Spring Preps Report: On the snowy field with 2017 Summit High spring sports teams | SummitDaily.com

Spring Preps Report: On the snowy field with 2017 Summit High spring sports teams

If you haven't caught the Summit High girls lacrosse team in action this spring, you've got to see a game. Like, immediately.

After five matches, the Lady Tigers is off to a stellar 4-1 start, including two wins against Eagle Valley and one against big, bad Fruita-Monument. The team is heavy on seniors, but head coach Merri McKissock says her entire crew is tough and talented, from four-year starters to freshman substitutes. It shows: 4-1 is her team's best opening record since 2011, which just so happens to be the last time Summit girls lacrosse had a winning season (9-6).

"We've had a great start to the season," McKissock said. "We've had big wins over teams that beat us last year, and that's been cool to see."

Girls lacrosse isn't the only Summit High varsity team enjoying a stellar spring. Baseball is also off to a comfortable 4-2 start, while boys lacrosse (0-2) and girls soccer (1-6) are finding their grooves in time for the thick of 4A league play this April. Track and field has five meets remaining before leagues, which means plenty of chances to qualify a few athletes for the state championship.

After the first few games and meets of March, the Summit Daily sports desk caught up with head coaches for all five spring varsity sports to talk about the season so far, the season to come and what it'll take for the Tigers to make the postseason.

Baseball

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Record: 4-2 overall, 0-0 4A Western Slope

These Tigers are in it to win it.

After barely missing the postseason in 2015 — the Tigers went 12-6 to miss the cut by less than one point — the team graduated a slew of seniors and nearly started from scratch in 2016, when head coach Tom Looby had just one senior and a full roster of talented (but untested) juniors and sophomores.

By 2017, Looby's team is ready for another shot at what could've been two years ago.

"I'm very proud of these guys," Looby said after the team's 4-2 start. "One thing we have going for us is good, strong senior leadership. We only had one senior last year and it really does make a difference to have some solid, mature seniors on the team."

It all starts with Summit's four captains: seniors Andrew Shaw, Sam Hull, Brian Hessler and Jacob Payer. Shaw and Hull are Looby's aces — Shaw was ranked No. 2 for strikeouts in the 4A Western Slope last season — while Hessler and Payer are stonewalls in the field. Oh, and each one can hit.

Looby has also been impressed with Omar Nunez, another senior who's playing his first season with the Tigers.

"He's really contributed to our package of players," Looby said of Nunez, a rightie who pitches and plays center field. "I really don't feel like we have any weak spots. There are kids who are hitting stronger than others, but I think everyone will come together. Definitely we're very solid on the field."

The Tigers open league play against Rifle tomorrow (April 1) in Rifle. Looby knows they'll need to carry plenty of momentum into the league schedule, which is packed with away double-headers and tough teams like Rifle, Eagle Valley and Palisade.

"That's always a challenge, between pitch counts and the pressure you have on a pitching staff," Looby said about the double-header routine. "We hope we're in a position at the end to compete with some of those upper-level teams in our league for a conference championship."

Girls lacrosse

Record: 4-1 overall, 4-1 in 4A Western league

When Summit girls lacrosse beat Fruita-Monument, 12-6 at home on March 14, head coach McKissock knew this year's team was special.

"Fruita has always beat us up — gotten those really big wins with up to a 20-goal differential," McKissock said. "We had a solid win against them."

The Fruita-Monument win came less than a week after the team's first (and only) loss of the season, a 5-15 away game against Grand Junction. That could've been the start of a downward spiral, but with a roster of 13 seniors, coach knew her team had the experience and patience to shrug off an early loss.

Now, it's just a matter of maintaining that can't-lose attitude. Senior sisters Loren and Katelyn Keen are as solid as ever, and fellow senior Maddy Remias is a "big offensive leader," coach said. Young Maddy Markel "has really grown up" her sophomore year, coach continued, and senior Ella Piecoup is having her best season in the net.

What will it take for a fantastic opening record to become a fantastic season? More of the same, McKissock said.

"We are vastly better than we were before, but there is still room for improvement," said McKissock, who noted her team is much better at passing this season but can still work on focus and intensity at game time. "My goal is another .500 record this year and the only way we'll get that is by playing as a team with solid fundamentals. So far that's been the case."

Boys lacrosse

Record: 0-2 overall, 0-2 4A Western league (March 30 vs. Glenwood Springs not available at press time)

The season is off to a slow start for the boys in green and white. After two early losses — 11-10 to Eagle Valley on March 21 and 18-9 to Vail Mountain School on March 24 — the Tigers are down two games in a 15-game schedule. That leaves plenty of time to recoup, but it'll be an uphill battle. Summit finished the 2016 season at 1-12 overall and 1-7 in the former 4A Slope league, and the team hasn't had a winning season since 2011 when it went 9-6. (The boys have gone 8-8 twice since then).

Mountain-town lacrosse is notoriously tough, dominated by powerhouse teams like Steamboat Springs and Vail Mountain School, but the Tigers are no pushovers. Summit boasts four seniors and a whopping eight juniors, plus plenty of promising sophomores. If they want to hit .500 or better, they need to win on the road: 9 of 15 games are played away from home turf.

Girls soccer

Record: 1-6 overall, 1-4 4A Western Slope

The record only tells half the story for the Summit girls soccer team. At 1-6 overall, it seems like the 15-game season is nearly over before it begins. Yet in all but one loss — a 0-4 rout at Palisade to open the season on March 11 — the Lady Tigers have been beat by two goals or less. Thing is, they aren't getting blown out — they just can't find that winning goal.

"We're losing games by a goal," head coach Tommy Gogolen said. "Things are starting to click for the girls and we have a lot of talent, with a lot of leadership, but we just need to put all the pieces together."

Those pieces came together wonderfully in the team's sole win: a 2-1 shocker against longtime foes Battle Mountain on March 17. The win "instilled belief," Gogolen said, and even though the team hasn't been able to recapture the magic of a rivalry win, they've played tough against the league's best teams, including No. 2 Steamboat Springs. Sure, Battle Mountain is having a 0-5 off year, but Summit can still steal games from Glenwood Springs, Eagle Valley and even No. 1 Palisade before the season is finished. Post-season hopes are fading, but Gogolen is still confident his team can finish at .500 or better.

"This year we have the skill to possess the ball and be an attacking team," said Gogolen, who praised his defense for putting a lid on blowouts. "We're just lacking a little composure, and that's something we've been working on in practice."

Track and field

Call it the season of the hurdler.

For the first time in maybe forever, the Summit track and field team of 65 boys and girls is loaded with hurdlers. One of them, freshman Hunter Stimson, is even chasing her mom's school record in the 300-meter hurdles: 48.02 in 1984, when Signa Rockne was a senior at Summit High. Stimson's best time so far: 50.65.

"It's kind of cool: Our fastest female hurdler's mom holds the school record and she wants to beat it," head coach Kristy McClain said. "And she's just a freshman."

McClain's team competed in its fourth meet of the season yesterday and is slowly coming together. No one has qualified for state yet, but there's plenty of time between now and the league meet in Grand Junction from May 5-6.

"It's a rebuilding year, but we look strong and I think we're going to have a great season," McClain said. "I say this every year, but we have a great group of kids. It makes it a lot of fun to watch them run and jump and throw."

2017 Tigers spring schedules

Don your forest green and show the Tigers some love at this season’s Summit High home games. Below are times and locations for varsity only. To see complete schedules, including away games and JV, see MaxPreps.com.

| Girls soccer |

April 8 — vs. Palisade, Summit at 11 a.m.

April 11 — vs. Battle Mountain, Summit at 4 p.m.

April 29 — vs. Rifle, Summit at 11 a.m.

May 2 — vs. Glenwood Springs, Summit at 4 p.m.

May 10 — 4A state playoffs, first round TBD

May 13 — 4A state playoffs, second round TBD

May 18 — 4A state playoffs, quarterfinals TBD

May 20 — 4A state playoffs, semi-finals TBD

May 24 — 4A state playoffs, finals TBD

| Boys lacrosse |

April 4 — vs. Steamboat, Summit at 4 p.m.

April 6 — vs. Grand Junction, Summit at 4 p.m.

April 25 — vs. Eagle Valley, Summit at 4 p.m.

May 4 — vs. Battle Mountain, Summit at 4 p.m.

May 10 — 4A state prelims, TBD

May 17 — 4A state semi-finals, TBD

May 20 — 4A state finals, May 20

| Girls lacrosse |

April 5 — vs. Steamboat Springs, Summit at 4 p.m.

April 10 — vs. Conifer, Summit at 4 p.m.

April 26 — vs. Battle Mountain, Summit at 4 p.m.

April 27 — vs. Rangeview, Summit at 4 p.m. (varsity only)

May 10 — 4A state playoffs first round, TBD

May 20 — 4A state semifinals, TBD

May 24 — 4A state finals, TBD

| Track and field |

April 8 — Eagle Valley Invite, Gypsum at 9 a.m.

April 15 — Glenwood Springs Invite, Glenwood Springs High School 9 a.m.

April 25 — Husky Invite, Battle Mountain High School at noon

April 29 — Ram Charger Invite, Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood at 8 a.m.

May 2 — Western Slope League JV meet, Gypsum at 1:30 p.m.

May 5-6 — Western Slope/Southwestern League meet, Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction at 9 a.m.

May 11 — Joe Shields Invite, West Grand High School in Kremmling at noon

May 18-20 — 4A State Meet, TBD

| Baseball |

April 1 — vs. Rifle, Rifle at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. (varsity double header)

April 5 — vs. Battle Mountain, Edwards at 3 p.m.

April 8 — vs. Glenwood Springs, Glenwood Springs at 11 a.m. an 1 p.m. (varsity double header)

April 12 — vs. Eagle Valley, Gypsum at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. (varsity double header)

April 28 — vs. Palisade, Palisade at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. (varsity double header)

May 2 — vs. Battle Mountain, Frisco Peninsula Park at 3 p.m. (weather depending)

May 5 — vs. Steamboat Springs, Frisco Peninsula Park at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. (varsity double header, weather depending)

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