The new fall athletic season is in full swing, with football finally joining volleyball, softball, cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, boys tennis, and gymnastics that area schools participate in. Athletes have been enduring hot temperatures to turn in some pretty stellar performances.
PHOTO IS PROVIDED BY NITA WALLS
Boys golf was the first sport to get going and Stratton’s Braden Wedel has been on fire lately. With a win at Holyoke last weekend, Wedel has now put four straight championships in his pocket. He opened this week sitting sixth in Class 3A in scoring average at 74.4 strokes per round. After Wedel had finished his round at Holyoke, he helped the Stratton football team to a 60-29 victory over Prairie, connecting on five of six PAT kicks.
Cheyenne Wells has had some great early season success on the links. The Tigers have won the team title at Burlington, as well as their own tournament. Carson Noe, Kody Ryser, and Blake Gilmore have been leading the varsity squad, while also playing key roles for the Tigers on the football field.
Lamar’s Tyler McTaggart cranked out a season-best 74 at the Pueblo County Hornet Invitational last Friday. That was good for a fifth place finish, and it helped the Savages take seventh place in the team standings. McTaggart and fellow senior Aaron Chairez anchor the team this year.
Sticking with Lamar, but shifting focus to cross country, Branden Davis posted a career-best time of 16:00.60 to win the Rocky Ford Invitational last Saturday. Lamar finished fifth overall, with Rocky Ford taking the team title. On the girls’ side of things, Karina Gomez led the way to a second place finish in the team event, crossing the line in 11th place.
Stratton’s girls have not only enjoyed an increase in numbers in the program’s second season, but also improved results. Keirstyn Louthan, who finished 43rd at state last season as a freshman, has led the way with a ninth place finish at the Carbon Valley Two Mile and a seventh place at Rocky Ford. Burlington’s Whitney Cure, who is one of several Cougars to run for Stratton, has been hot on Louthan’s heels through the first two meets.
Staying outdoors, Lamar’s boys soccer squad was in the metro area over the weekend for a two-day tournament at Denver Christian. The Savages took down Fort Lupton 1-0 on Friday, and then suffered their first loss of the season, 1-0, against DSST: College View. They will visit Pueblo County in non-league play on Thursday.
Three area teams were ranked last week in the Class 3A softball field, with La Junta (#3), Limon (#6), and Lamar (#8) all garnering attention from the coaches. Burlington was part of the group that also received votes.
La Junta picked up wins over two of those other three teams last week, outscoring Limon 16-10, and then blasting Burlington 12-4 and Wiley 12-3 over the weekend. Burlington also fell to Lamar 13-2 over the weekend, putting the Cougars on a four-game skid.
The first of the two big rivalry games between La Junta and Lamar will be played Thursday in La Junta, with the second being played in Lamar three weeks later.
Football officially kicked off the season last week, and the top teams flexed their muscles. Nine of the top ten teams in 6-man were in action last week, and six came away with lopsided wins. The three losses were to fellow ranked squads. Only top-ranked Granada, who had it’s week one game canceled due to their opponent having COVID issues, was not involved in an official game. The Bobcats scrimmaged Wiley in a combo 6/8 man workout.
Second-ranked Cheyenne Wells dominated Hi-Plains 64-14, and fourth-ranked Stratton blasted #5 Prairie 60-29. Stratton hosts Cheyenne Wells on Saturday. The two-time defending champions, Fleming, blanked Arickaree/Woodlin 42-0, showing that the Wildcats don’t rebuild, just reload. Eighth-ranked Idalia got defensive in a 66-12 upset of #6 Cheraw, scoring two touchdowns on defense. Seventh-ranked Briggsdale downed Kiowa 56-8, and #9 Genoa-Hugo moved past #10 Eads 50-39.
In eight-man action, top-ranked Sedgwick County had its 26-game winning streak snapped by the defending champion team from Nebraska 42-14, while the team the Cougars beat in December for their sixth straight title, Sanford, rolled to a 52-14 win over Crowley County. Ranked teams from the area that picked up week one wins were Holly (42-28 over Swink), Fowler (54-6 over Sargent), and Hoehne (44-12 over John Mall). Haxtun, who began the season unranked, shutout South Park 66-0.
Moving into the 11-man ranks, preseason #1 in Class 1A Limon had the week off, leaving Burlington as the lone local squad in action. With Jon Bailey taking over the reins, the Cougars were looking for their first win since 2019 when they hosted Elizabeth. The defense was stout, but the offense struggled to finish drives, resulting in a 14-6 defeat. Burlington will visit Lamar on Friday. Like Limon, Trinidad has to wait until Friday to get things started, as the Miners will visit Raton, NM.
After finishing second to Eaton last season, Lamar began this year ranked ninth. The Savages had it clicking last week, as they downed Sierra 40-8. Deyago Vasquez threw for two scores and ran for another in the victory. Brush honored long-time coach Larry Mills by naming the stadium in his honor and the Beetdiggers finished off the night in a big way downing George Washington 41-12.
in Class 3A, Fort Morgan has to make another trip to Scottsbluff NE on Monday to finish off a game that started on Monday night. Their first trip ended in a seven-all tie as the game was called at halftime due to severe weather and lightning. The teams could not come to an agreement on how playoff points were to be distributed in each state so the Mustangs are back on the bus to determine a winner and loser on Monday. Resumption and the second half kickoff is set for 7:00pm.
In 1A volleyball action, Fleming improved to 4-0 on the season, backing up its win in the Kit Carson tournament a week earlier by beating Weldon Valley 3-0 in league play last Friday. Cheyenne Wells took out Hi-Plains to go to 2-0, while South Baca and Wiley both got 3-1 wins to open their schedules. Stratton went 2-1 in its opening weekend, beating Prairie and Eads, and falling to Haxtun. Merino won the title at the Northeastern Junior College Tournament on Saturday as they won all four matches including an exciting five set win over 2A Dayspring Christian. The Rams are the defending state champions in Class 1A and opened the season ranked #1. Haxtun has been one of the busiest teams in the class, already posting a 4-2 record heading into this week. One of those losses was to Sedgwick County, last week’s #2 team in 2A.
Speaking of 2A, Fowler jumped out the gate with a pair of 3-0 sweeps, beating Swallows Charter and Crowley County last week. The Grizzlies visited John Mall on Tuesday and will travel to Rye on Thursday. Burlington dropped its first two matches in 3-0 sweeps, and Trinidad is off to an 0-3 start, with a tough five-set loss to Del Norte included in their total.
Big things were expected from Lamar in 3A, as the Savages opened last week #3 in the rankings. They improved to 2-0 with a sweep of Centauri last Saturday. Fernanda Merancio (16) and Sydney Dunning (11) combined for 27 kills in that win.
Colorado Preps is providing additional coverage of teams on the Eastern Plains with this weekly feature that will be published each Monday and also appear in several area newspapers throughout the week. Kerry Sherman will provide the weekly reports and please note that Colorado Preps is also developing additional reports for other regions including the Western Slope, San Luis Valley and San Juan regions of the state. The first Western Slope edition is set for release on Tuesday.