As the four remaining teams in the Class 3A state baseball tournament take to the field this weekend in Greeley to put the exclamation point on a jam-packed – and often wet and sloppy – spring, it brings to a close the 2017-18 athletic calendar.
During the previous 10 months, dozens of championships were earned – some for the first time, some for the 35th time (see Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village)
girls tennis). Records fell, hearts were broken, and through it all individuals and teams persevered to fight their way to the top of the mountain.
With that in mind, here is a look (in no particular order) at 10 moments that stood out among the 2017-18 sports year:• A parade of first-time state champions
It isn't uncommon for the prep sports arena to see a first-time champion crowned, but the 2017-18 school year took that to another level. From football to basketball to baseball and everything in between, a total of 27 schools won their first state titles in that respective sport since last fall. Nine new champions were crowned in the fall across seven sports, and five more were earned in the winter.
This spring, 13 programs captured a title for the first time in seven sports. That includes Windsor
winning its first championship in three sports (more on the Wizards later). The cherry on the top of those accomplishments: Two schools – Legend (Parker)
(softball) and Liberty Common (Fort Collins)
(boys soccer) – earned the first state championship overall in the school's history.
• Five all-classification records were broken during track and field
In 2014, four all-classification records were set during the spring season, including three at the state championships. This spring, the state's best found a way to one-up that mark. Four athletes re-wrote the state record books five times, including one event that saw the Colorado record broken on three occasions.
junior Arria Minor
set state marks in the 200- and the 400-meter sprints. Minor took the 200 mark in 23.18 seconds earlier this month, and set the 400 time at the state meet in 51.92 seconds – which was also good for the nation's fastest time in the event.
Rock Canyon (Highlands Ranch)
senior Emily Sloan
broke the 300 hurdles record May 12 at the Continental League Championships with a time of 40.77 seconds. At the state meet, Anna Hall
of Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch)
bested that in preliminaries with a time of 40.76; later that same day, Sloan took the record back in 40.60. Sloan finished her career as a four-time champion in the 100 hurdles and a two-timer in the 300 hurdles.
• Regis Jesuit boys claim four state championships
Other records included Cherokee Trail (Aurora)
senior Sydnee Larkin
in the triple jump with a leap of 41-09 at the Mercury Invitational in March; and Valor Christian's Cole Sprout
set the boys 3,200 time in 9 minutes, 1.53 seconds at the Jeffco League Championships.
Windsor wasn't the only school making waves during the school year. The Regis Jesuit (Aurora)
boys captured four state championships, winning the 5A boys golf, lacrosse and swimming titles, and taking the program's fifth hockey title as well.
The Raiders won the boys golf title in the fall by seven strokes over Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village). Regis Jesuit took the hockey crown in March with a 2-0 victory over Valor Christian. This spring the Raiders added two more titles to its trophy case. Elijah Warren
won the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke championship at state swimming, and the Raiders' depth helped earn two relay titles on the way to a 4.5-point margin over Fossil Ridge (Fort Collins). Regis Jesuit then defeated Kent Denver (Cherry Hills Village) 10-4 in the 5A lacrosse title game to win its second championship in three years.• Bayfield brings three state championships back to the Western Slope
The senior class at Bayfield
helped make the small southwestern school a champion on three occasions this school year.
It started when the Wolverines brought home the 2A state football championship for the second time in three years with a 34-7 victory over La Junta last fall. That marked the program's third state title in the sport overall.
But Bayfield wasn't done. As the No. 7 seed in the boys 3A state basketball tournament, Bayfield stormed through the field on its way to its first championship in the sport. The Wolverines closed it out with a 68-57 victory over Lutheran (Parker) on March 10 at the University of Denver.
• Fairview boys, Niwot girls end remarkable tennis title runs
Last but not least, the boys track and field team – backed by 110- and 300-hurdle titles from Carl Heide
– edged The Classical Academy (Colorado Springs) by 6.5 points to win the 3A state championship earlier this month, another first for the school.
For nearly a decade, the Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado Springs)
girls tennis team had ruled the roost in 4A. The Indians had won nine consecutive state championships among their 22 overall titles in the sport.
But earlier this month, Niwot brought that streak to a halt. The Cougars captured five of the seven positions overall at Pueblo City Park to hold off the Indians by 14 points. Niwot
freshman Lucy Lu
claimed the No. 1 singles championship with a 7-6 (10-8), 6-2 victory over two-time defending champion Josie Schaffer of Kent Denver.
The Fairview (Boulder)
boys took down the most prolific team in state history in the fall. The Knights ended Cherry Creek's six-year run in 5A with their first championship; Cherry Creek had won 15 of the previous 16 titles and 42 overall. Fairview made the finals in six of the seven positions and won titles at No. 2 and No. 3 singles.• Jacob Greenwood becomes Colorado's 21st wrestler to win four state titles
While it seems that the state's run of four-time state champions may not end any time soon, the career that Jacob Greenwood of Poudre (Fort Collins)
capped last February is deserving of a place in the spotlight.
Greenwood became the 21st individual in state history to win four consecutive state titles. While this was the fifth year in a row that a wrestler accomplished that feat, Greenwood became the first 5A wrestler to do it since Ponderosa's Jake Snider from 2007-10. The senior defeated Grand Junction's Dylan Martinez 4-2 in overtime at 145 pounds at Pepsi Center to join the elite group.
Another interesting takeaway from state heading into the 2018-19 season: For the first time, four individuals have an opportunity to become four-time state champions next February. Theorius Robison of Pomona (Arvada)
and Ponderosa (Parker)
standout Cohl Schultz (5A) and Greeley Central's
Andrew Alirez and Pueblo County's
Brendon Garcia (4A) each won their third state championship this past February.• Fossil Ridge girls swimming breaks national record on way to 5A state title
The Fossil Ridge (Fort Collins)
girls swimming program didn't just win a second-consecutive 5A state championship last February. The SaberCats put together a dominant showing at EPIC in Fort Collins, winning all three relay events and seven of the eight individual events. Fossil Ridge's 424 points set a state record for team points.
That wasn't even the biggest highlight for Fossil Ridge, which won the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:38.13. That mark broke the national record of 1:38.77, and the team also added a state record in the 200 free relay in 1:34.15. Kylee Alons
, Zoe Bartel
and Coleen Gillilan
each won two individual titles, and were joined by Bayley Stewart
on the record-setting medley relay team.
• Grandview football denies Valor Christian's run of title-game appearances
• Windsor was nearly unstoppable in 2018
athletic programs have been dominant over the past five months, but this
spring was definitely one to remember for the Wizards. It started back
in the winter, when Windsor won three individual state titles at the 4A
state wrestling meet on its way to the program's first team championship
since 2012. Windsor also won the Tri-Valley League title in boys
basketball and shared the league crown in girls hoops.
the past few weeks, though, the Wizards have been in a league of their
own. Windsor captured state championships in girls soccer, boys swimming
and girls golf – each a first for the school – in a span of just five
days. Windsor's baseball team made a run of its own, reaching the final
four in 4A before bowing out Tuesday.
In the previous eight seasons, Valor Christian's football team had made the state championship game – once in 3A, twice in 4A and five times in 5A. The Eagles had won titles in seven of those appearances, and entered the 2017 postseason as the No. 1 seed.
But Grandview (Aurora)
found a way to bring that incredible streak to a halt in the 5A quarterfinals last November. The eighth-seeded Wolves limited the Eagles to six points in the second half on their way to a 28-16 victory. Junior Jordan Billingsley rushed for 202 yards and a touchdown as Grandview advanced to the 5A semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Pomona.
The Panthers finally broke through for their second state title with a 56-49 victory over Eaglecrest (Aurora). Pomona had fallen to Valor Christian in the previous two titles games.• Pomona earns third gymnastics title in a row, each with a different all-around champion
For the third consecutive season, Pomona's gymnastics team came away from the state meet with the 5A state championship. What makes the situation unique for the Panthers is that they also had the all-around champion for the third year in a row, and it was a different gymnast who won the title each year. Last fall it was Kaylie Berens' turn to reach the top with an all-around score of 38.800.