Winter sports teams post strong state showing
DOUGLAS COUNTY – Athletes and teams in Douglas County School District (DCSD) have been hot during the cold winter months! This season saw state champions in swimming and wrestling, while boys and girls basketball teams became state finalists. Once again, DCSD sports teams have proven to be a formidable power.
Chaparral boasted a champion at the state wrestling tournament when Senior Dane Drimmer won by decision in the 285 lb. bracket. Drimmer captured his first state wrestling title after qualifying all four years of high school and taking second place last year. Drimmer, who is legally blind and can only see shadows, has been an impressive competitor.
“We have a contact rule in wrestling for kids with disabilities, but Dane never used it,” said Head Coach Rodney Padilla, who has worked with Dane since he was in eighth grade. “He does it all on his own. I never notice the disability.”
Coach Padilla, who has coached the Wolverines for the past 15 years, found himself in the spotlight when he was named Coach of the Year. Padilla says his years of experience have taught him some important strategies.
“I’ve learned to be consistent, but also realize that everyone has their own story. The way I relate to them may be different based on that, and it’s my job to adjust and adapt my coaching to reach all the kids.”
Following Drimmer’s lead, District wrestlers stormed the Pepsi Center posting impressive results:
- 2nd place at 106 lbs.-Hunter Matney, Ponderosa High School
- 2nd place at 160 lbs.-Robert Gambrell, Douglas County High School
- 2nd place at 182 lbs.-Trenton Schultz, Mountain Vista High School
- 2nd place at 195 lbs.-Matthew Stanley, ThunderRidge High School
- 3rd place at 160 lbs.-Tyler Turco, Ponderosa High School
- 5th place at 152 lbs.-Dawson Cranmer, Chaparral High School
- 5th place at 170 lbs.-Tanner Olson, Ponderosa High School
ThunderRidge swimmers made more than a splash at state, emerging with titles in swimming and finishing fifth in the state in team rankings.
The unstoppable Grizzly field was led by Annie Ochitwa, who won both the Women’s 50 Yard Free in 22.86 seconds and the Women’s 100 Yard Free in 49.60 seconds.
“We had a great swim season and a great team,” said Patterson. “Many of our swimmers are going to Division I schools to compete. This entire winter sports season has been great for our school, our staff and our community.”
Bringing home a state title to Rock Canyon, Jaguar Abigail Kochevar claimed the state championship in the Women’s 100 Yard Back in 54.17 seconds.
Patricia Van Law, Mason Dahman, Annie Ochitwa and Elizabeth Kneip placed second in the Women’s 200 Yard Medley Relay and third in the Women’s 100 yard Free Relay.
Patricia Van Law also finished 2nd in the Women’s 100 Yard Back.
ThunderRidge girls and boys basketball teams charged to the state championship games at Coors Event Center in Boulder, and made a lot of noise doing it. After a late-game surge pulled the Grizzlies to a six point deficit, the ThunderRidge boys fell to Overland, 55-42. Seniors Noah Szilagyi and Austin Mueller combined for three 3-pointers in the final quarter to close Overland’s lead to six points, but Overland was almost flawless with 11 for 12 at the free throw line.
“Going into the fourth (quarter), we were down, and just like all season, the guys never quit,” said ThunderRidge Athletic Director Sean Patterson. “It came down to a couple of key fouls and a couple of key turnovers that made the difference.”
The ThunderRidge girls were edged out by Broomfield with a score of 47-42 after a game that featured constant lead changes and a strong first half by the Grizzlies. Junior Taylor Rusk led the team with 16 points and won the battle of the boards with ten rebounds and four steals.
Coach Paula Kreuger could not be more proud of the team’s effort. "It was a fantastic run, with a wonderful group of student athletes. Unfortunately, someone had to lose on Saturday. I asked the kids to leave their heart out on the court and that is exactly what they did."
“It was a great ride for both basketball teams,” added Patterson. “It was nice to see the boys and girls teams feed off each other and support each other at games and at school.”
Mountain Vista, Legend and Chaparral made the Sweet 16 at the boys state tournament, while girls basketball showed equal strength with Highlands Ranch, Castle View and Mountain Vista going to the Sweet 16 in the girls state tournament.
Expectations are high for DCSD teams to come back strong next winter with a lot of young talent returning to competition and challenging for state championships once again. As the spring sports season begins, we see a trend of continuing excellence in DCSD athletic programs with top seeds in lacrosse, tennis, baseball, track and soccer.