Spring Preps Spotlight: Summit High’s Eric Robinson, Daniel Keller, Lily Walker and Hannah Nelson
Editor’s note: This is Part One of a three-part interview series with Summit High School spring sports stars. Read on for Part Two with boys lacrosse and girls soccer and Part Three with playoff-bound baseball starters.
The April sun isn’t the only red-hot commodity in Summit County this spring.
Since March, most of the five Summit High spring sports — girls lacrosse, girls soccer, boys lacrosse, track and field, and baseball — have been enjoying phenomenal seasons. Baseball and both lacrosse teams currently have winning records in the 4A Western Slope and overall season standings, while soccer and the track and field team show plenty of promise for the back half of the season and beyond. Just look at the Lady Tigers lacrosse team: the varsity squad is currently 6-4 after a stellar 5-1 start — good enough for the team’s best record in a decade — and there’s still plenty of play remaining, including Battle Mountain on April 26 at home.
At the halfway point of the season, the Summit Daily sports desk caught up with all-star juniors and seniors leading all five sports teams to talk about the season so far, the season to come and how they’ll finish with a roar. First up are Eric Robinson and Daniel Keller, two senior track standouts, and Hannah Nelson and Lily Walker, two senior lacrosse veterans.
Eric Robinson | Tigers track and field
Ask Eric Robinson four years ago why he wanted to run track, and the 6-foot, 2-inch senior would’ve told you it was cross-training for football. Ask Robinson today why he’s still running track, and the four-year senior might tell you it’s to race against one guy and one guy only: Sunday, a sprinter on the Aspen team. Robinson says Sunday will probably be in the Olympics some day, and so he’d love to tell his kids he competed against a future superstar. Why not?
Until then, Robinson is busy dropping his time in the 100-meter sprint. The 18-year-old hit 12.01 early in the season — just 0.01 off his goal of the 12-second mark.
Why I’m running track: I did love it as time went on. I had only done track to keep me in shape for football.
My track highlight: Through the years there have been many highlights, but the one that sticks to my mind was when my relay team took first at the Eagle Valley meet.
My favorite memory off the track: Just the bonding the team gets to do: being a captain on the team and watching my teammates get along and always having a good time, even when the workout is rough.
If I weren’t running track…: I would be playing lacrosse or rugby. I like those sports because of the physicality it brings. I also have many friends on the lacrosse team so that is a peer pressure thing, but I would love to be a part of those sports.
Pre-meet meal: I eat a granola bar. I drink a yellow Gatorade (and eat) a PB and J sandwich, a banana and a thing of beef jerky.
Post-win celebration: I get on one knee and I thank the almighty Lord for giving me the strength and drive that he had given me before the race.
Pump-up music: I usually listen to Migos, Lecrae, or Skillet before my race.
My pre-meet ritual: I always wear a headband. I may not have a lot of hair, but I always wear a headband.
Biggest rival on the track: My biggest rival is a dear friend on the Glenwood Springs track team. His name is Larry Flores II. We are rivals because we are usually running in the same race as each other and it’s always a toss-up, because we are usually the same speed.
Daniel Keller | Tigers track and field
Call him crazy, but 18-year-old senior Daniel Keller loves running. The four-year sprinter and hurdler started early, running circles around the other kids during physical education class in elementary school, and then competing one season with the Summit Middle School team before it folded due to lack of interest. It was a no-brainer to join the high school team his freshman year, and since that season he’s slowly been building up to a breakthrough senior year.
With two meets remaining before the 4A Western Slope league finals in Grand Junction from May 5-6, his sights are set squarely on breaking school records for 100 and 200-meter hurdles. And he’s getting closer every meet.
First track memory: I have always loved running, even before I joined track. Ever since elementary school I have been one of the fastest kids in my class, and I always looked forward to PE class because it was when I could run. Joining track didn’t really give me a new enjoyment for running, but gave me a place to run in a competitive environment.
My track highlight: It’s hard to say there has been a specific highlight moment in track. Just the fact that I am running makes my day. If I do end up breaking the record, that will certainly be the highlight though.
My favorite memory off the track: There is a college baseball game that goes on during the league meet. I love going to the meet and watching the baseball game while munching on a box of Honey Bunches of Oats.
If I weren’t running track…: I would be playing baseball. My mom is a huge Cleveland Indians fan, and so baseball has been a huge aspect of life at my house. I used to play in elementary school, but I could not hit the ball to save my life so I didn’t continue with it.
Pre-meet meal: A sandwich made with whatever lunchmeat we currently have, (plus) cheddar cheese, spinach and mustard. I love mustard.
Post-win celebration: Snickers. No chocolate will ever reach the level of a Snickers bar.
Pump-up music: I don’t listen to music when practicing. The only time I listen to music is when I am in the car listening to K-Love, and whenever I want to hear music I start singing. I generally don’t have enough breath to sing while I am practicing, but that doesn’t always stop me from singing some song that is stuck in my head.
My pre-meet ritual: I just warm up and run. Having lucky clothing would require me to put more effort on choosing my outfit that I am willing to.
Biggest rival on the track: It would probably be Eric Robinson because we have been pretty close in level during high school. Now, he would beat me in the 100, and I would win in the 200 and 400, so it is not as close as it has been. But my goal is still to beat him whenever we race.
Hannah Nelson | No. 9 Lady Tigers lacrosse
It’s a saying as old as time: defense wins championships, and with a defense led by seniors like 18-year-old Hannah Nelson, the Lady Tigers lacrosse team is coming close to its best season in a decade.
Is it good enough for a championship? Only time will tell — Summit is currently No. 4 out of eight teams in the 4A Mountain league — but there’s no questions the Summit defense is in it for the long haul. Nelson and her back line, including Lily Walker (below), will continue playing hard-edged, tough-nosed lacrosse in the backfield, giving senior goalie Ella Piecoup plenty of breathing room between attacks and senior attacker Katelyn Keen plenty of opportunities on the other side of the field.
First lacrosse memory: The first time I played lacrosse was in seventh grade and I was absolutely terrible. The thing that kept me coming back was my teammates and coaches. I had so much fun, even though I wasn’t very good.
My lacrosse highlight: Either some of the goals I’ve made, even though I play defense, or the friends I’ve made while playing lacrosse.
My favorite memory off the field: The bus rides home from away games. We always have a good time laughing and talking about basically everything.
If I weren’t playing lacrosse…: I’d probably play soccer. I played soccer as a kid but I wasn’t good, so it was a short-lived sport.
Pre-game meal: A smoothie. It keeps me energized for the entire game.
Post-win celebration: Go out to dinner with my family. My family is very supportive and I enjoy listening to them talk about how our team played.
Pump-up music: I always find myself listening to anything by Odesza or Louis the Child before games. Those songs really pump me up, and I get really excited to play while listening to them.
My pre-game ritual: I don’t really have any pre-game rituals, but I used to have lucky red socks that I’d wear for every game. When I would wear those socks the team seemed to work well together and get some nice wins.
Biggest rival on the field: Our biggest rival would probably be Battle Mountain. They have been the team to beat since my freshman year, and I think that we have what it takes this season to beat them (at home on April 26).
Lily Walker | No. 11 Lady Tigers lacrosse
Lily Walker first picked up a lacrosse stick in sixth grade gym class — and has hardly looked back since. Along with fellow senior Nelson, 17-year-old Walker is a key member of a Lady Tigers defense that’s playing Grade A ball.
Like her teammates, Walker is good at moving from strict defense to a hybrid midfield position, and with a knack for quick, confident sticking, she’s able to move the ball past the midline and into the other team’s territory. She might not have many goals to show for it, but she’s a vital cog in coach Merri McKissock’s machine.
First lacrosse memory: I was first introduced to lacrosse during my sixth grade gym class. The moment I picked up the stick I loved playing with it. I thought it was cool to learn the different stick skills that come with lacrosse and to maneuver the stick in different ways.
My lacrosse highlight: Beating Fruita while being two men down. Last year, Fruita was the best team in our league, and this year we were able to finally beat them. In one of our games against them we ended up having two men down for the entire second half, so defense had to work extra hard. As a defender, it was really gratifying to shut down their offensive players when we had the disadvantage, and we still won in the end, which felt really good.
My favorite memory off the field: My favorites memories come right before the game. We play our playlist and everyone just gets pumped. Our coach, Merri, is really good at pep talks, and she is always able to get us excited about the game and get us in the right mindset.
If I weren’t playing lacrosse…: I probably wouldn’t play another sport.
Pre-game meal: Before a game I get really nervous, so I’m not really able to eat a big meal. I usually stick to fruit, then, when the game is over, I’ll eat my big meal.
Post-win celebration: I love running to my goalie and jumping around with her and the rest of my teammates. Celebrating with my teammates on the field is something I’ll always remember after winning.
Pump-up music: I listen to fast-paced music. Nothing specific, but something I can get pumped to.
My pre-game ritual: When we first start the game, we have to line up in a straight line and have our sticks checked to see if it’s legal. After being cleared, we usually run down the line and yell and get pumped. My weird ritual is I always have to be at the beginning of the line and start off everyone on a good note.
Biggest rival on the field: Battle Mountain is our biggest rival, as I’m sure is common knowledge. We hate playing them because they’re usually pretty rude and we’ve never beaten them, but when we do lose we only lose by a few points. It’s incredibly frustrating.
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