Checking in with Tigers lacrosse, soccer, baseball and track before the spring season
Spring home schedules
All Summit High School home games are played at Tigers Stadium. Track has no home meets this season and baseball has just one home game, a weather-dependent match at the Frisco fields on May 4 against Battle Mountain. For up-to-date stat and a complete schedule, including away games and tournament info, search for Summit High School Colorado at http://www.maxpreps.com.
March 12 — vs. Palisade, 11 a.m.
March 22 — vs. Eagle Valley, 4 p.m.
March 25 — vs. Delta, 4 p.m.
March 29 — vs. Steamboat, 4 p.m.
April 26 — vs. Glenwood Springs, 4 p.m.
May 5 — vs. Rifle, 4 p.m.
March 14 — vs. Green Mountain, 4:30 p.m.
March 18 — vs. Durango, 4 p.m.
April 1 — vs. Grand Junction, 4 p.m.
April 5 — vs. Golden, 4 p.m.
April 7 — vs. Aspen, 4 p.m.
April 22 — vs. Fruita Monument, 4 p.m.
April 30 — vs. Valor Christian, 11 a.m.
March 17 — vs. Conifer, 4 p.m.
March 31 — vs. Glenwood Springs, 4 p.m.
April 2 — vs. Thompson Valley, 11 a.m.
April 6 — vs. Eagle Valley, 4 p.m.
April 29 — vs. Englewood, 4 p.m.
For once, you’d almost think it was actually spring sports season in Summit County.
The past few weeks have brought sun and plenty of snowmelt to the county, meaning the Summit High sports teams (girl’s soccer, boy’s and girl’s lacrosse, baseball, track and field) were spoiled with practice time on the same outdoor fields where they spend most of the season. Don’t be fooled — at least one or two games this season will be rescheduled for a freak blizzard — but real-life practice on dry turf is something of a treat for mountain-town athletes and coaches.
“The thing that’s hard is you share the field with a lot of teams,” said Mike Grinnell, boy’s head lacrosse coach, echoing a sentiment shared by his peers. “Sometimes it will be snowing in the middle of the season, so we try to use our time as well as we can between the turf and in the gym, with drills and the rest.”
It couldn’t have come too soon. The season is already underway, with the majority of teams playing for the first time this weekend. Several teams are very young, one is under new management and still another is eyeing the state championships already, but all are ready for a strong showing between now and the start of tournament play in May.
The Summit Daily sports desk caught up with head coaches in early March for a look at the season to come.
Lady Tigers head coach Merri McKissoc is new this season, but she’s hardly new to the sport — or Summit lacrosse. She’s a former Division I field hockey player from Ball State University who brings more than 13 years of lacrosse coaching experience to the field, including 11 years in Summit as the first head coach when the high school program was first introduced.
Now McKissoc is back and she has a huge corps of girls behind her. This season’s team is the largest in school history: more than 40 players tried out. That’s more than enough to field varsity and JV teams, although coach will rely heavily on five or six seniors and about 10 juniors to lead a team heavy with never-ever sophomores and freshmen.
“I think this will be building year,” McKissoc said. “Last year wasn’t very successful from the stats I saw, but we have a lot of talent, both old and new, and every game we’ll grow. We will improve.”
Her goal for varsity squad: at least a .500 record, with strong play from talented seniors Loren and Katelyn Keen. The team was thrown into the thick of things on Friday with an away game against powerhouse Fruita Monument and lost, 4-18.
“We’re a new team playing against an established team, and Fruita is by far the hardest team from the stats I’ve seen,” McKissoc said. “They’re a tough team on the field. Better to jump right into it.”
This should be an interesting season for boy’s lacrosse. The team graduated 8 of 11 starters last season, including the entire defensive line and two-time All-State goalie Jordan Nelson.
But head coach Grinnell is up to the challenge of restructuring — and so is his team.
“Our defense (this season) is raw but very athletic,” Grinnell said. “We’ll build off that athleticism and go from there. We might have some growing pains in the beginning but we’re excited to see where we can take it.”
It begins with a new goalie, Sawyer March, who missed all of last season. Despite the time off, Grinnell said March looks comfortable in the net. He’s ready to fill Nelson’s massive shoes, and with help from senior captain Wil Laidlaw, coach believes the team can take at least a few from deep programs like Aspen, Conifer, Valor Christian and rival Battle Mountain.
“We just need to keep moving forward, keep the positivity up,” Grinnell said. “We know we will see setbacks through the season due to lack of experience and that’s really no one’s fault. If we can learn from mistakes and not go backwards, that’s the biggest thing.”
If a 2-4 loss to bitter rivals Battle Mountain can inspire, motivate and even energize a team, then it’s only a sign of good things to come.
Or so head coach Tommy Gogolen believes. On Thursday, the Tigers faced the Huskies at home for the first game of the season. It was a loss, true, but those two points were the most Summit has scored against Battle Mountain since 2009, when the local girls scored just once in a 7-1 rout.
“They’re going to have to play their hearts out, but if they bring what they brought to that first game we can get there,” Gogolen said after the match. Like the boy’s lacrosse team, the soccer squad is young and largely untested, with just three seniors and a huge collection of underclassmen with no varsity experience. Coach is relying heavily on his captains — keeper Lexi Vanderhoeven, midfielder Katie Sullivan and sweeper Marin Pennell — to set the tone on the field and at practice.
“A lot of these girls don’t really have the varsity experience,” Gogolen said. “We have freshman who are getting thrown right in the fire. For the most part, it’s new faces on the varsity squad.”
Still, Gogolen has faith that his team will post a .500 record or better (the Lady Tigers went 3-12 last season). But first, they have to weather a rough opening stretch: Steamboat Springs, Palisade and Battle Mountain again, all within the first two weeks.
Track and field
The first track and field meet of the season is still two weeks away and the Tigers already have an eye on state. Head coach Kristy McClain says this year’s large crew of 53 girls and boys has a stellar chance of making state, especially with the 4×800 relay teams.
First are the state veterans: girl’s captain McKenna Ramsay, along with Ruthie Boyd, Megan McDonnell and Jessica Horii, all seniors who expect to qualify as a team for the fourth year in a row.
Then, there are the nearly-state veterans: boy’s co-captains Logan Ramsay and Nate Martin, who have missed the 4×800 state event by a single spot each year. McClain hopes to round out the team with another strong senior, Ben Jorgenson, who she expects to “be a vital leg on that relay again this year.”
After a heartbreaking near-miss during the fall cross-country season — the girl’s team missed state by one spot, shades of the 4×800 boy’s relay — McKenna Ramsay wants to end her high school career on top with a title in the 400-meter dash. She took third as a sophomore and fourth as a junior.
Like boy’s lacrosse and girl’s soccer, this season’s baseball team is very young: six of head coach Tom Looby’s starters graduated last year, and he’s now looking to a group of just five seniors and juniors with past varsity experience to set the tone.
“The biggest uncertainty for us is whether or not we’ll be able to hit,” Looby said. “We had a very good slugging team last year with the seniors, so this year we might have to take a different strategy, play a little more small ball. But we’ll see how that all develops.”
Looby has faith that his pitching rotation can fill the gaps. The Colorado High School Sports Association introduced new pitch limits this year, meaning pitchers must rest up to three days based on pitch count, not innings played. This might be a major downfall for some teams, but coach is confident he has at least six or seven pitchers who can “paint the zone pretty well,” including varsity veterans Sam Hull and Andrew Shaw.
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