Days to remember

15 most exciting moments of SouthMetro prep sports, 2009-10

Posted 6/16/10

As usual, preps sports in the area continues to excite local communities and spectators around the state. In the 2009-10 academic year, the number of …

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Days to remember

15 most exciting moments of SouthMetro prep sports, 2009-10


As usual, preps sports in the area continues to excite local communities and spectators around the state.

In the 2009-10 academic year, the number of state championship moments and highlights are too many to count and/or mention. However, below is a list of 15 of the most exciting moments of the past school year in no particular order, generated by the Colorado Community Newspapers sports staff, regarding the high school teams in its South Metro coverage areas.

Heritage football wins Class 4A championship

Eagles football coach Mike Griebel had been given a sports-drink shower by his players, and with those young men, one of them his son, he accepted a trophy. The emotion of the moment was tough for the Heritage High School coach to put into words.

“It’s a dream come true,” Griebel said after Heritage captured its first state football championship. “It’s been a magical season.”

Powered by the all-around excellence of their senior quarterback and a stifling second-half performance on defense, the Eagles were the Class 4A title holders after a 42-28 win over Longmont on Dec. 5 at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver.

“It’s the perfect end to a perfect season,” Heritage quarterback Mitch Griebel said.

Griebel ran for three touchdowns and passed for two more. He also punted, returned punts, had a sack of the opposing quarterback and made a key second-half interception. He finished with 142 passing yards and another 131 rushing.

“I knew this was my last game,” Mitch Griebel said. “I let it all hang out.”

Heritage finished the season 13-1, its only loss coming in the season opener against Columbine. The Mile High victory was the culmination of the prep football careers for all the Eagles’ seniors, a number of whom came up huge on Colorado’s biggest stage.

Jacob Snider wins fourthstate wrestling title

Qualifying state championship grapplers had their annual season finale Feb. 17-20 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The Ponderosa High School Mustangs won their eighth consecutive state title by less than 20 points over second-place Coronado. Three state gold medalists came out of the Mustangs’ lineup of four finalists between the 145-189 pound classes.

Definitely, a standout of the entire event was senior Jacob Snider, who became the 16th high school wrestler to win four state consecutive championships. He is also the school’s first to do so.

Snider’s road to the finals included a first-round pinfall in 2 minutes, 48 seconds over Donovan Busnardo of Lakewood, a pin at 1:44 against Rocky Mountain’s Derick Padilla and a clean 15-0 technical fall over Andrew Onorato in the semifinals. Coronado’s Jared Rieck, whom Snider faced in the finals, appeared to not have a clue how to approach the future-four-timer. Snider eventually took advantage in points to win his fourth gold medal with a 7-2 decision.

Castle View baseball wins Metro league title

Castle View High School baseball seemed to mature this season, being its fourth year since the school opened and only its second season of true varsity ball. It’s also the first season with a crop of fourth-year seniors, and their efforts culminated into the team’s first league championship.

The Cats earned their first league title from the defending Class 4A champions Cheyenne Mountain May 6 in Colorado Springs. The 9-4 win to close out View’s regular season schedule was the final entry in a nine-game win streak going into the post-season.

In the game against Cheyenne Mountain, a loss for the Cats would have left them with a co-championship with the Indians, but View coach Shawn Wyss said the team wanted to win the league’s top spot outright. After taking a few bruises in tournament action in Arizona to start the season, the Cats returned with a resolve to improve on a breakout season of sorts in 2009. Last year, View was only three outs away from being one of the final eight teams in the playoffs.

“We started believing in ourselves,” Wyss said. “That experience helped the kids understand that we can compete. [This year], in every game, someone new has been stepping up. We’ve been taking pride in what we do and the kids to a great job. … They’ve done a nice job building to this point.”

Connor Winter wins three distance titles at state

Arapahoe High School’s Connor Winter had a trifecta as a distance runner at the state meet this season.

The Warriors junior took the gold medal in the 800-meter run, the 1,600 and the 3,200 at this year’s Class 5A high school track and field state championship May 20-22 at Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood.

Winter won the gold medal in the boys 800-meter run with a time of 1 minute, 52.56 seconds. Winter also won the 1,600 championship title with 4:22.52 on the timer, and in the 3,200, he won the gold medal after posting a time of 9:17.17.

The performance at the state track meet came after Winter finished as the state’s runner-up in the 5A boys cross country state championship meet in 2009.

Ponderosa, Ranch go five games for volleyball title

With two tie breakers in front of them coming out of pool play, Ponderosa volleyball all of a sudden became the underdogs of the Class 5A state championship tournament.

And like the end of a inspirational sports movie produced by Walt Disney pictures, the Mustangs walked away the state title winners after a five-game epic battle with Continental League powerhouse Highlands Ranch in the championship finals. Ponderosa won the 5A state championship Nov. 14, 2009, at the Denver Coliseum in Denver after a 3-2 final over Ranch.

Mustangs coach Rob Graham said, “We had to win one tie breaker, then a second tie breaker, and then we had to go beat Grandview who’s been rolling over everybody. … We just couldn’t be stopped. Everything was working, even when we had doubts. We were so confident.”

In the finals, Ranch went up 1-0 with a score of 25-23. Ponderosa came back to handily take the second game 25-10. The Falcons dominated most of Game 3 to win 25-20, but the Mustangs forced a fifth game after a 25-18 score in the fourth. Game 5 appeared to go to Highlands Ranch until the Mustangs rallied to catch up and eventually win the final game 16-14. Falcons coach Lous Krauss said he and the team fully expected to see Ponderosa in the state finals.

“After we lost to Ponderosa during the regular season, we figured we see them again in the state finals,” Krauss said after the tournament was over. “We got there in a kind of weird, convoluted way, but it worked out. … The only surprise is that we got here with all the injuries we’ve had. I felt we were the two best teams all year, so I’m glad it worked out that way.”

Valor Christian wins 3A football championship

Valor Christian High School football, in its second year of varsity action, won the school’s first state championship gridiron title Dec. 5 at Legacy Stadium in Aurora, beating the Steamboat Springs Sailors 41-14 in the Class 3A finals.

Quarterback Brock Berglund threw three touchdown passes in the first quarter. Braxton Peats, a sophomore, caught the first touchdown air attack for 17 yards. Junior Sackett Keesen caught the second touchdown pass for 15 yards, and junior Blake Froistad hauled in the third one on a 43-yard launch. Freshman Cameron Gray also had a 64-yard touchdown run prior to halftime to help the No. 2-seeded Eagles accumulate a 35-14 lead. Valor booked 279 yards of total offense in the first half and only had to punt on one drive.

“Obviously, the D-line is one of our strengths,” Eagles coach Brent Vieselmeyer said of Valor’s defensive heat on Sailors QB Austin Hiner.

The Eagles’ secondary left Hinder no options downfield to keep the No. 4 seed out of the end zone in the second half. Hinder was picked off twice. Valor’s biggest opponent in the second half was its penalties, which racked up into double digits and 104 yards by the time the champions headed back to Highlands Ranch; however, Berglund eventually found receiver Blake Froistad for a 20-yard air strike for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the nail in the Sailors’ coffin.

Rock Canyon baseball in 3-way battle for state title

Rock Canyon High School baseball came as close as they ever have this season to the Class 4A state championship. Having won its district title and earned a spot in the 4A regional/state bracket, the Jaguars went two games into the tournament before losing to Mountain View.

As the No. 6 seed, entering the state tournament with a 16-5 record, the Jaguars defeated Greeley West on the backside of the double-elimination tournament. Canyon beat West 12-2 in six innings to advanced to one game away from a shot at the 4A title.

At All-City Field in Denver on May 29, Canyon faced No. 7 seed Broomfield, which had defeated No. 1 seed Mountain View the week previous and lost to the Jaguars earlier in the tournament 7-4. However, this time around, the Jags weren’t as lucky against the Eagles. Rock Canyon lost the rematch 7-1 to finish the season third among 4A teams. Mountain View went on to defeat Broomfield for the 4A championship that afternoon.

Heritage girls basketball makes Final Four

Heritage High School girls basketball made its way into the Sweet 16 round of the Class 5A state championship playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the Carol Callan Region this year. With the win over No. 2 Grand Junction Central in the Round of 16, Heritage advanced to the Great 8 March 6 at the Denver Coliseum in Denver to face the No. 1 seeded Chaparral Wolverines, whom the Eagles beat during Continental League play 58-50.

The Wolverines came out strong on the inside, with Heritage capitalizing on turnovers where they could. Lauren Huggins, Kim Lockridge on the inside and Sullivan Zeigler everywhere helped cut Chaparral’s first-quarter lead down to nothing with just over a minute left in the half. Heritage finished the half with a 27-26 lead.

“Our outside players like Lauren Huggins, Sullivan Zeigler, they were all attacking and left the middle open for me,” Lockridge said.

In the third quarter, Heritage didn’t miss a step. Both teams started to play more physical. Last few trips to the hoops, the Wolverines couldn’t hit the net, allowing the Eagles to finish the quarter with a 40-37 lead. Heritage’s inside game started to work well with strong passing around the outside.

Nothing was stopping Lockridge from sinking a shot under the basket, helping Eagles pull away to 13-point lead. Heritage eventually won 58-48 and advanced to the Final Four. The Eagles were later defeated by eventual state champions Denver East during the semifinals round in Boulder.

Ranch co-op swimming ends Regis’ reign at top

It was the ending of a 16-year dynasty with Highlands Ranch High School’s co-op swim and dive program taking the Class 5A state championship team title for the first time after Regis Jesuit’s reign since 1994. Ranch won the title May 22 at the EPIC Center in Fort Collins.

After defeating Cherry Creek and Regis in meets during the regular season and finishing second to Regis at state the season prior, the team set a goal from the first practice to win that state title.

“It has been a dream of mine and also the team’s for at least four years,” swimmer Kyle Noser said. “It took awhile to kick in that we won, and for everything to go right like it did all season is just unbelievable.”

Highlands Ranch finished with 373 points with Cherry Creek finishing with 341.5 and Regis Jesuit with 277 points. Some of the highlights from the day were the 200 medley relay with Ranch setting a new state record with the win in 1 minute, 33.50 seconds, and junior Ian Woon took the 50-yard freestyle title.

Cherry Creek boys take 5A lacrosse title

Cherry Creek, the Class 5A boys lacrosse state championship playoffs’ No. 2 seed, had a bye from the first round of action. In the second round, the Bruins defeated the No. 21 seeded Columbine Rebels 13-6. With the win, the Bruins advanced to the quarterfinals to face Mullen, the No. 7 seed, and beat the Mustangs 11-1.

With Arapahoe eliminated in the semifinals, Creek had a clear sky ahead to bring home its fourth state title after beating No. 6 seed Kent Denver 8-5 to earn a trip to the trophy game May 22 at Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver against Regis. There, the Bruins beat the Raiders for the championship 11-4.

In the title game, Kendall Williams scored four goals for Creek. Scot Hewitson scored three, and Brian Maierhofer snuck two into the cage. Henri Halle and Hogan Dannenberg each scored once. Between the pipes, Bruins goaltender Chris White finished with eight saves.

Elizabeth gymnastics finally wins 4A state title

The Elizabeth High School gymnastics team ended its 2009 season at the top, taking home the 4A state championship. The state meet on Nov. 7, held in Thornton, was the meet for the Cardinals, with each team member hitting their personal best scores to earn the championship. Not only did the team take the top spot, but so did junior Katie Cordova winning the all-around competition with a score of 36.75.

“They really pulled it together and fed off each other’s energy which was all positive,” Cardinals head coach Stacy Folmer said. “We didn’t watch the scores but knew our performances were where they needed to be. It was so gratifying to see these girls’ hard work pay off.”

The girls were honored for their accomplishment by the community and the entire high school student body as they arrived at the high school in a limo escorted by the Elizabeth Police Department and the Elizabeth Fire Department.

Chaparosa lacrosse takes Continental League crown

For the first time in the program’s six-year history, Chaparosa lacrosse had won its league bragging rights.

Chaparral High School’s unified girls lacrosse team with Ponderosa, which also includes one player from Elizabeth High School, won the Continental League championship for the first time since coach Dix Baines moved from the program at Douglas County to the Wolverines’ field.

Baines said the biggest difference over the past couple seasons has been its junior varsity players rising to the occasion. With Chaparosa’s JV team winning back-to-back league titles, the varsity has benefited with new talent working as a cohesive unit.

“Theres no question we graduated some good talent [in 2009],” Baines said. “I had a feeling last year that we’d be better this year. Everybody had a chance to step up. … We’ve done something we’ve never done before.”

With eight seniors on the varsity roster, the Wolverstangs finished its regular season undefeated in the league at 6-0.

“I’m happy with this team, cause they play so much together,” Baines said. “It’s so true in sports that you can have athletes who play hard, but until they play together and play smart, you’ll never get to be successful until you have all three ingredients going.”

Huskies’ soccer hosts first playoff in years

With a record of 9-4-2 and the No. 16 seed, Douglas County played host to its first Class 5A state championship playoff game at home in years. The Huskies’ season was strong as the Continental League was difficult to predict as it started to play out. County lost only two league games to Heritage and Mountain Vista, tied two times against Highlands Ranch and ThunderRidge and closed the regular season schedule with a five-game streak without a loss.

Their Round 1 playoff game against No. 17 seed Poudre and put up a 2-1 win over the Impalas. Mallory VanHout and Hailey Seeman each had a goal in that game, while goalkeeper Mariah Maykowski had five saves. Speed has been a weapon for County this season, and coach Ron Kingery said, at the start of the season, he felt the Huskies could compete in the playoffs this year.

“We are bigger, stronger and faster than we have been for quite some time,” Kingery said at the start of the 2010 season. “The girls have an improved work ethic and a fantastic attitude.”

County went on to face No. 1 seed Cherry Creek in Greenwood Village in the second round of action. The Huskies didn’t go quietly with a goal against Creek in the first period for a 2-1 score at halftime. The Bruins eventually ended County’s season on a 3-1 final. Andrea Conover had the lone goal for the Huskies. Keeper Maykowski booked six saves.

Englewood breaks lacrosse losing streak

The losing streak stretching back to 2006 came to an end April 5 as Englewood’s boys lacrosse team defeated Ridgeview Academy, 6-5.

“This win was huge for morale,” Pirates coach Mark Baker said. “It was a battle between two evenly-matched teams. We played hard and got a win that was big for our team.”

For the past few years, the Pirates’ lacrosse efforts to be competitive have been difficult as Englewood consistently struggled with small rosters made up primarily of young, inexperienced players. That was the case again in 2010, with about a third of the kids playing lacrosse for the first time. However, when they met another young, inexperienced team, they got their much-needed win.

“Although the kids are young and many are just learning the game, they have gotten better, because they have worked hard on their lacrosse techniques since we started practice back in March,” the coach said. “All that hard work paid off against Ridgeview. We played four good quarters of lacrosse against them (Ridgeview) and I am hoping this will build the confidence of our players and we can build on this as we look for another win.”

The April 5 win came on the Pirates’ home turf between two evenly-matched teams with the score tied 3-3 at halftime and 4-4 at the end of the third period. The Pirates got the winning goal in the final period when Josh Ruybal got an assist from Dallas Harmon and his shot beat the goalie for what proved to be the margin of victory.

Littleton boys soccer picks off Rangeview

While the Lions finished their 2009 boys soccer season at the middle of the Continental League with a 6-4-1 record, one exciting moment to remember was their come from behind win over a tough Rangeview Raiders (8-3-0) team Oct. 15 on the road in Aurora.

With help from Martin Nandith, James Rucker snuck a shot past Littleton goalkeeper Colin Shepard to help Rangeview to a 1-0 lead at halftime. Nick Bates answered back in the second half, unassisted, to tie the score at 1-1 for the Lions. Later, Charlie Mann found Ethan Sumlin available to score the winning goal for Littleton. Shepard finished with six saves against the Raiders.

Littleton finished its 2009 season with a 7-7-2 overall record.


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