Senior spotlight: Summit’s Emily Wallace, Autumn Ward, Ethan Moroco and Connor Hintgen
Hey Tigers nation, are you heading to any homecoming matchups this week? Tag your Instagram and Twitter photos with #SumCoSports to see them live on the SDN sports homepage.
Editor’s note: This is second in a three-part homecoming series on senior athletes. Find the final installment in tomorrow’s edition, then head to the sports section at http://www.summitdaily.com for more photos and extended athlete Q&As. The first installment also misspelled Wil Laidlaw’s last name. Our apologies to Wil.
It’s homecoming in the High Country, and that means Summit High will be facing rivals with school pride on the line.
Halfway through the fall sports season, the Summit Daily News connected with seniors from six varsity sports — boy’s soccer, girl’s rugby, football, volleyball and cross-country, plus the statewide mountain bike league — for an inside glimpse at Tigers athletics.
Emily Wallace, No. 3
At 6 feet tall, Emily Wallace is a constant threat on the volleyball court. The senior outside hitter can defend and attack, with 41 kills and a .259 hitting percentage after nine matches.
The Tigers enjoyed a stellar to the season, going 4-2 early on thanks to a core group of five seniors. The team has slipped a bit in league play and now sits at 4-5 overall, but Wallace and her fellow seniors still have eight matches remaining to win the 4A title. At this point, it’s anyone’s for the taking.
First volleyball memory: The first time I ever played volleyball, I thought that it was fun, but at the time I thought that basketball was going to be my sport — which ended up being completely wrong. I have continued to play this sport throughout the years because I love the thrill of the game and how much of a team we are.
HS career highlight: My first varsity game as a sophomore. I got a really good kill and the whole crowd started chanting. It was so exhilarating and I just wanted to get more and more.
Favorite off-court memory: Going to all the football games and cheering for them.
If I wasn’t playing volleyball…: I’d probably be playing golf. I have never really tried it, but it seems like a good sport to know because you can continue to do it for the rest of your life.
Pre-match meal: I love to eat a big sandwich with some apples or grapes before a game. It helps me fuel up.
Post-match ritual: After we win a game, I love to go out somewhere and just be with my friends and family.
Pump-up music: When I’m working out, I enjoy listening to hip-hop music because it just makes you pumped up.
Superstition: I always wear a pink and purple hair tie around my left shoe for games, for good luck.
Biggest rival: Eagle Valley because they are my club teammates, so when we play each other during school ball it turns into a little healthy competition.
Autumn Ward, No. 15
Volleyball hasn’t always been Autumn Ward’s calling. As a freshman — just four short years ago — the 5-foot-9-inch newcomer picked volleyball over rugby on a whim. By sophomore year, she was already playing up at the varsity level.
The senior has emerged as a team leader in her career, filling gaps on the court with speed and a confident first touch. Along with Wallace, she hopes to pull the Tigers out of a rough mid-season lull. She enters the final eight matches with a .145 hitting percentage and minimal errors.
First volleyball memory: The first time I played volleyball was my freshman year at tryouts. I wasn’t even going to play, but my dad’s girlfriend at the time convinced me. I was going to play rugby, but I made the C team and I really liked to slam the volleyball on the ground. I fell in love.
HS career highlights: Playing up on varsity for a couple of matches as a sophomore, but this year will probably be the highlight of my high school career because we are doing very well.
Favorite off-court memory: Sophomore year on the way to Steamboat. We couldn’t stop because we were on Rabbit Ears Pass and one of my teammates really needed to go to the bathroom and she ended up going in a plastic bag.
If I wasn’t playing volleyball…: I would most definitely be playing basketball because that is my other favorite sport.
Pre-match meal: A meatball sandwich from Subway.
Post-match ritual: My favorite way to celebrate is hanging out with my friends and going to get cookies.
Pump-up music: Well, school appropriate is pop. Otherwise, Snoop Dogg gets me pumped, and most of ‘90s rap does too.
Superstitions: Our team’s pre-game ritual is to write our fears on a piece of paper and discard them afterwards. We also all say our fear, and after, repeat: “But I have faith in my team and believe that we will win,” then we say how we will support the team and our goals for the game. My personal ritual is to eat chocolate-covered espresso beans, and for home games I wear a headband with my hair in a braid.
Biggest rival: The other right side, because more often than not we are competing for the same position.
It all started with the Summit Mountain Challenge series for Connor Hintgen. The senior rider first raced on local trails in fourth grade, about nine years ago, and hasn’t stopped since. He’s now part of a strong Tigers mountain bike team that has a stranglehold on the Division II North title in the Colorado High School Cycling League.
With two races remaining, including the state championship on Oct. 25 in Eagle, head coach Fred Newcomer believes Hintgen has a shot at making the state cutoff. The senior is 14 out of 132 riders overall in the JV boy’s division, and with a stellar showing at the Oct. 10 race in Nathrop, he could end his high school career with a podium finish.
“Every single year, he gets better and better,” Newcomer said. “His racing this summer in the local series was very impressive, and rolling into this season, he’s improved with every race. He just needs to keep the legs cranking.”
First mountain biking memory: When I first started mountain biking I loved it immediately. It was a competition between the other riders and myself. Plus, the adrenaline rush was incredible.
HS career highlight: This year has been the most successful year, with the Summit Tigers mountain bike team currently in first place in Division II (north) out of 15 teams total and a total of 377 racers.
I ride because: After the race, when the adrenaline rush wears off and nerves calm down, the team is gathered around under the tent eating and comparing the great parts of the race, the crashes, the mechanicals and, hopefully, the ultimate victory.
If I weren’t riding…: There aren’t any second choices for me — mountain biking is the ultimate!
Pre-race meal: It is too difficult to eat anything. I have to choke down chocolate milk and hopefully a Tiger Bar or Clif Bar. Nerves make eating too difficult.
Post-race celebration: (Hopefully) standing on podium with a medal (or cash!)
Pump-up music: Eminem
Superstitions: My Bamboo Colorado socks (and) I don’t wear underwear. The socks have holes, but I still wear them!
Biggest rival: Myself — I always feel like I can do better! My teammates and coaches inspire me to always try harder, go faster and give 110 percent.
Like many, senior Ethan Moroco started playing golf as a kid, when he signed up for a junior golf program at 7 years old and played the occasional round with his dad. It was more of a hobby at first, but he soon found a knack for it. He joined the Tigers golf team as a JV player and was hooked on the world of competitive golf.
This season, Moroco’s average score suffered from a few early round hiccups, but he started strong at the first tournament in Grand Junction, shooting a team-leading 83 on 18 holes. Head coach Gary Sorenson says the senior’s attitude and resiliency — even in the middle of a tough round — made him a natural leader on a young golf team.
“I told him, ‘Don’t cave in,’” Sorenson remembers after Moroco struggled on the Front 9 of the regional tournament Sept. 26-27. “Do the best and dig in, and he really did. With all that perceived weight off his shoulders, he went out on top in the last few holes.”
First golfing memory: I started playing golf at a really young age, about 7. I found it challenging at first, but I kept playing with my dad and through my local junior golf program. Eventually, I was making good shots and getting better each and every time I played. From that point, I was hooked.
HS career highlight: My senior season. Getting to play the number one position and being a role model to younger players is what I’d looked forward to since way back in freshman year. I get to be the guy that I looked up to when I was a first-year player.
Favorite pre-round memory: Before our home tournament at Keystone, our entire team went out to a pre-game breakfast. It was a great time laughing and joking with the younger guys before a big match.
If I weren’t golfing…: I would be spending a lot of time in the outdoors, enjoying what’s left of the nice weather. I would be doing a lot of skateboarding at our local park, hiking, biking and spending time with friends. Instead, however, I’m at practice everyday after school!
Pre-round meal: I like to have a big, American breakfast, comprised of eggs, bacon, pancakes, potatoes and a tall glass of orange juice.
Post-round ritual: It’s a team tradition to go to McDonalds after a big win and pig out on the dollar menu. It’s fun while you’re eating, but afterwards, your stomach begins to hate you. It’s a team tradition for someone to do the $20 dollar challenge once per season: You have to spend $20 dollars only on the value menu and eat all of it. Usually, the older players will coax a younger player into attempting it. It’s a good bonding activity for the entire team.
Pump-up music: I listen to hip-hop music before golf tournaments. It helps me relax while also helping me get in the zone. We usually have to leave pretty early for golf tournaments — almost always before 7 a.m. — so, I sleep on the bus with my headphones on. When I wake up, I’m ready.
Superstitions: I always stretch and hit the range before teeing off. That way, I’m warmed up and in the right mindset.
Biggest rival: Myself. Golf is difficult, because not only is it an individual sport, but (it’s) also a mental game. My worst days of golf have been ones where I wasn’t confident in my own abilities. Confidence is key, and in golf, you have to have a strong mental game.
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