castle View

Castle View baseball had a breakout season as a team last spring, having claimed its first Class 4A Colorado Springs Metro League title. However, with heavy contribution among many at the plate, Chase Wheeler is one of the Sabercats to return to the dish as a senior in the 2011 season.

As a junior, Wheeler finished the season with a batting average of .519 in 52 at-bats. He led the team in home runs, having sent four over the fence, and RBIs with 30, stolen bases with 10 and triples with seven. He also connected for two doubles. In addition, Wheeler had the second highest on-base percentage on the team at .591. Sabercats baseball coach Shawn Wyss said Wheeler’s athleticism has helped him make plays when he hits the ball into the gap.

“He’s very confident at the plate,” Wyss said. “He’s had a phenomenal season. … We’re going to have a bigger challenge for us next year, moving up to Class 5A. We’re going to need him to have a great year for us to be successful.”

In the league-title winning game against Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, the would-be senior went 2-for-3 at the dish with a double and three RBIs. Among his other junior season highlights, Wheeler went 2-for-4 with a double and a home run against Woodland Park on the road, and he went 2-for-2 with a home run against Mesa Ridge at home.

In the field, Wheeler has been playing shortstop but will be moved to right field, where his arm and mobility can help chase down balls, Wyss said.

“He has great arm strength and range,” the coach said. “He has great power and a lot of contact. He’s got a lot of tools that make him a great high school baseball player and hopefully a great college baseball player, as well.

“He’s a phenomenal student, as well. He’s kind of the all-American boy.”

Stephanie Gerber, Arapahoe

Stephanie Gerber has improved anything in which she has participated since her freshman year, including individual times in track and with the Warriors cheer team the last two years.

After having won numerous Class 5A state medals in track and field during her freshman and sophomore seasons, Gerber ended her junior year with a silver medal in the girls 100-meter high hurdles. She came in behind champion Kami Mendez, a sophomore from Denver East, by a mere 0.01 of a second.

She was also fifth in the 300 hurdles, where she was tied in the preliminaries with the eventual state-title winner Olivia Anderson, of Cherry Creek.

Gerber was also eighth in the triple jump. She contributes to the Warrior girls 1,600-meter relay team which took sixth at state.

In addition to her achievements in track which should only improve come spring 2011, Gerber also helped the Warriors cheerleading team for a runner-up finish at the 2008 state championships. Last season, she and the rest of the Warriors reached the pinnacle to earn the state title.

Skylar Johnson, Chaparral

Doing her part to help Chaparral volleyball return to the Class 5A state championship in 2009, Skylar Johnson is on par to be the Wolverines’ first four-year varsity volleyball letter winner after her 2010 season. Mckinzie Moydell would have been the team’s first, but she was injured during her junior season and did not get to play that year.

In her junior outing, Johnson earned a second-team All-Conference selection and played the right side in the front row for Chaparral and the middle-back of the back row. She also set for the Wolverines in one rotation.

Johnson has been recruited to continue her career at the net after graduation by Ole Miss, to which she has made a verbal commitment to attend and play there in 2011-12. Wolverines coach T.R. Ellis said she will be one of Chaparral’s setters this season and a hitter on the right side. She is expected to be a setter for Ole Miss, Ellis said.

“Skylar is a talented all-around volleyball player,” the Wolverines coach said. “She has an explosive arm swing and can attack anywhere along the net. Her favorite attack zone is at the antenna on the right side. She is also an excellent passer and was one of our primary passers in the 2009 season.”

Johnson led Chaparral in aces, delivering 39 her junior season.

“Skylar is a joy to have on the volleyball court,” Ellis said. “She loves to have fun and can buckle down and get any job done that needs to be done. She has been running her club court as a setter for the past two seasons and will be one of our 6-2 setters in 2010.”

Zach Loptein, Lutheran-Parker

With his senior year at Lutheran High School-Parker to come, Zach Loptein already has earned 12 varsity letters between four Lions sports, including golf, soccer, basketball and baseball. He has earned All-Conference honors in soccer, hoops and twice on the Lions’ diamond.

Helping Lutheran-Parker soccer to a 12-3 record last season, Loptein helped with 10 goals and seven assists, including two goals in one game against Denver Academy and another two against Nederland.

Loptein also helped the Lions boys basketball to another Class 2A District 7 championship and a 22-5 record. He averaged 5.48 points per game last year and led the team in steals with 58.

Last spring, Loptein was the Lions’ baseball team’s MVP and a first-team All-Conference selection for the past two seasons. He was honorable mention his freshman year.

“Zach was our leading hitter this past year, and in reality was our only consistent hitter in a season where we really struggled offensively,” coach Jason Block said.

Loptein finished his junior year hitting .386 with two home runs, 13 RBIs and 10 doubles, which was a school record, and six stolen bases. When he’s not pitching, where he went 2-2 in four starts, he plays shortstop.

“[Loptein] is the finest defensive infielder we have ever had,” Block said. “He has made some absolute web gems from the shortstop position, making diving plays up the middle, throwing from his knees in the hole. Zach should be our best overall player coming back next season, and clearly our best offensive player. He is our best overall male athlete at the school, starting in four varsity sports since his freshman year.”

Jimmy Ellis, Heritage

Jimmy Ellis has been a heavy contributor already for Heritage’s Class 4A state championship winning football team in 2009, and the school’s boys basketball team and baseball team in past seasons. However, he is expected to truly command notice with his senior seasons.

Among his highlights of the 2009 state title gridiron season, Ellis rushed for 96 yards in Heritage’s 56-24 win over Dakota Ridge. He had 93 receiving yards, including a 73-yard catch, in the Eagles’ 41-16 win over Golden.

With his average receiving yards in the teens, Ellis may end up becoming a go-to receiver for Heritage as the team moves into the Class 5A West Metro League with cross-town rivals Arapahoe and defending state champion Mullen.

“[Ellis] will be one of our ‘money’ guys next fall,” Eagles football coach Mike Griebel said. “He was just voted team captain for 2010. He gives us great leadership, and he will fill multiple roles for our team next fall.”

During his junior hoops season for Heritage, Ellis shot 50 percent from the floor for 62 points in 19 games and was 50 percent at the foul line. He had the team’s second highest amount of steals with 28.

On the Eagles’ diamond, Ellis had a batting average of .342 with two doubles, five RBIs and a stolen base. He finished his junior year with a .405 on-base percentage and a .952 fielding percentage.

Eric Arthurs, Highlands Ranch

Eric Arthurs is a three-year letterman for Highlands Ranch lacrosse. As the Falcons’ goalie, he finished his sophomore year with the second most saves in the Douglas County League (259). He also earned an honorable mention All-League honor that year.

Last spring, the junior goalie had the most saves in the Douglas County League with 192, and for his second season in a row, he was among the Top 10 in the state for having the most saves. He was a junior last season and was honored as a first-team All-League selection, who received the most amount of votes for the selection among goaltenders.

While he continues to develop his passing and clearing decisions for his senior year, saving shots is presently Arthurs’ strongest feature, he said. In addition, he feels his hard work and determination helps him as an athlete overall.

“From my sophomore to junior year, I learned to control the defense better and team defense,” Arthurs said. “I think [the Falcons defense] will be a lot better. We have all the defense back and we’ll be able to gel better. We know which guys we can exploit. We know each others’ strengths and weaknesses and how to help each other for next year.”

On the Falcons’ gridiron, Arthurs started at offensive left guard and is one of only three players to letter their sophomore and junior seasons. His junior season, he earned a second-team All-Southern League selection. With only one offensive lineman graduating from the Falcons team last year, Arthurs is excited for the coming fall.

“Everyone on our line has varsity experience,” he said. “We’re not the biggest line, but we have a lot of talent on it. We should dominate the line pretty well.”

Grant McCabe, Cherry Creek

Helping Cherry Creek to a Class 5A Centennial League title last spring, Grant McCabe will return for his senior season on the diamond. With the most at-bats of any Bruins last spring, McCabe finished the year with a .598 batting average. He lead Creek in doubles with 11 and in triples with six.

Having scored 42 times, the incoming senior finished last season with a .649 on-base percentage and booked 23 RBIs. He also led the team in stolen bases with 19. For his efforts, McCabe earned himself a 2009 first-team All-Conference selection alongside four other Bruins. However, he was the only junior on the team to garnish the honor. He was one of five juniors on Cherry Creek’s varsity baseball roster last season.

Mike Carter, Mountain Vista

In his junior campaign, Mike Carter nearly broke every Mountain Vista High School wrestling record, including most wins. He won 37 matches last season, wrestling at 145 pounds and is looking to make the jump to 160 for his senior outing in 2010-2011.

In addition, Carter placed in every tournament he was in during the season. Among these, he had an impressive start to the season, going 10-0 with nine pinfalls during Vista’s Survivor Series. Last spring, he was a regional place-winner and qualified for the Class 5A state championships at the Pepsi Center.


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