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Courtney Oakes

Sports Editor for the Aurora Sentinel, grand stands

Aurora Prep

Boys lacrosse championship games moved from Saturday afternoon to Friday night in upcoming spring

The logjam of championship events at the end of the spring prep sports season should be a little less crowded this upcoming spring.

Per a post on CHSAANow.com, the Colorado High School Activities Association is shifting the Class 4A and 5A state championship games to a Friday night time slot instead of its usual Saturday afternoon schedule to avoid a problem with a college lacrosse tournament at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on May 15, 2015.

Last season, as in years past,  the championship game between Regis Jesuit and Cherry Creek — a dominating 14-7 Raiders’ victory — was played at the same time as the state track meet was contested at Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood and the finals of the 5A boys state swim meet wrapped up at the Veterans’ Memorial Aquatic Center in Thornton. Regis Jesuit athletic fans were spread all over and the 5A Baseball Championship Series also took place the same day.

This spring’s new schedule features the 4A and 5A boys lacrosse championship games on a Friday evening, when it would only be up against the prelims of the boys state swim meet and potentially a late-starting baseball game. The venue remains the same, though the Denver Outlaws won’t play the nightcap game as they have in the past.

Regis Jesuit is loaded with returning players, including a significant number who made the 2014 Aurora Sentinel All-City Boys Lacrosse Team, on its quest to win a second straight 5A state championship.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Aurora Prep

Smoky Hill grad Chase Vaughn begins training camp with Denver Broncos

Chase Vaughn is a long way from Smoky Hill High School.

The former Aurora prep standout with the Buffaloes in the mid-2000s has worked his way all the way up to a shot with the hometown Denver Broncos, who began training camp for the 2014 National Football League season on Thursday.

Vaughn, a 6-foot-1, 242-pound linebacker who starred at Division II Colorado State-Pueblo, signed with Denver in May and is on the 90-man roster that begins training camp.

Previously, Vaughn played in several professional football leagues, including the Arena Football League (with the Spokane Shock), United Football League (with the Las Vegas Locos), Canadian Football League (Calgary Stampeders) and Indoor Football League (Colorado Ice).

Due to construction at the Broncos’ Dove Valley headquarters, fans won’t be able to attend training camp practices as they have in the past, however the team will conduct a workout from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. and parking and admission are free.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Aurora Prep

Big season lands Regis Jesuit 12th in country in CBS MaxPreps Cup rankings

The final numbers prove Regis Jesuit High School’s fantastic 2013-14 athletic season ranked right up among the best in country.

According to the CBS MaxPreps Cup national rankings released on July 22 (and listed below), the Aurora high school — which has a separate Boys Division and Girls Division — had the 12th-most successful athletic program in the country according to a formula that awards points based on championship or runner-up finishes in state and association level. The size of playoff classification, size of state and type of sport (major vs. minor) also was factored into the formula.

Regis Jesuit captured a total of six Class 5A team championships in 2013-14 including 5A titles in boys and girls swimming, boys and girls golf, girls basketball and boys lacrosse. The school’s baseball team finished as the runner-up to Rocky Mountain. The results netted the school 739 points, putting Regis Jesuit just ahead of Westminster (Atlanta) with a 13th-place total of 732 and just behind Rock Bridge (Columbia, Missouri), which came in 11th with 743.

No other Colorado high school appeared in this season’s MaxPreps top 25. Cherry Creek won top honors for Colorado in 2012-13 and finished 23rd in the national rankings.

Bentonville, Ark., was the clear No. 1 program in 2013-14 with a total of eight state championships.

2014 CBS MAXPREPS CUP NATIONAL RANKINGS

1. Bentonville (Ark.), 1,120 2. St. Pius X Catholic (Atlanta), 985 3. Punahou (Honolulu), 980 4. St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), 967 5. Marist (Atlanta), 918 6. American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), 834 7. Carmel (Ind.), 832 8. Deer Creek (Edmond, Okla.), 804 9. The Pingry School (Martinsville, N.J.), 799 10. Wayzata (Plymouth, Minn.), 766 11. Rock Bridge (Columbia, Mo.), 743 12. REGIS JESUIT (AURORA), 739 13. Westminster (Atlanta), 732 14. Cardinal Gibbons (Raleigh, N.C.), 730 15. Webb (Knoxville, Tenn.), 715 16. Tottenville (Staten Island, N.Y.), 710 17. Summit (Bend, Ore.), 702 18. Bozeman (Mont.), 686 19. Madison Central (Miss.), 676 20. Bedford (N.H.), 674 21. Darien (Conn.), 664 22. Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.), 662 23. Mountain Brook (Birmingham, Ala.), 650 24. Montgomery Academy (Ala.), 648 25. La Salle Academy (Providence, R.I.), 642

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Aurora Prep

Regis Jesuit grad Bud Thomas, Mercer win ESPY for Best Upset

Months later, Bud Thomas and the seniors on the Mercer men’s basketball team got to celebrate their greatest triumph again.

The Regis Jesuit High School grad and his teammates pulled off the shocker of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on March 21, as the 14th-seeded Bears knocked off third-seeded Duke 78-71 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C.

Thomas scored just two points against coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils — one of the teams Thomas always followed in the NCAA tournament growing up — but dished out five assists and played strong defensively for Mercer, the Atlantic Sun Conference champion which lost in the next round to Tennessee.

The Mercer seniors were in the crowd in Los Angeles when the award was presented Wednesday night. The Mercer upset topped Connecticut’s victory over Florida in the NCAA men’s basketball national championship game and Chris Weidman’s upset knockout of 10-time UFC champion Anderson Silva.

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning also won two ESPY awards, for Best Record-Breaking Performance as well as Best NFL Player.

2014 ESPY WINNERS

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Winners at the 2014 ESPY Awards presented Wednesday:

Best Breakthrough Athlete: Richard Sherman; Best Moment: U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team; Best Game: Iron Bowl; Best Record-Breaking Performance: Peyton Manning; Best Play: Chris Davis; Best Female Athlete: Ronda Rousey; Best Male Athlete: Kevin Durant; Best Team: Seattle Seahawks; Best Upset: MERCER; Best Female Action Sports Athlete: Jamie Anderson; Best Male Action Sports Athlete: Nyjah Houston; Best Female Athlete with a Disability: Jamie Whitmore; Best Male Athlete with a Disability: Declan Farmer; Best Female College Athlete: Breanna Stewart; Best Male College Athlete: Doug McDermott; Best Coach/Manager: Gregg Popovich; Best MLS Player: Tim Cahill; Best NBA Player: Kevin Durant; Best NFL Player: Peyton Manning; Best NHL Player: Sidney Crosby; Best MLB Player: Miguel Cabrera; Best WNBA Player: Maya Moore; Best Female US Olympian: Jamie Anderson; Best Male US Olympian: Sage Kotsenburg; Championship Performance: Kawhi Leonard; Best Bowler: Pete Weber; Best Female Tennis Player: Maria Sharapova; Best Male Tennis Player: Rafael Nadal; Best Comeback Athlete: Russell Westbrook; Best Female Golfer: Michelle Wie; Best Male Golfer: Bubba Watson; Best International Athlete: Cristiano Ronaldo; Best Fighter: Floyd Mayweather; Best Driver: Ryan Hunter-Reay; Best Jockey: Victor Espinoza

SPECIAL AWARDS

Jimmy V Perseverance Award: Stuart Scott; Arthur Ashe Courage Award: Michael Sam; Pat Tillman Award For Service: Josh Sweeney

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Former foes Sparks, Zimmerman hold court together at Western Nebraska C.C. Aurora Prep

Former foes Sparks, Zimmerman hold court together at Western Nebraska C.C.

Hannah Sparks has the talent to jump far, but she’d rather jump higher.

The recent graduate of Aurora’s Cherokee Trail High School passed on a number of scholarship offers to compete in track — where she was a talented long and triple jumper and relay runner — to pursue her love of basketball.

According to her father, Andre, Sparks — a first team All-Centennial League and second team Aurora Sentinel All-City selection for the 2013-14 season — is headed to Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The 5-foot-7 point guard signed her national athletic letter of intent for a full ride basketball scholarship in April, but wasn’t part of Cherokee Trail’s larger signing ceremony.

In three varsity seasons at Cherokee Trail, Sparks averaged 12.7 points, 3.0 assists and 2.6 steals per game. She posted career bests in all three categories as a senior when she led the Cougars (11-14) in scoring at 15.0 ppg, assists at 3.4 apg and steals at 3.2 spg.

At Western Nebraska, Sparks is set to join up with another Aurora standout — Smoky Hill grad Brooke Zimmerman — as a teammate and roommate. Aside from going against each other in Centennial League play twice a season, the two play together with the Aurora-based Colorado Lady Swoosh club team.

Western Nebraska has a successful tradition, featuring 26 straight seasons of 20-plus victories and a tally of 77 players who have moved on to play at four-year schools. The Cougars added four Colorado players to the roster in Sparks, Zimmerman, Abriana Lujan of Highlands Ranch and Doherty’s Angela Vigil.

Sparks could stay at Western Nebraska for one season or two as larger schools track her progress and consider offering her a scholarship.

A number of other Lady Swoosh basketball players are headed to play collegiately, including Cherokee Trail grad Lily Hartley (Western State) and Eaglecrest grad Jamie Stoner (Nebraska Wesleyan).

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Aurora Prep

Aurora holes-in-one, June & July

Congratulations to some local golfers who have recorded recent holes-in-one on Aurora golf courses. To report holes-in-one, have courses send faxes to 720-324-4965 or email sports@aurorasentinel.com:

MAY

May 19: Dottie Biggs, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 9, 95 yards. Witnesses: Lala Bomholt, Judy Peters.

May 27: Alyssa Nance, Springhill G.C., No. 17, 120 yards. Witnesses: D.J. Fuller, Cornell Heaps.

JUNE

June 4: Jason Allen, Aurora Hills G.C., No. 7, 195 yards, 5 iron. Witnesses: Brian Howley, Sarah Boggie, Robert Lee.

June 8: Deon Williams, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 9, 136 yards, pitching wedge. Witness: Keith Vaughan.

June 10: John Thomas, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 5, 104 yards. Witnesses: Gregory Curry, Ron Henry, Larry Coles.

June 12: Gail Kloppel, Saddle Rock G.C., No. 5, 109 yards, 7 wood. Witness: Rita Bartels.

June 12: Brandon Stepter, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 5, 85 yards, 60 degree wedge. Witness: R. Rishmanehi.

June 12: Grant Wolfe, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 9, 124 yards, 9 iron. Witnesses: Jackson Lamb, Robert Seaman.

June 20: Don Keeley, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 5, yardage UA, lob wedge. Witnesses: Carla Stonbreaker, Kendra Schurich, Merl Steel

June 21: Cliff Schopf, Murphy Creek G.C., No. 5, 153 yards, 6 iron. Witnesses: Todd Smith, Daryl Fengler, Dean Kirsch.

June 25: Kent Wilmes, Aurora Hills G.C., No. 13, 178 yards, 8 iron. Witnesses: Jim Damon, Bryan Hogan.

JULY

 July 7: Jon Dialk, Saddle Rock G.C., No. 14, 169 yards, 7 iron. Witnesses: Willy O, Turk, BC.

July 12: Peter Brandner, Murphy Creek G.C., No. 5, 138 yards, 9 iron. Witnesses: Matthew Berry, Kathy Freibarghaus, Rob Vogt.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

R.J. Demps Memorial 3-on-3 hoops tournament shifted to October Aurora Prep

R.J. Demps Memorial 3-on-3 hoops tournament shifted to October

The annual R.J. Demps Memorial 3-on-3 basketball tournament has moved to Oct. 4.

The 3-year-old tournament commemorating the life of late Regis Jesuit High School boys basketball player R.J. Demps had been scheduled for July 5, but Will Cobb — Demps’ former teammate and one of the tournament organizers — said the hope was shifting the date to during the school year and holding it on the weekend of Regis Jesuit’s alumni homecoming could generate more teams participating.

Entry fee is $100 for teams looking to enter any of five categories: youth, high school recreational and high school competitive, adult recreational and adult competitive. Proceeds raised go towards the RJ Demps ’09 Memorial Scholarship.

Visit the tournament page here, to register. Play begins promptly at 9 a.m. Oct. 4.

One of two senior starters on the Regis Jesuit team that won the Class 5A boys state basketball championship in the 2008-09 season, the well-liked Demps helped launched what turned out to be a three-peat for the Raiders and coach Ken Shaw, who Demps followed to Regis Jesuit from Smoky Hill.

On Dec. 21, 2011, midway through his sophomore year at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., the 20-year-old Demps and a teammate were in a one-car crash on MO Highway 45 near Weston.

Demps was killed in the accident police believe was caused by slick roads, while his teammate survived. The pair were on their way to the Kansas City International Airport to return home for the Christmas holiday. Three days later, Demps’ family, friends and former teammates packed the Regis Jesuit gymnasium to remember him and the basketball team room was renamed in his honor.

The team room in the Regis Jesuit Boys Division gym was renamed in Demps’ honor and his jerseys hang both outside and inside the room.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Aurora Prep

Regis Jesuit grad Bud Thomas, Mercer hoping for ESPY award for upset of Duke

Regis Jesuit High School grad Bud Thomas and his Mercer University teammates got their One Shining Moment with their upset of Duke in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and they looking for just a little bit more time in the spotlight because of it.

Thomas was one of five senior starters for the Bears, a No. 14 seed that knocked off third-seeded Duke — one of the most tradition-laden programs in college basketball — 78-71 on March 21 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. Mercer, the Atlantic Sun Conference champion, became the 18th team all-time as a No. 14 to knock off a No. 3 and it put them in the running for the award for an ESPY award for Best Upset of 2014.

The annual ESPYs award show is scheduled for July 16 in Los Angeles and Thomas, his fellow seniors and coach Bob Hoffman plan to be there to see if they can top the two other candidates in the Best Upset category: Connecticut’s victory over Florida in the NCAA men’s basketball national championship game and Chris Weidman’s upset knockout of 10-time UFC champion Anderson Silva.

Fans can vote online for a variety of ESPY awards until July 16. To vote for Thomas and Mercer, click here and find the Best Upset category.

— Courtney Oakes, Sports Editor

Aurora Prep

Eaglecrest looking for nominations to christen new Athletics & Activities Hall of Fame

Now just shy of 25 years old, Eaglecrest High School is looking to celebrate its big anniversary by honoring some of its best and brightest from the past.

Starting on June 1, the school began to take nominations from the public for the inaugural induction class for the Eaglecrest Athletics & Activities Hall of Fame, which debuts during the 2014-15 school year that begins in August.

Candidates must have graduated from the school at least five years ago, earned all-state or other accolades in their respective sports or activities and “be of high moral character, outstanding citizenship and the ideals embodied in the mission of Eaglecrest High School that includes the building of character, promoting cooperation and achieving excellence.”

Coaches, administrators and volunteers connected with the school are also eligible for nomination and consideration.

The selection committee includes a number of current Eaglecrest personnel, representation from school parents and the community and one media member, Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor Courtney Oakes.

Click here or find the EHS Hall of Fame tab on the Eaglecrest Activities & Athletics home page to download the nomination form and email completed form to athletic director Vince Orlando at vorlando@cherrycreekschools.org by Sept. 1.

Those selected to be in the first class will be notified and honored during a weekend of events in December.

Eaglecrest High School opened in 1990 and owns five Class 5A state championships: Football (1993), Boys Track & Field (2002), Softball (2005), Volleyball (2006) and most recently, Boys Basketball (2013) and also dominated the state in cheer under current principal Gwen Hansen-Vigil in the mid-1990s and early 2000s.

— Courtney Oakes, Sports Editor

Grandview grad Kevin Gausman earns first Major League win as a starting pitcher Aurora Prep

Grandview grad Kevin Gausman earns first Major League win as a starting pitcher

Grandview High School graduate Kevin Gausman picked up his long-awaited first victory as a starting pitcher in Major League Baseball Saturday night.

Called up earlier in the day from Triple-A Norfolk, the hard-throwing righthander struck out six batters in a career-high seven innings to help the Baltimore Orioles post a 6-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics at Camden Yards.

In his second start of the 2014 season, the 23-year-old Gausman allowed four hits and one run and walked one batter to earn the victory in his seventh career start spanning two seasons. He lasted just four innings in his first start of the year on May 14, as the Detroit Tigers reached him for five runs on six hits.

“It’s always huge when you get a win, especially against a team like the A’s,” Gausman told the Associated Press after the game. “They’re playing great baseball right now. It’s been a fun series to watch so far. Hopefully, we can win the series tomorrow.”

Gausman — the No. 4 overall selection in the 2012 draft and signed a $4.32 million contract — improved his career record to 4-6 overall, as his three previous big league victories came in relief stints in 2013.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter had high praise for Gausman, who reportedly topped out at 99 mph on the radar gun.

“Kevin was good, really good,” Showalter said. “Got his feet on the ground. I thought Caleb (catcher Joseph) and him worked real well together. I wanted Caleb catching him today. He had caught him, obviously, in Norfolk.

“Good split, got enough breaking balls over to show a third pitch, established the inner half of the plate. He’s got pretty good stuff. He got in a couple situations and went and got another level, which was good to see.”

Gausman went 5-3 with a 4.41 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings as a senior for Grandview, then was selected in the sixth round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Unable to agree to a suitable contract with the Dodgers, Gausman went on to play at Louisiana State and drastically improved his draft stock when he went 12-2 with a 2.77 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 123 2/3 innings as a sophomore.

— Courtney Oakes, Sports Editor