Winter Preps Preview: Checking in with 2017 Summit High basketball, wrestling, swimming and the rest | SummitDaily.com

Winter Preps Preview: Checking in with 2017 Summit High basketball, wrestling, swimming and the rest

January has already been one for the record books if you live and breathe snow. But if you prefer the indoor hard court? Not so much.

At Summit High School, the winter sports season got started in early December — right around the time snow started falling in earnest — with a handful of non-conference games and meets. Then winter break came, giving athletes three full weeks of time off, followed by powder day after powder day after powder day. On Jan. 5, Summit School District (and every other district along Interstate 70) announced a snow day for the first time in years, and that delayed the start of conference play by another few days. All told, the two Tigers basketball teams alone have been forced to cancel and reschedule six games — hard to find a groove.

"It's just been frustrating with all this snow because we're getting excited to play, and then things get rescheduled," said Jordan Buller, first-year head coach for the boys basketball team. "It's been an epic winter — it's good for us skiers — but it'll be nice to get back in the schedule."

Agreed. With conference play finally (maybe) getting started, the Summit Daily sports desk caught up with head coaches for most varsity winter sports — boys and girls basketball, girls swimming and diving, wrestling and Nordic skiing — to hear more about the teams' and postseason hopes. Here's to winter.

Nordic skiing

The one Summit team not missing time this season: Nordic and alpine skiing. By early January, 13 of the Nordic team's 30 total athletes qualified for state at the Grand County meet, and four-year head Nordic coach Jonathan Mocatta is convinced his team will qualify even more over the next month of competing.

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"We're looking good this season," Mocatta said. "We're going up against teams like Vail, Aspen (and) Steamboat, and we're holding our own with them."

The Nordic team travels to Leadville this Saturday for the highest meet of the season at 10,200 feet. This year's team is bigger than the past few seasons, with a mix of 20 high school-only athletes and about 10 Summit Nordic Ski Club athletes. It's also an international crew, with skiers coming from four continents and twice as many countries.

"We're heavy on the world, really," Mocatta said. "We have exchange students from China, from Belgium, from El Salvador and Guatemala — we're quite a cosmopolitan, global team this year."

Boys basketball

The first rivalry game of the season was tough — but promising. On Jan. 6, the Tigers varsity team faced Battle Mountain in Edwards and lost, 62-71. The team was within three points in the final two minutes before things fell apart, but Buller was happy to see his team play smart, tough, aggressive ball.

"This team plays hard," said Buller, an Indiana native who grew up playing for his dad, a 40-year veteran of the game, and ended his career in Thailand. "We are getting better at sharing the ball and moving the ball around, and our defense is coming along nicely. We're trying to create a game that's fun to watch and high-paced."

Now 3-4 (before Thursday's game against West Grand), the team is just 0-1 in the 4A Western Slope and put together confident wins against Eagle Ridge Academy, Denver North and Middle Park. Along with a rematch against Battle Mountain at home on Jan. 31, Buller — and the rest of his team — look forward to the rescheduled home game against No. 4 Silver Creek (7-1 overall).

"That's one that's marked on our calendar," Buller said. "It would be a huge boost for our team if we could sneak one away from them."

Girls basketball

Now that's how you right the ship.

After a disappointing 0-5 start to the season, the Tigers girl's basketball team returned with a string of three straight victories before the holiday break, including a 57-27 rout of Lake County on Dec. 20. The team returned from the break on Jan. 5 for a rivalry match against Battle Mountain and barely lost, 37-39.

"It was a tough loss," first-year head coach Kellyn Glynn said. "They fought back from a deficit for a while, and there might have been a call at the end that they missed. We're hoping the next time we play them we have more preparation."

Although Glynn missed the Battle Mountain game, she's looking forward to the thick of conference play beginning this week. Her team (3-6 overall, 0-1 4A Slope) of three seniors, one freshman and six juniors is working on protecting the ball and boxing out on defense. The team is also gelling nicely by now, Glynn said, led by senior Natalie Gray — a consistent scoring threat on the post — and freshman Nicole Kimball, who's holding her own as the lone freshman.

Everyone's end goal: continue righting the ship to end with a winning record.

"I hope that we have a winning record in the league," Glynn said. "I think we can definitely compete with all of the teams in this league, so when we look back on this season I want us to show that we had a winning league record."

Girls swimming and diving

In 16 seasons, Tigers head swim coach Jenny Wischmeyer has never sent a relay to the state championship meet.

Until now. Before the holiday break, Summit's 200-yard freestyle relay team — Emily Sandberg, Hannah Anderson, Abby Lau and Katerina Lee — qualified for state at the first meet of the season with a time of 1:51.06. The same team also qualified for the 400-yard freestyle relay (4:11.05), giving the Tigers not one, but two chances to compete against the best of the best at the 3A championship in early February. Both of those teams broke school records at the same time, and Wischmeyer is anxious for the season to come.

"I'm really looking forward to the season," said Wischmeyer, who has been head coach for eight seasons. "We have a lot of hard work to do in the next five weeks, but to have girls already qualified for state, that has motivated everyone that good things can happen."

The team of 35 swimmers and divers is competing in 3A for the first time this season — state times are slightly easier to reach, Wischmeyer said — and everyone looks to continue the promising season this weekend at the Lady Tiger Invite. Along with the junior-heavy relay, the entire squad is heavy on freshman with past swimming experience — perfect for the team's future.

"It's been awesome to have a group of swimmers with experience to push us to the next level," Wischmeyer said.

Wrestling

Colorado 4A wrestlers had better keep an eye on Dean Vangsnes and Alex Barela. So far this season, senior Vangsnes (182 pounds) and sophomore Barela (106 pounds) have combined for a 25-3 record, including one loss for Barela to place him at No. 8 in the state's 106-pound rankings.

"Dean and Alex are on a tear," longtime head coach Pete Baker said. "I don't want to jinx it this early, but they could place at the state meet this year. It's been two or three years since we've had someone place at the state meet."

With just nine wrestlers — one senior, three juniors, one sophomore and three freshman — this year's team is small, but it's deep. Each wrestler represents a different weight class, and although the team was flat at the first post-holiday meet at Eagle Valley on Jan. 7, the team took second-place overall at an earlier meet. That's the first time the team has placed in several years, Baker said, and he's confident everyone will recoup from the oddity at Eagle Valley.

"They were just flat out there. … But they've come back and worked hard," Baker said of the Eagle Valley meet, where Vangsnes came close to beating the No. 4-ranked wrestler in his weight class. "It's going to take basic, hard wrestling, just beating each other up in the practice room so they're ready for that when they compete."

2017 Tigers home winter schedules

Boys basketball

Jan. 19 — vs. Rifle, 7 p.m.

Jan. 26 — vs. Eagle Valley, 7 p.m.

Jan. 27 — vs. Steamboat, 7 p.m.

Jan. 31 — vs. Battle Mountain, 7 p.m.

Feb. 4 — vs. Palisade, 12:30 p.m.

Feb. 7 — vs. Glenwood, 7 p.m.

Feb. 11 — vs. Longmont, 12:30 p.m.

Girls basketball

Jan. 19 — vs. Rifle, 5:30 p.m.

Jan. 26 — vs. Eagle Valley, 5:30 p.m.

Jan. 27 — vs. Steamboat, 5:30 p.m.

Jan. 31 — vs. Battle Mountain, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 4 — vs. Palisade, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 7 — vs. Glenwood, 5:30 p.m.

Wrestling (home and away)

Jan. 19 — Summit/Eagle Valley/Basalt at Eagle Valley, 5 p.m.

Jan. 20 — Summit/Glenwood Springs/Palisade at Glenwood, 5 p.m.

Jan. 21 — Rifle Dual Tournament at Rifle, 8:30 a.m.

Feb. 1 — Summit Dual vs. Wheatridge at Summit, 6 p.m.

Feb. 3 — Summit/Glenwood/MCHS at Glenwood, 5 p.m.

Feb. 10-11 — Regionals at Denver West, time TBD

Feb. 16-18 — State Tournament at Pepsi Center, time TBD

Girls swimming and diving

Jan. 14 — Lady Tiger Invite at Summit, 10 a.m.

Jan. 17 — Summit/Conifer/Glenwood Springs at Summit, 5 p.m.

Jan. 24 — Summit vs. Kent Denver at Summit, 5 p.m.

Feb. 3-4 — 3A League Championships at Colorado Mesa University, 3:30 p.m.

Feb. 9-11 — 3A State Meet, time and location TBD

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