With another athletic season officially concluded, it should serve as no surprise that Colorado's girls athletes continued to represent well on a national level. Several Division I signees and epic performances once again were created on the state's athletic fields and in the gymnasiums, so now it's time to take a look back.
Sure, it seems unfair to isolate a mere 10 achievements, but few readers would get through a document featuring the hundreds of remarkable performances that encompassed the school year. So, here is a subjective look at 10 key accomplishments, in no particular order, that won't soon be forgotten.
• ThunderRidge basketball upsets heavily favored rival
Let's be honest: it looked like another runner-up finish for ThunderRidge (Highlands Ranch)
. The Grizzlies were taking on archrival Highlands Ranch, which entered the Class 5A championship game 26-1, without an instate loss and were ranked as high as No. 7 in the nation during the season. And Highlands Ranch had defeated the Grizzlies by nine in their own gym weeks earlier. But ThunderRidge turned the tables and clamped down on the high-powered Falcons for surprisingly convincing 47-32. The Grizzlies, under the guidance of longtime assistant Matt Asik in his first season as head coach, avenged a narrow loss to Broomfield in the title game a year earlier. Seniors Jaz'myne Snipes
and Taylor Rusk
had tremendous seasons for the Grizzlies (25-3). Not be lost in the drama is that ThunderRidge edged previously unbeaten Grandview (Aurora) 69-67 in the semifinals.
• Air Academy's Katie Rainsberger reigns supremeAir Academy (US Air Force Academy)
distance runner Katie Rainsberger
had an amazing encore to her spectacular junior season. The Oregon-bound athlete repeated as 4A cross country champion in the fall, giving her two firsts and two runner-up finishes – both behind Niwot's Elise Cranny, now at Stanford. Rainsberger also repeated championships at the state track meet last month in the 800, 1,600, 3,200 meters and as part of the Kadets 3,200 relay. The icing on the cake: she upstaged Cranny's state-meet record in the 800 by running in in 4 minutes, 45.27 seconds. Rainsberger also holds the overall record in the event, having run it in 4:44.31 earlier this spring.
• Fairview tennis ends Creek's nearly two-decade reign
For 19 seasons, the girls state tennis trophy went to a familiar place: Cherry Creek. Many reasonably figured it would go home with the Bruins once again. Fairview (Boulder)
had other ideas, and Knights freshman Sophie Pearson
sealed the deal by defeating Cherry Creek's Sayuri Garud for the No. 3 singles title. Fairview also received first-place finishes from fellow freshman Seraphin Castelino
at No. 1 singles and the No. 4 doubles duo of Clare Lupo
and Denali Pinto
to edge the Bruins 69-66. • Mountain Range softball nabs first title in first trip to state
It makes sense that Mountain Range (Westminster)
had never won a softball state title. The Mustangs, after all, had never even been to the state tournament. Unearthed in 2009, the Mustangs finally broke into the bracket this season as a No. 4 seed and made the most of it. They swept four games at Aurora Sports Park, capping the run with a convincing 12-2 triumph against Pomona (Arvada) in the championship game. Mountain Range trailed 2-0 in the fifth of that contest before erupting late. Now, behind ace Hunter Huser
, the slugging Riley Craig
and longtime coach Dane Craig, the Mustangs (23-2) are proudly displaying hardware in the school's trophy case. Meanwhile, Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch)
repeated in 4A and Strasburg
capped a perfect season to win its third title in four years.
• Grandview and Vail Mountain repeat on the soccer pitch
With a 2-1 win against Mountain Vista (Highlands Ranch) at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Grandview (Aurora)
became the first 5A team to record successive state titles since Heritage in 1991 and '92. Melanie Jenkins
and Avianne Burris
scored for the Wolves. The 2A bracket, meanwhile, has only witnessed one champion ever. That's because Vail Mountain
has triumphed in each of the classification's first two seasons. The Gore Rangers blanked Dawson School (Lafayette) 7-0, avenging a 3-2 loss to the Mustangs in the regular season. Meanwhile, Kent Denver (Englewood)
matched the achievement of the Sun Devils boys team in the fall by winning 3A. • Yuma's Tara Traphagan wins SteinmarkYuma
senior Tara Traphagan
earned the prestigious Freddie Steinmark Award by virtue of a 4.223 grade-point average, a school-record 34 on her ACT and for helping the Indians finally get over the hump. After three runner-up finishes in 2A basketball, Traphagan and the Indians finally won it all this season, defeating Paonia 55-46. It was a nice double-up, as she also was a key member of the Indians state championship volleyball team in the fall, a squad that overthrew two-time champ Resurrection Christian (Loveland). She'll play volleyball at Wyoming next season. Traphagan also finished second in the shot put at state. She'll be honored for the Steinmark Award on June 10 during the All-State Games at Adams State College in Alamosa.
• Eaton only volleyball team to cash in on threepeat opportunity
All five volleyball classifications featured a two-time defending champion this season. Only Eaton
made it three straight. The Reds swept Patriot League-rival Valley (Gilcrest) in the title match to secure yet another 3A crown, this one with perhaps their most dominant team. Gwen Forster's group lost only four sets all season and finished 28-0. They'll carry a 38-match winning streak into next season. Middle blocker Tarynn Sieg
and outside hitter Caiden Rexius
were among the standouts on a squad that finished the season ranked No. 11 in MaxPreps XCellent 25.
• Cheyenne Mountain setter Holly Huffman named All-American
After a two-year hiatus, the Class 4A volleyball crown is back with Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado Springs)
. The Indians dethroned two-time champ Lewis-Palmer (Monument), in large part to the efforts of setter Holly Huffman
, who was named a MaxPreps All-American. Huffman compiled 1,038 assists this season, nearly 12 per set. Cherokee Trail (Aurora)
outside hitter Shannon Webb
, meanwhile, was named to the second team after helping the Cougars to their first ever 5A crown.
• Colorado Academy lacrosse repeats as champs, continues win streak
The Colorado Academy (Denver)
girls lacrosse team ended the season with 11 consecutive victories last season. The Mustangs still haven't lost after edging Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village) 9-8 in the state championship game to cap an 18-0 season. This one was much tighter than the 8-3 title-game win over Creek last season, but it pushed the win streak to 29. Junior Claire Wright
had a had trick in the title game and goalie Bridget Sutter
made a handful of key saves in the waning moments. Cherry Creek, meanwhile, maintained its streak of appearing in every championship game since the sports was sanctioned in 1998.
• Fairview wins down-to-the-wire state swim meetFairview (Boulder)
won only two of the events at the state swim meet – both by Brittney Beetcher
– but the Knights' depth was enough to edge Regis Jesuit (Aurora) and Fossil Ridge (Fort Collins). A junior, Beetcher won the 200 and 500 freestyle events, leading the Knights to a meet-best 288.5. In Class 4A, Windsor's Morgan Friesen
won her third straight breaststroke title. She'll go for a fourth next season.