Grandview graduate Brie Oakley added another accomplishment to a long list, running the second-fastest two-mile race for a high school girl Saturday at the Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle.
Oakley, a two-time Colorado high school champion in the 3,200 meters who is headed to the University of California this fall, finished in 9 minutes, 51.35 seconds which is the fastest ever run outdoors. The only girl to run faster was Mary Cain (9:38.68), who set the mark indoors.
Oakley won the Colorado 5A cross country title last fall and the Nike national cross country meet in December. Lauren Gregory, a Fort Collins High School grad who will attend the University of Arkansas, placed fourth Saturday in 10:05.26.
Related ArticlesJanuary 31, 2017
Grandview senior Brie Oakley wins 2016-17 Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year
January 23, 2017
Grandview’s Brie Oakley named 2016-17 Gatorade Colorado Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year
December 6, 2016
Grandview’s Brie Oakley adds national title to her list of remarkable accomplishments
October 29, 2016
Grandview’s Brie Oakley, nation’s top girls high school runner, runs away with Colorado 5A title
October 27, 2016
Lauren Gregory, Brie Oakley set for epic duel at Colorado state cross country championships [...]
To Susan Odenbaugh, retirement is a relative term.
The longtime Lewis-Palmer volleyball head honcho who led the Rangers to four Class 4A state titles in 15 seasons — including a dominant undefeated campaign en route to the championship last fall as the team finished fourth in the MaxPreps national rankings — stepped down from teaching and coaching this May to conclude a 34-year career.
“I’m officially retired, but I couldn’t just walk away completely,” Odenbaugh said. “I just love being around my students, so now I’m teaching part-time.”
Such is the academically-oriented sentiment that’s come to define Odenbaugh, the 2017 winner of the Dave Sanders Colorado Coach Award, presented annually by The Denver Post to a teacher-coach who has demonstrated longevity and success in teaching and coaching female athletics.
After all, it could be argued that the 58-year-old has plenty of volleyball seasons left in her — and more championships to go with. Lewis-Palmer, now under the direction of longtime varsity assistant Wade Baxter, is an early favorite to repeat in 2017 and the competitive Odenbaugh knows this — but she’s content with her decision to redirect her efforts.
“A lot of my students would come in and they’d seek extra help, and I was never available because of my commitment to coaching after school,” Odenbaugh explained. “When you look at the reality of things, most students aren’t going to make their careers playing volleyball, and I think now I’ll have a larger impact on helping students with their academic careers.”
And beyond the classroom, the “retired” Odenbaugh is also stepping into a new role with the Rangers athletic department where she’ll leverage her coaching background to oversee the school’s participation in the Positive Coaching Alliance and the Shift Why initiative.
“It’s important, with the way youth sports are progressing right now, that people don’t stray away from the true meaning of sports,” said Odenbaugh, who also won two state titles as a Rangers assistant coach. “Sports are a medium to teach character and character development, and we shouldn’t put our emphasis on winning at all costs. Winning should be a byproduct of the commitment to that development.”
It’s a mindset Sanders, a renowned softball coach, basketball coach and teacher who gave his life to save students in the 1999 Columbine shooting, certainly shared.
“Dave would be proud of anyone who was a teacher first and then took all those attributes that great teachers have and applied them to whatever sport they coached,” said Rick Bath, Sanders’ best friend and the 2002 award winner. “It’s about producing the same excellence in the classroom as you do on the court, and Odenbaugh does that.”
Odenbaugh’s players recognized and respected her didactic tactics, which proved consistently successful as the Ranges won 347 matches to just 89 losses during her tenure.
“She would always bring a quote to practice the day after a game, and that quote would apply to how we had played or something that had happened in the game,” said Elizabeth Reich, a captain on the 2016 title team who now plays at the University of Portland. “We would break down the game that way, and that not only made us better, it made us closer. It’s those personal touches that you don’t get from other coaches.”
Those touches translated to lessons on writing essays and dissections of literature, as Odenbaugh — who has served as the English Department Chair for 18 years and will continue to do so — brings her competitive mindset to her students, determined to make them more than college-ready.
“She wants every kid to succeed in their own way, so she pushed me a lot,” said Alexa Smith, a captain on the undefeated 2014 title team that finished ranked first in the nation. “She lets people know what she expects, and she holds people to that very high standard. Her players and her students have always respected that, and that’s why she excels in what she does.”
It’s been a long road for the Gilcrest native and 1977 Valley graduate, who, as a junior, was a member of the Vikings’ Class 2A state championship volleyball team in the first year the sport was sanctioned in Colorado — and who, as an adult, transformed prep volleyball, a feat that’s not lost on even her foremost Pikes Peak League rival.
“Every time we played each other, the gyms were packed, it was loud, it was crazy — it was everything you want high school volleyball to be,” Cheyenne Mountain coach David Barker said. “There’s no one else I’d rather face, though, because her teams come prepared and they’re always very competi [...]
Last year around this time, Tommy Gillman had just graduated from Columbine and Jake Eissler had just graduated from ThunderRidge, and both ballplayers spent the summer together on the Slammers Black club team in a final home-state hurrah before departing for college.
But this summer, the stakes are much higher for Gillman, a shortstop at Texas A&M, and Eissler, a right-hander at Texas Christian University. Both freshman’s teams advanced to the College World Series, which starts Saturday at TD Ameritrade Stadium in Omaha.
“It’s crazy how fast things have changed, because just last summer I was playing right behind Jake while he pitched,” Gillman said. “Now, we’ve both got work to do and dreams to chase in Omaha.”
Gillman has seen limited time this season, hitting .222 with two RBIs in nine plate appearances. But Aggies head coach Rob Childress clearly has confidence to call upon the freshman when needed, as Gillman saw action in the Super Regional clincher, a 12-6 win over Davidson, by pinch-running and getting an at-bat toward the end of the game.
Meanwhile, Eissler has emerged as a reliable reliever in his first season in Fort Worth. He’s 4-0 with a 5.02 ERA in 37.2 innings, and has also racked up 38 strikeouts for the Horned Frogs.
“Eissler is a guy who’s mentally sharp, and that’s why he’s had so much success as a freshman,” Gillman said. “He’s also great out of the pen because he can get out of jams and he’s got confidence in his stuff to get the big strikeout when you need one.”
And while it’s been a fast learning curve at the Division I level for both players, it’s one that has been made easier by the depth of the programs they find themselves in.
“Being around the older guys, I’ve learned how to go about things at the college level because it’s obviously very different from high school,” Gillman said. “And on our team, a lot of the younger guys have stepped up this year, especially as we got deeper into the season and we adjusted to the college game. It’s a big contributing factor to why we’re here now.”
The two former teammates could face other other on college baseball’s biggest stage. If both teams win Sunday, they’d meet Tuesday in a winner’s bracket game.
“That’d be an awesome moment for us as friends, and for Colorado baseball as a whole, if I happened to step into the box against him,” Gillman said. “But I’m not worried about that, or playing time. I’m concerned with doing whatever I need to do to be a good teammate, and helping Texas A&M win a national championship. I know Jake has the same mind-set.”
Kyle Newman, The Denver PostThunderRidge graduate Jake Eissler was 5-1 with a 1.28 ERA as a senior while leading the Grizzlies to a 15-8 record.
This weekend’s College World Series schedule
Saturday, June 17
Game 1 | Cal State Fullerton vs. Oregon State, 3 p.m. ET | ESPN
Game 2 | Florida State vs. LSU, 8 p.m. ET | ESPN
Sunday, June 18
Game 3 | Louisville vs. Texas A&M, 2 p.m. ET | ESPN
Game 4 | TCU vs. Florida, 7 p.m. ET | ESPN2 [...]
Eaglecrest’s Davis Bryant has been making noise in the Colorado prep golf scene for some time now. Bryant finished as the Class 5A state runner-up last fall while establishing himself as one of the top golfers in the Class of 2018 and earning a scholarship to CSU.
But it was on Wednesday that Bryant recorded his career’s most signature moment yet, posting a wire-to-wire victory at the Colorado Junior PGA Championship at Eisenhower Golf Club in Colorado Springs. Bryant shot one-under to secure the two-shot win and a berth in the National Junior PGA Championship from July 31-Aug. 3.
“I’d been looking forward to this tournament since it got put on the schedule, because I feel really comfortable with the course,” Bryant said. “It’s a difficult course, but I played well over 54 holes and I had all parts of my game where they needed to be over each of the three days.”
The win gave Bryant his first Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado major as the two-time Colorado Junior America’s Cup selection eyes continued improvement.
“My ball-striking has been really good lately,” Bryant said. “Also, my proximity to the hole on the green has been good the last month or so too, so I feel like I’m really close to cutting a few more strokes off my rounds if the putts start to fall in with more consistency.”
Bryant is the son of Green Valley Ranch Golf Club GM Matt Bryant, and growing up with a golf pro for a dad laid the base for his rapid development over the past several years.
He tied for 30th at the state tournament his freshman year before tying for 12th as a sophomore and then coming up one leaderboard spot short of the title last year.
“When I was younger, my dad was hard on me and wanted me to do everything perfectly, but as I got older he took a step back,” Bryant said. “It was good to be on my own in the game like that, because I still use his technique and his advice — especially on the mental side — but I had to figure out the details of golf for myself, too.”
Another golf pro’s kid, Holy Family’s Hailey Schalk, won the girls tournament at the Colorado Junior PGA Championship by an outlandish 11 strokes to also punch her ticket to the national tournament. Schalk is the daughter of Colorado National Golf Club GM Matt Schalk, and last month she won the Class 3A state title as a freshman.
Both Bryant and Schalk are favorites to win their respective individual state titles in 2017-18. [...]
It’s a mid-June early morning in the Arapahoe weight room, and the Warriors’ football team is putting in sweat equity on the power clean platforms while most of their peers sleep. Behind the players wearing sweat-soaked grey shirts that proclaim EARN IT, head coach Mike Campbell revs up his guys while music blares and reminders of the dedication necessary to succeed — All we ask is all you’ve got, one sign says — are everywhere.
It’s a prep football rite of passage that unfolds three to four times per week at just about every high school in the Denver metro area, when teams collectively rise with the sun to converge upon their weights, tracks and practice fields and put in the work that often defines a team’s fate come fall.
“The summer, to us, is about getting stronger and faster, but it’s really more about team bonding, toughness and leadership,” Mike Campbell said. “Especially because we don’t have the kind of numbers that a lot of the teams we play do, and we don’t have the Division I players that other schools do — so we have to rely on the culture we create here in the summertime to get us wins during the season.”
And while the average big-school contender like Arapahoe uses the summer to stay competitive, power programs such as Cherry Creek, Valor Christian and Pomona are all grinding, too, in order to remain in the championship conversation.
“If you’re really serious about competing at the top level of the sport in Colorado every year, you’ve got to put the work in,” Cherry Creek head coach Dave Logan said. “The days of just showing up two weeks before school starts are long over.”
Logan said he’s kept his four-days-a-week, eight-week program consistent over the past 25 years of his prep coaching career at Arvada West, Chatfield, Mullen and Cherry Creek — and that the seven state titles earned over that span are a direct result of his teams’ buy-in during the summer.
“My deal with my team is, if we get an 80 percent turnout rate in the summer, then we don’t go two-a-days,” Logan said. “And we’ve never gone two-a-days in all my time as a head coach, because my kids come out and commit to the workload, and our entire coaching staff comes out and commits to the summer, too. It’s where we’ve always laid the base.”
The Bruins’ program includes a football-specific lifting program, speed work such as interval sprints and agility drills, old-fashioned conditioning as well as the installation of the offense and defensive schemes throughout the summer.
Plus, beyond the intangibles that Campbell described, the summer gives schools competitive advantages that can be measured — like how Cherry Creek boasts 27 players who can squat 400 pounds or more — and those measurables, Logan said, translate to the field.
“That’s the overall team strength that’s essential if you’re going to compete at the highest level,” Logan said. “You might not have the biggest team in any given year, but you have to have good team strength that enables you to hang in there against bigger teams and more talented teams.”
Summer programs are also being tailored to a team’s specific style, as head coach Jaron Cohen has done at Ponderosa.
“We’re going to run no-huddle with a really fast tempo,” Cohen said, “and the way we train our players in the summer is modified to play that type of game in the fall because we’re going to be relentless on both sides of the ball.”
Related ArticlesJune 6, 2017
Q&A: Former Silver Creek QB Austin Apodaca talks college career, CFL opportunity and more
The Mustangs, who made the 4A quarterfinals last season, have also added an innovative competitive wrinkle to their workouts. Cohen appointed six senior captains before the summer started; those captains then drafted other varsity players enrolled in the program to form teams that compete for points and corresponding prizes such as T-shirts and pizza parties.
“Instead of coaches getting on kids, we’ve got kids getting on kids in a positive way,” Cohen said. “And if our players have accountability to each other, it gives them more incentive to get out of bed and get their work in, because a team gets points for everyone showing up.”
Each Friday is competition day at Ponderosa, with the ultimate prize being what Ponderosa strength coach Patrick Nolan calls “the championship bell,” which is a boxing bell with a chain attached to it. Friday’s team winners get to wear it and write on the back of it in Sharpie, and the team already has plans to take their coveted bell out to games this fall.
“We’re all about competing on Fridays and simulating that Friday-night-lights mindset,& [...]
After four former Colorado high school stars were selected over the first two days of the 2017 MLB Draft, ten more local prospects heard their names called during the rapid-fire final day of the event.
Peyton Remy, a 2015 Legend graduate and current righthander at Central Arizona College, got things going for Colorado on Day 3 when he was selected by the Cubs in the 17th round with the 525th overall pick.
Remy struck out 90 batters and made 14 starts for the Vaqueros this year and is the fourth Titans player to ever be drafted, per CHSAANow.com’s draft tracker.
Then in the 18th round, two former Rocky Mountain stars and current University of New Mexico players were picked.
First, the Angels took 2014 RMHS graduate Tyler Stevens off the board with the 535th pick. Stevens was 7-6 with a 4.81 ERA as a junior for New Mexico this spring and was the winning pitcher in the 2014 Class 5A state title game for Rocky Mountain, which has had former players selected in 11 of the last 12 drafts.
His classmate, Carl Stajduhar, was then taken by the Mets with the 547th overall pick. The junior infielder earned 1st-Team All-Mountain West honors this year after hitting .350 with 17 homers and 69 RBIs. He was also the Mountain West Player of the Year as a sophomore.
Recent Rock Canyon graduate Matt Givin became the first Colorado high school senior picked in this year’s draft when the Marlins came calling in the 20th round with the 599th overall pick.
The pitcher/shortstop earned All-Colorado accolades this spring while leading the Jaguars back to the 5A state tournament and is committed to play at Xavier, where his older brother, Chris Givin, is already a starter. Givin is the second Jaguars player to be picked but first straight out of high school.
The Cubs selected Niwot shortstop Skyler Messinger in the 22nd round with the 675th overall pick. Messinger hit .484 with 21 RBI and four homers for the Cougars this spring, and is committed to play at the University of Kansas. He is the seventh Niwot player to be drafted but first since 2008.
Heritage then got its moment in the spotlight, with two selections that underscored the talent within the fast-rising 5A program. All-Colorado catcher Casey Opitz (Arkansas commit) got picked in the 27th round in the 822nd slot by the Indians, and then a round later, righthander Jacob Hilton (New Mexico) went to the Rangers with the 854th pick.
Pine Creek graduate Reagan Biechler was taken next by the Rockies in the 31st round with the 926th pick. The senior lefty reliever for Wichita State had a 2.84 ERA in 31.2 innings this year and is the fourth Pine Creek player to be drafted.
In the 35th round, the Rockies selected their third local player of the draft with Broomfield righty James Notary at the 1,046th pick. Notary, a Texas Christian University commit, pitched the Eagles into the 5A state title game this spring.
And to conclude Colorado’s draft representation, the Rockies again went to the prep ranks to select Ralston Valley senior righthander Drake Davis in the 38th round at 1,136th overall. Davis, an Arizona State commit, was 4-3 with a 2.27 ERA this spring and is the sixth Mustangs player to be drafted.
Regis Jesuit graduate David Peterson was the first Colorado player drafted during Monday’s first round with the 20th overall pick, and three more locals went on Tuesday with the selections of Legacy alum Lucas Gilbreath, Columbine alum Blake Weiman and Sand Creek alum Josh Keaton.
Colorado Draft Recap
In all, 14 former Colorado high school players were selected in the draft, including six seniors. The signing deadline to go pro or return to/attend college is July 15.
Round 1 Pick 20 David Peterson LHP, New York Mets (Regis Jesuit 2014, Oregon)
Round 7 Pick 206, Lucas Gilbreath LHP, Colorado Rockies (Legacy 2014, Minnesota)
Round 8 Pick 238, Blake Weiman LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (Columbine 2014, Kansas)
Round 10 Pick 308, Josh Keaton RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Sand Creek 2012, Adams State)
Round 17 Pick 525, Peyton Remy RHP, Chicago Cubs (Legend 2015, Central Arizona College)
Round 18 Pick 535, Tyler Stevens RHP, Los Angeles Angels (Rocky Mountain 2014, New Mexico)
Round 18 Pick 547, Carl Stajduhar 3B, New York Mets (Rocky Mountain 2014, New Mexico)
Round 31 Pick 926, Reagan Biechler LHP, Colorado Rockies (Pine Creek 2013, Wichita State)
Class of 2017
Round 20 Pick 599, Matt Givin RHP, Miami Marlins (Rock Canyon, Xavier)
Round 22 Pick 675, Skyler Messinger SS, Chicago Cubs (Niwot, Kansas)
Round 27 Pick 823, Casey Opitz C, Cleveland Indians (Heritage, Arkansas)
Round 28 Pick 854, Jacob Hilton RHP, Texas Rangers (Heritage, New Mexico)
Round 35 Pick 1,046, James Notary RHP, Colorado Rockies (Broomfield, TCU)
Round 38 Pick 1,136, Drake Davis RHP, Colorado Rockies (Ralston Valley, Arizona State) [...]
Presenting the 2017 All-Colorado baseball team, as selected by The Denver Post staff:
2017 All-Colorado Baseball team
OF Toby Scoles, Sr., Pine Creek
(.541/24 RBI/8 2B) The Colorado School of Mines commit was a jack-of-all-trades for an Eagles team laden with college talent, as Scoles’ outfield range and pitching arm (6-1 with a 1.02 ERA) made him a dynamic force.
OF Tanner O’Tremba, Jr., Cherry Creek
(.515/31 RBI/10 HR) The man-child provided the pop in the heart of the Cherry Creek lineup as the Bruins finished third at the state tournament and O’Tremba continues to grow into the star fans have been hyping him to be since his freshman year.
OF JD Wadleigh, Jr., Green Mountain
(.508/24 RBI/6 HR) As one of the central cogs in the Rams’ lineup, Wadleigh did more than hit, stealing nine bases and providing a steady presence in center field as the Rams turned in a 15-4 campaign and battled through the competitive 4A Jeffco League.
INF Liam Eddy, Sr., Brighton
(.657/43 RBI/11 HR) The Wichita State pledge’s bat and arm helped the Bulldogs to one of the best seasons in recent memory. Eddy led Colorado in homers and was 6-1 with a 2.54 ERA on the mound to pace Brighton into the district championship game.
INF John Sorensen, Sr., Rocky Mountain
(.458/38 RBI/6 HR) Sorensen threw a complete game to earn the win in the Class 5A state championship, and the Kansas State commit made a habit of flashing leather in the infield, too, in leading the Lobos back to the top.
Andy Cross, The Denver PostDenver North High School baseball player Judah Wilbur June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostDenver North High School baseball player Judah Wilbur June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostRegis Jesuit baseball player Caleb Sloan June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostRegis Jesuit baseball player Caleb Sloan June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostRegis Jesuit baseball player Caleb Sloan June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostRegis Jesuit baseball player Caleb Sloan June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostCherry Creek Bruins baseball player Tanner O'Tremba June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostCherry Creek Bruins baseball player Tanner O'Tremba June 07, 2017 in Denver. Tanner O'TrembaAndy Cross, The Denver PostCherry Creek Bruins baseball player Tanner O'Tremba June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostCherry Creek Bruins baseball player Tanner O'Tremba June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostPine Creek High School baseball player Toby Scoles June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostPine Creek High School baseball player Toby Scoles June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostPine Creek High School baseball player Toby Scoles June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostRock Canyon High School baseball player Matt Given June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostRock Canyon High School baseball player Matt Given June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostRock Canyon High School baseball player Matt Given June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostGreen Mountain High School baseball player JD Wadleigh June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostGreen Mountain High School baseball player JD Wadleigh June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostGreen Mountain High School baseball player JD Wadleigh June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostValor Christian High School baseball player Luke Ziegler June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostValor Christian High School baseball player Luke Ziegler June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostBroomfield High School baseball player James Notary June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostBroomfield High School baseball player James Notary June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostBroomfield High School baseball player James Notary June 07, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostThomas Jefferson High School baseball coach Graham Baughn June 08, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostThomas Jefferson High School baseball coach Graham Baughn June 08, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostThomas Jefferson High School baseball coach Graham Baughn June 08, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostThomas Jefferson High School baseball coach Graham Baughn June 08, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostRocky Mountain High School baseball player Jadon Uhrich June 08, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostRocky Mountain High School baseball player Jadon Uhrich June 08, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostRocky Mountain High School baseball player Jadon Uhrich June 08, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostLegend High School baseball player Jordan Stubbings June 08, 2017 in Denver.Andy Cross, The Denver PostLegend High School baseball player Jordan Stubbings June 08, 2017 in Denver. [...]
After Regis Jesuit graduate David Peterson was selected with the 20th overall pick in Monday’s first round of the MLB Draft, three more pitchers from Colorado heard their names called Tuesday.
Legacy alum Lucas Gilbreath, Columbine alum Blake Weiman and Sand Creek alum Josh Keaton were all picked. The Rockies took Gilbreath in the seventh round with the 206th selection, the Pirates took Weiman in the eighth round with the 238th selection and the Orioles took Keaton in the tenth round with the 308th selection.
Gilbreath, a southpaw who was previously drafted in the 36th round by the Rockies out of high school in 2014, posted a 5-2 record with a 2.66 ERA for the University of Minnesota this year en route to earning 1st-Team All-Big Ten honors.
Weiman, also a lefty and 2014 graduate, was 5-1 with a 2.80 ERA for the University of Kansas this past season, striking out 55 batters to just five walks.
The right-hander Keaton finished his senior year at Adams State with 84 strikeouts, second-best in the RMAC. The 2012 Sand Creek graduate is the first Scorpions player to ever be drafted, per CHSAANow.com’s draft database.
Gilbreath is the eighth Legacy player drafted and Weiman is the 16th Columbine player drafted.
The draft resumes Wednesday at 10 a.m. with rounds 11-40. Several more Colorado players have a good chance to be picked, including Regis Jesuit pitcher Caleb Sloan (Texas Christian University commit), Heritage catcher Casey Opitz (Arkansas) and Rock Canyon pitcher/shortstop Matt Givin (Xavier). [...]
Denver Post preps editor Kyle Newman caught up with Regis Jesuit star Fran Belibi to discuss her experience of winning the gold medal with the under-16 USA Basketball national team at the FIBA Women’s Americas Championship in Argentina this past weekend.
Belibi, who rose to national prominence after becoming the first girl to dunk in a Colorado high school game this past winter, averaged 4.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in the tournament. The U.S. defeated Canada, 91-46, in Sunday’s title game.
Q: What was your first experience with USA Basketball like?
A: There were a lot of great people on my team, and just a lot of great players in the tournament overall. To be part of this epic team with so many players striving for one goal — and so many star players being so unselfish so we could win gold — was an awesome opportunity.
Q: Did this team open your eyes to where you stand in terms of national talent?
A: Definitely — these are some of the top high school players in the country, and to be on the court with them proved I have a lot of work to do to get to where I ultimately want to be at. Playing with these girls makes me want to push myself even harder.
Q: What are some aspects of your game that this tournament proved you need to work on?
A: My shooting and my ballhandling definitely need more improvement, and I think I need to be a more versatile player. Those are all things I can definitely work on, and playing against elite competition like I did in Argentina will only keep making me better.
Q: What are your basketball plans for the rest of the summer?
A: The plan is to just keep balling out. I’m going to play in a bunch of tournaments with the Mile High Magic this summer, and I’m just going to try and keep getting better and making sure I stay focused on putting team goals first.
Q: And are you feeling good about Regis Jesuit’s chances at making a push for the Class 5A title next season after a Final Four run last season?
A: Absolutely. We’re already trying to get that team chemistry going on and off the court, so that when the winter comes, we’ll be prepared to win state. [...]
From 1964 through 1980, liquor store owner Bauldie Moschetti ran one of the nation’s premier collegiate summer baseball programs, the Boulder Collegians. The team won four National Baseball Congress championships and attracted top-tier college players from all over the country, including future pros such as Joe Carter, Joe Madden and Tony Gwynn.
That time frame was the heyday of the state’s college summer baseball scene, with other long-defunct storied teams such as the Englewood Redbirds, Colorado Rangers and Pueblo Steelers making Colorado a breeding ground for future pro prospects for three months of the year.
Jump ahead to 2017, and while Colorado doesn’t boast nationally renowned college summer baseball as it once did — the Cape Cod League and the Alaska League lay primary claim to that — the foundation is in place for the state to return to that level.
“There’s a history of quality summer baseball here, and I think you’re starting to see that come back,” said Al Blesar, a longtime coach and professional scout who is the co-director of player personnel for the Mile High Collegiate Baseball League. “More local guys and nonlocal guys are seeing the benefits of playing in leagues here before they head back to school in the fall.”
Colorado has three summer leagues: the Rocky Mountain Baseball League (founded in 1999), the Mile High Collegiate Baseball League (2013) and the Mountain West Summer College Baseball League (2015). All three are nonprofits, with all player fees going toward operating costs. The RMBL and MHCBL have 10 teams apiece and the MWSCBL eight, and both the RMBL (two bids) and the MHCBL (one bid) are members of the NBC.
At their core, the leagues provide players with a packed summer schedule — usually 40 to 60 games — that allows players ranging from Division I to junior college to focus on development.
“Like I always tell my players, you’re going to come in and get your at-bats and get your innings on the mound,” said Steve Oram, vice president of the RMBL and a longtime summer coach. “I think a lot of the younger guys in the league, like players who just graduated from high school or redshirted in college, get an opportunity to get better over the summer so that they can make their college team or find their way on the field.”
Players such as Evan Walter are proof of the doors Colorado summer baseball can open.
Walter started at first base the past two seasons for the Colorado Cyclones, a team that earned NBC berths with consecutive MHCBL titles. The 2013 Thomas Jefferson High School graduate attends the University of Science and Arts Oklahoma, which has a top-tier NAIA program. He found a home there, thanks to the MHCBL.
“The main thing the league’s helped me with is that it’s given me opportunities,” Walter said. “Two years ago I got picked up by a junior college after the summer because I wasn’t playing at my previous school, and then last summer, I earned the opportunity to come aboard at my current four-year school.”
And while the RMBL and the MHCBL are dominated by Coloradans, the Western Slope-based MWSCBL is about 80 percent non-Coloradans — including players from nearly all 50 states as well as Mexico, Canada and Australia. The league capitalizes on Colorado’s mild summers, altitude-assisted hitting and growing status as a world-class destination.
“One of the biggest draws of our league is where it’s at,” said MWSCBL commissioner Joe LeFebre, whose league has teams in Eagle Valley, Carbondale and Steamboat Springs, among other sites. “I don’t think there’s a college summer baseball team at 9,000 feet elevation like the Summit Extreme Black Diamonds are, and I don’t think there ever has been.”
All three Colorado summer leagues have expanded since their debut, and now the RMBL is looking to widen its reach beyond the state’s borders.
“With so many summer leagues sprouting up all over the country and increasing numbers of guys who are willing to travel to play summer ball, now we’re trying to market ourselves as more of a regional league,” Oram said. “We’ve got a team in Laramie right now and we’ve got one up in Sterling, and we’re working with guys up in Casper and Cheyenne, so next year we hope to expand the league up there as well.”
But despite the proliferation of summer collegiate baseball teams in Colorado over the past two decades, the state — specifically the Denver area, where RMBL and MHCBL teams are mostly located — faces a distance disadvantage compared with other leagues within the U.S. such as the Jayhawk League (Kansas) and the Northwoods League (the Midwest) that draw top college fr [...]
Denver Post preps editor Kyle Newman caught up with former Silver Creek quarterback Austin Apocada to discuss his college career, his CFL opportunity with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and more.
Q: Heading into the Blue Bombers’ first preseason game this Saturday against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, what does this opportunity mean to you?
A: It’s everything, because not a lot of people get the chance to play professional football, and that’s my job right now. I’m going to put everything I have into this because the game doesn’t last forever, and that’s one thing I’ve learned just in my short time up here. This game can end for you at anytime and any moment through cuts, or injuries, or whatever that may be. So I’m just focused on taking things one minute at a time and enjoying every moment I come across.
Q: What did you learn from your college journey that started at Washington State, had a pit stop at Mesa Community College (Ariz.) and then finished at the University of New Mexico?
A: It was an interesting college career for me, and I’d be lying to you if I said that’s what I thought it would look like. But the ups and downs of that career have prepared me for where I’m at now. Going to Washington State and playing in a Power 5 conference was awesome, but then leaving there and not being certain of where I was going to be was a bit of adversity.
I went to the JuCo for only one semester just so I could try to get back to the Division I ranks, and then I went to New Mexico where I wasn’t the perfect fit for their triple-option scheme. But the whole journey itself has taught me a lot, because now I don’t worry about the outcome so much, but more about the process.
Q: How hard was it to make those offensive changes throughout college?
A: At Washington State, we threw it 60, 70 times a game, and then I went to New Mexico and we threw it maybe 10 times a game. I obviously would have liked to throw it way more and play in an offense that was more fitting to my style, but what that did was make me understand the game better as a whole.
I learned different coverages and different personnel from being in so many different offenses under so many different coaches, and I learned that that I could run the ball better than expected because it was something I had never really done before. And right now in Winnipeg, the offense is a combination of everything I’ve played — there’s some air-raid concepts and some zone-read concepts that I learned while running the triple-option.
Q: How did playing for your dad, Mike Apodaca — who’s still the head football and baseball coach at Silver Creek — shape you as a quarterback?
A: That shaped me a lot, because I always had a high standard for myself, and my dad always had a high standard for me. Not so much performance wise, but in the sense of how to act on the field and how to act off the field. As the coach’s son, you’re bound to be in the spotlight a little bit more, so I was always trying to work my hardest to set the example for other guys and to gain people’s respect to show them I was more than just the coach’s son, and that I deserved to be on the field. That sort of mentality has followed me throughout my career, including up here to Canada. [...]
Paul Aiken / Daily CameraBroomfield senior Linnie Malkin, posing here for the 2016 BoCoPreps.com softball player of the year honor, was named the Gatorade Softball Player of the Year.
Broomfield senior Linnie Malkin was named the 2016-17 Gatorade Colorado Softball Player of the Year on Monday morning, capping a standout prep career that has the third baseman headed to play at the University of Arkansas.
Malkin hit .603 with 35 RBI, 11 doubles and 11 homers this past fall, leading the Eagles to the Front Range League championship and Class 5A state runner-up accolades. Broomfield fell 1-0 to Cherokee Trail in extra innings of the title game.
Also a 2016 Denver Post 1st Team All-State selection and a four-time All-Front Range League honoree, Malkin is the first Eagles softball player to receive the award. [...]
Pablo Severtson grew up around baseball because his father, Tom Severtson, was a long-time coach, and former pro scout. His dad won state and national club championships over the course of his decades-long career.
Not much has changed since Pablo’s youth, as the 32-year-old Heritage baseball assistant coach still breathes hardball. Pablo and Tom were both on the Eagles’ coaching staff this season as Heritage continued to assert itself as a Class 5A contender.
Yet it’s on a smaller diamond — and with a different gender — that the 32-year-old Pablo has established himself as one of the best coaches in the state.
Pablo is the head coach of one of Colorado’s top club softball teams, Colorado Styxx Gold 18U, in addition to his duties as the head softball coach at Heritage. His transition from a small white ball to a bigger yellow sphere is one the 2003 Thomas Jefferson graduate made easily, like his dad did before him.
“My dad played on the national fastpitch circuit after playing college baseball at UNC and was eventually inducted into the Colorado Softball Hall of Fame, so he knew the game and was able to help me with that transition,” Pablo Severtson said. “When I started coaching softball, I coached it just like I did with baseball, but there are those little details in the differences between the games that he really turned me on to.”
With the focus on those details — and an ethos of, “If your best player is your hardest worker, you’ve got a chance to be a great team” — Pablo guided the Styxx to a 98-11 record last season and a 13th-place finish at Triple Crown Nationals in New York.
His club is looking equally potent this year, his third as its coach, with the majority of the roster having returned.
“We’re trying to duplicate that kind of year, so we’ll see what we’ve got,” Pablo said. “It’s going to take a lot of clutch play from our girls against elite competition at nationals in Austin in July, but I know they’re ready for it.”
The Styxx’s staff of Emily Bell (Cherokee Trail graduate, Simpson College commit), Taylor Puga (Pueblo West senior) and Rio Sanchez (Erie graduate, Central Arkansas) is rivaled by few in the state.
And their lineup is stacked, too, with clutch players such as outfielder Chloe Knapp (who had the game-winning home run in extra innings of the Class 5A title game for Cherokee Trail last fall) and shortstop Lauren Foster (a key component in Valor Christian’s Class 4A championship three-peat) complimenting Eaglecrest senior first baseman Kailey Wilson, who is perhaps the best power hitter in the state.
The Styxx will continue to compete alongside, and often against, an array of other tough Colorado 18U teams throughout tournaments leading into Triple Crown Nationals.
Triple Crown Stars Gold — which finished ninth at nationals last year — headlines that list, with other teams such as Colorado Stars Burns Gold and Next Level Gold also capable of making noise in prime-time tournaments.
As for Pablo, he remains focused on getting his players college-ready — and, of course, continuing to progress toward his own coaching dream.
“Between Heritage baseball and softball and everything I do with the Styxx, I pretty much live at the diamond,” Pablo said. “Everyone knows my goal is to be a head baseball coach in high school, and then the ultimate goal is to coach in college somewhere. If my players keep buying into me, I’ll get there sooner than later.” [...]