SHS recap: Ski teams looking strong again
The high school winter season is young still, but with two frenzied weeks of pre-holidays competition and seven more to come, we figured it was a good time to recap what’s happened already and look ahead to each Summit High team’s prospects for the rest of the season. As usual, the winter promise begins on the snow, where the SHS girls and boys ski teams are seeking their third straight state title and third in four years, respectively.Nordic skiingThere has only been one high school race thus far, along with a few Rocky Mountain Division club competitions. If anything is yet known, it’s that Brittany Perkins is every bit the girl to beat at this year’s state championships. The elder member of the Perkins sister act and already a three-time state champion, Brittany, a senior, even beat Jamie Woelk of Crested Butte earlier this season, no small feat in junior skiing these days.Sophomore Briana Perkins also appears to be in the hunt for podium finishes at state, though she’ll need something of a shocker to top her sister. Lauren Jefferson, Mackenzie Jones and freshman Hannah Hausman, among others, seem to be on track to give SHS plenty of top-10 state finishers.On the boys side, senior Patrick Neel took second in the first high school race (a classic at Gold Run), followed closely by his classmate Kevin Soller in third. Matt Bowers (10th at Gold Run) gives Summit three senior boys who can crack the top 10 on any day.If the Tigers sweep the state races like they swept the season opener, it would likely lead to state titles 32 and 33 in February.
Alpine skiingThe Tigers hosted a season-opening giant slalom at Copper Mountain on Dec. 16., where the girls team won behind top finishes from Erin Breslin (second place), Alex Guras (fourth) and Chelsey Fretz (eighth).The boys team skied to a fourth-place finish behind top-20 finishes from Tanner Bardin (eighth) and Brian Joyce (14th).If the boys had been full strength, the Tigers may very well have swept their only home race. Senior Tanner Macdonald – last year’s GS state champion – and sophomore Zach Fretz are among several Tigers with multiple ski team commitments. When conflicted, Summit racers often ski with their club teams, leaving the Tigers without their fastest athletes. Such was the case at Copper. Youth abounds for the alpiners, who have just two seniors, Macdonald and Jenna Sheely, on the roster.Girls basketballThe SHS girls hoopsters began the season by finishing second in their eight-team holiday tournament. They are currently 4-2 with wins over Middle Park, Clear Creak, Colorado Academy and St. Mary’s Academy. The Tigers have lost to 5A Arapahoe and Rifle. The Bears are Summit’s only 4A opponent thus far.Sophomore shooting guard Samantha Neal, a first team all-Jeffco selection last year who set the school’s single-season scoring record, leads the team in scoring again with 17.3 points per game. Senior point guard Cissy Daniels is chipping in 15.1 ppg to the backcourt-heavy scoring attack.
The absence of senior all-league post player Amanda Neal has hurt the Tigers. Only two players have more than 20 rebounds thus far, Allie Esparza (25) and Daniels (21). Lynlee Holloway, a 5-foot-11 junior, is averaging 10 points per game but has been plagued by foul trouble for much of the year.Last season, Summit lost to Silver Creek in the state tournament’s Sweet 16. The Tigers play the Raptors on the road tonight in a rematch that could be telling of Summit’s potential. Boys basketballLed by much-improved wing player Clint Hamilton, the 3-4 Tigers have enjoyed an up-and-down – or, rather, down-and-up – season. Summit lost its first three games, then won its next three, before dropping the pre-break finale to undefeated Clear Creek.Hamilton has been a man among boys thus far for Summit. In the season’s first seven games, the athletic 6-foot-5 junior averaged 17.4 ppg, 8.6 rebounds per game and had three double-doubles – including a 32-point, 21-rebound performance in a loss at Lake County. Still, consistent support has been lacking. Senior Alex Shackleton returned from an injury to average 12 ppg over the final four games; another senior, Jordan McCarthy, still hasn’t found his shooting stroke but has managed 10 ppg along the way. Versatile junior guard Tucker Shelden leads the team in steals and assists.SHS coach Mike Rathgeber still says the team’s goal is to make the state playoffs (12-12 Summit lost in the first round last year), but it’s going to be tough. The Tigers’ first few January games are against some of the best teams in 4A.
WrestlingThis tiny, undermanned team continues to be the Andrew Vawter-Beaird story. Vawter-Beaird, a compact and stout senior, advanced to the state tournament last year in the 119-pound division; he appears to be headed back this year at 125 pounds. Vawter-Beaird won his weight class at the 19-team Mustang Classic to wrap up the pre-holiday break with a remarkable 11-1 record. He still may drop down to 119 pounds due to the post-holidays two-pound weight allowance (which means he’d only have to get to 121). Either way, he’s determined and on a roll.Senior Tim Gurule finished the break on a 3-2 streak for the Tigers, whose numbers have been hurt by injuries and noninterest once again.Ice hockeyFor a team that began the year with Final Four aspirations, the Tigers have limped to a 2-5 record. They lost starting goalie Seth Wickham to ineligibility before the season began, and an inconsistency on the ice has crippled the high expectations. As their first-year coach, Bryan Smith, points out after just about every game, the team plays two great periods and a subpar one, leading, five times out of seven, to a loss.Senior defenseman Billy Barto has been a bright spot; he leads the team with seven goals, including back-to-back hat tricks in Summit’s two wins. In all, no fewer than 13 players have scored at least one goal for the Tigers.The potential of this team shows in the fact that SHS has outscored its opponents 27-25, despite the 2-5 record. If the Tigers are going to turn things around, sophomore goalie Nick Springer must become more stingy in net, and the Tigers must put together three good periods every game, not just once every couple of weeks.
Girls swimming and divingSecond-year coach Laura Graf began this season with only 22 athletes on her roster, but she said she has enjoyed teaching the first-time swimmers and divers that have joined the team.The Tigers utilized their home-pool advantage by winning the Summit Invite to open the season. SHS finished 87 points ahead of second-place Columbine, one of two 5A schools at the meet.Nicole Luby, Kylie Nilson, Lacie Williams, Erin Gray, Brittany Moore, Micah Mesko and diver Shauna Neely all led Summit with top finishes. Nilson, in particular, is looking to compete at the state meet for the third straight season.Following the Summit Invite, the Tigers lost a dual with Evergreen and took sixth at the Jeffco 10 Relays.The much-improved Neely has won both of Summit’s diving meets this season. In her first outing, she earned a score of 195.4 and met the qualifying standard for the 4A state competition. The Tigers’ only senior diver needs to earn one more qualifying score in order to secure her first trip to state.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13630, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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