A look at 2015 Summit High School football, soccer, girl’s rugby and more
High school sports season has arrived in Summit.
In early September, more than 200 youth athletes took to the courts and fields for the first games of the 2015 season. Just about every varsity team boasts a strong corps of veteran seniors, but, as usual in the preps sports world, final standings will depend on an up-and-coming collection of underclassmen.
There were also several coaching shake-ups during the long off-season, most notably Landon Greve, the first-year football head coach who led his team to its first home win in three season with a 34-7 rout of Skyview High School at home on Sept. 4.
Before entering the thick of the season, coaches weigh in on their teams, strategies and — most importantly — what preps fans can expect from the Tigers girls and guys.
Football will be a sport to watch this season. Greve, a former Tigers quarterback, has already brought renewed life and energy to a Summit team that’s struggled to record more than two or three wins over the past few seasons.
Part of the head coach’s success can be attributed to new blood, but he’s also brought a noticeably different culture to the Gridiron at Tiger Stadium.
“This is the best start I’ve seen for football in a long time,” said Peter Janes, the team’s longtime orthopedic doctor, in the fourth quarter of the Sept. 4 game. “It reminds me of the culture with the girl’s rugby team, what Karl Barth has done there. Guys aren’t making the team just because they’re seniors or just because they’ve been around a long time. (Greve) is letting the best guys play.”
Starting junior quarterback Luke Notaro (3) is a smart, confident leader in the pocket and on the scramble, recording one passing and one running touchdown in the home opener. He’s supported by senior running back Dekota Rhodes (49) and senior wide receiver Tony Finley (2), both veterans who are hungry to graduate with a winning season.
On defense, senior linebackers Duncan Matlock, Will Flannagan and Jack Anderson lead a D-line Greve calls “vicious.” They stopped Skyview repeatedly on third and fourth down, even while the cornerbacks struggled to stop deep passes on key downs.
In 2014, the boy’s soccer team enjoyed its best season ever under head coach Tommy Gogolen, reaching the state semifinals thanks to a crew of 10 veteran seniors — nearly the entire starting roster. The team lost in the first round to 4A runner-up The Classical Academy, but the season proved the Tigers could be a force in the Western Slope.
“We’re a totally different team this year,” said Gogolen, who graduated his entire starting lineup. “The guys are trying to figure out each other, figure out their positions, and I’m doing the same. It’s just a matter of figuring out the best lineup for right now.”
That means it’s time to rebuild. The varsity team started the 2015 season with a respectable group of eight seniors, along with a handful of talented underclassmen. Gogolen is relying on his captains, senior defenseman Nate Martin (4) and his junior counterpart Ty Michalowski (15), to recapture the spark from 2014.
But rebuilding takes time. The team currently sits at 0-2 after early-season losses to Conifer on Aug. 27 and Valor Christian on Sept. 10. The young, untested Tigers strikers have yet to score a goal, and offense is a necessity when they take on a powerhouse team from The Classical Academy on Sept. 12 at home.
Offensive struggles aside, Gogolen is confident his front line will get stronger, smarter and more assertive through the year, thanks in large part to intense cardio training.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Gogolen said. “It’s not fun to work on your fitness twice a day, but they’re stepping up. They understand that there are gaps that need to be filled, and the work ethic is high. That’s all I can ask for before the season really starts.”
After an up and down 2014 season, Tigers volleyball is ready to make a statement.
“It’s all about the mental toughness this year,” said coach Liz Waddick. “Their motto this year is, ‘Always earned, never given.’”
That mental toughness relies on a strong, familiar group of veterans. Thanks to five starting seniors, including one who’s been on the varsity squad since freshman year, Waddick is at the helm of a well-rounded team. The backcourt defense is the best it’s been in several years, while up front, freshman Anna Marie Dodson is a blocking and striking force at 6-foot, 3-inches.
The varsity team won its first match handily, taking three consecutive sets during inter-league play in Rifle on Sept. 10. Junior Sam Buer hit .600, supported by senior Emily Wallace with a hitting percentage of .500. The season kicks into high gear on Sept. 17, when the Tigers take on league rivals Eagle Valley.
“Great win tonight,” Waddick said. “Successfully served aggressively and ran a quick and strong offense. The girls had a ton of fun.”
When the Summit girl’s rugby team takes to the pitch, opposing players and coaches know they’re in for one hell of a physical game. The team won its seventh-consecutive state championship last year, beating Fort Collins 70-0 in typical show-stopping fashion.
Then, 16 seniors graduated, and it was nearly back to square one. This season, the team is younger than it’s been in several years: Of 52 total players between varsity and JV, 25 are freshman.
“Because of the culture we’ve built, the older players do a lot of mentoring,” longtime head coach Karl Barth said before the team’s first regular season match on Sept. 11. “But still, at the same time, you realize that you have to teach a lot of skills again. When you have a handful of young players you can catch them up to speed quickly, but with this many, there’s always something to work on.”
Barth will rely on a trio of all-star players to lead the charge: Co-captain Becca Jane Rosko, a Team USA Junior Olympian and high school All-American; co-captain Meg Rose, an Atlantis Select player; and Natalie Gray, another high school All-American.
It’s no wonder the Tigers cross-country team is always competitive. Each summer, the runners train and compete together at local trail races. By the time the season begins, they’re in top shape for the fall season.
“I think we have a strong crew overall,” head coach Heather Quarantillo said. “They have been pressing each other to run faster, work together and really become a cohesive group.”
Like road cycling, teamwork is key to a strong cross-country season. Team scores are decided by the top five finishers for boys and girls, which means one or two strong individuals can’t make up for a weak roster.
This year’s team has nine seniors and 25 runners total, including regular top-10 finishers Ruthie Boyd, McKenna Ramsay and Emily Pappas. The trio could lead the girl’s team to its tenth state championship meet in 14 years.
The boy’s team hasn’t been to state in several seasons, but Quarantill still expects strong single-meet showings from Alex Leihman, Skylar Dracos and Alex Nixon.
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