Courtney Oaks
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Courtney Oakes

SPORTS EDITOR FOR THE AURORA SENTINEL, GRAND STANDS — sports@AuroraSentinel.com @aurorasports on Twitter


The fourth class of the Eaglecrest Athletics and Activities Hall of Fame is set to be inducted Nov. 16 as the school continues the recent tradition of honoring some of its past best and brightest.

EAGLECREST HIGH SCHOOL

As selected from a pool of nominees by a panel of school administrators, representatives of the Cherry Creek School District, the community and the media, the Class of 2017 includes four athletes: Sola Abolaji (boys soccer), Jasper Armstrong (football), Nick Harper (boys lacrosse) and Courtney Karst (volleyball).

Those eligible for the Athletic and Activities Hall of Fame must be graduated from Eaglecrest for at least five years and be nominated by a member of the community.

Tickets for the induction event at Heritage Eagle Bend, which includes a cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m., can be purchased through the Eaglecrest Athletic Department at 720-886-1083. Cost is $25 per ticket.

A brief bio of the four inductees, listed alphabetically, in the fourth class:

Sola Abolaji, boys soccer (Class of 2003)

Abolaji is the first boys soccer player selected for the Hall of Fame and he had quite an impact on the pitch in his time at Eaglecrest. A four-year varsity letterwinner, he was the program’s first all-state player and also served as a team captain. Abolaji generated plenty of Division I interest, but went to junior college instead out of Eaglecrest and later ended up at the University of Buffalo, where he was the Bulls’ defensive most valuable player as a senior. The Carolina RailHawks used the first pick in the United Soccer League-1 draft on Abolaji, which launched a decade-long professional career in a variety of leagues in the U.S. and abroad. Abolaji currently is a defender for Orange County SC of the USL.

Jasper Armstrong, football (Class of 1996)

Football has a long, strong tradition at Eaglecrest dating back to the early days of the school’s history and Armstrong was one of the key figures at the start. He was a difference maker on the defensive side of the football as a lineman and led Colorado in sacks as a sophomore in 1993, when he was an all-state selection and helped Eaglecrest win the lone state football championship in school history. Armstrong had a three-year run as a first team all-conference and all-state defensive end and remains the program’s career leader in sacks. He went on to play collegiately at both Colorado State and Northern Colorado. Armstrong has since worked in the Cherry Creek School District in a variety of capacities. He is an author and made a run as a candidate for an at-large seat on the Aurora Public Schools Board of Education in 2013.

Nick Harper, boys lacrosse (Class of 2000)

Courtney Karst played four varsity volleyball seasons at Eaglecrest and helped the Raptors reach the Class 5A state final twice. (Aurora Sentinel file photo)

Harper put boys lacrosse on the map at Eaglecrest and remains the program’s most decorated player of all-time. A two-time team captain, he was a three-time all-state selection and sits atop the Raptors’ record books in career goals, career points, single season goals, single season points, single game goals and single game points. Harper parlayed his success into a chance to play at Colorado State University, where he scored more than 200 career points and earned two All-American nods. He was elected into the Colorado State University Lacrosse Alumni Association Hall of Fame in 2013. Harper owns a business that raises money for education and non-profits and is now back in the metro area.

Courtney Karst, volleyball (Class of 2008)

Volleyball has become a staple sport at Eaglecrest and Karst is one of the big reasons why, as she was a central force on the team that went undefeated and won the Class 5A state championship in 2006. As a middle blocker, Karst absolutely dominated at the net in her four years on the varsity, an 89-10 run which saw her earn a slew of first team all-conference selections in the rugged Centennial League and make two appearances on the all-state first team as well. The school record for kills still belongs to Karst, who was the MVP of the Raptors’ championship run as a junior in 2006 when they beat rival Grandview and also led Eaglecrest back to the finals as a senior. Karst went on to play four years of Division I volleyball at the University of Arizona, where she earned All-Pac 12 honorable mention honors as a senior and then dabbled with a professional career. Karst — who joins former teammate Kristen Schevikhoven in the Hall of Fame — returned to Eaglecrest as an assistant coach on the staff of her former coach, Tanya Bond.

A jersey and picture adorn a table at a memorial service honoring the late Curtis Cotton on May 29, 2010, at Rangeview High School. Cotton, a high-scoring guard on the school’s basketball team between 2000 and 2004, died on May 7, 2010, in a car crash. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

Local basketball players have another chance to honor the memory of former Rangeview boys basketball star Curtis Cotton at the sixth annual Curtis Cotton Memorial 3v3 Hoops Tournament, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 26, at Rangeview High School.

Raiders coach Shawn Palmer is accepting applications for boys and girls three- or four-player teams of players between the ages of 9 and 21 until Wednesday.

The cost to register a team is $40 until 5 p.m. Monday, then $50 until 5 p.m. Wednesday, with all proceeds going towards the Curtis Cotton Memorial Fund that contributes to multiple organizations that help Aurora youth. To register or for more details, contact Kimerly.Cotton@gmail.com or Palmer at 303-326-3064. Registration form below as well and can be dropped off at Rangeview High School, 17599 E. Iliff Ave., Aurora, 80013.

Palmer said eight high school teams are currently signed up and he hopes to have 20 by the time of the tournament. They are definitely in need of youth teams.

Curtis Cotton Jr. — aka “Chilli” — was a 2004 Rangeview graduate who died on May 7, 2010, at the age of 23 from injuries suffered in a single-car accident on I-225.

In 2004, Rangeview put out its list of top 30 boys basketball players of all-time — a list put together by the only two head boys basketball coach in school history, Palmer and his predecessor Terry Taylor Sr. — which included Cotton Jr., an explosive 6-foot-3 guard, who ranks fourth on Rangeview’s all-time scoring list with 1,036 points scored between 2000-04.

He averaged 25.2 points per game for the Raiders as a senior in the 2003-04 season, in which he made the starting five of the Aurora Sentinel’s All-City Boys Basketball Team and also played in The Show All-Star Game at Pepsi Center as part of the top 20 players in the state.

Cotton Jr. went on to play two years at Western Nebraska and one at New Mexico Highlands. He had been accepted into Johnson & Wales University in Denver.

Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Grandview baseball players Kevin Gausman (left), pitcher, and Greg Bird, catcher, pose during practice March 9 at Grandview High School. (Heather A. Longway/ The Aurora Sentinel)
Barring injury, the former Grandview High School battery of pitcher Kevin Gausman, left, and catcher-turned-infielder Greg Bird both will be in the starting lineups for Major League Baseball teams for Opening Day of the 2017 season. Gausman draws the Opening Day start for the Baltimore Orioles, while Bird will opening the season as the everyday first baseman for the New York Yankees. (Aurora Sentinel file photo)

When they played together on the Grandview baseball team, the future looked pretty bright for Kevin Gausman and Greg Bird.

Their success, however, has become absolutely blinding.

With the look and demeanor of future Major League Baseball players while they were still in high school, Gausman and Bird not only have reached the next level, but have gained strong footing at the professional level. Barring injury, the outstanding former battery for the Wolves both will have places in the starting lineups of their respective teams — the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees — on the upcoming opening day of the Major League Baseball season.

New York Yankees' Greg Bird bats against the Philadelphia Phillies in a spring training baseball game, Wednesday, March 22, 2017, in Clearwater, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Grandview High School graduate Greg Bird has slugged seven home runs in spring training for the New York Yankees and has been tabbed as the starting first baseman. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Former Colorado prep players have certainly made an impact in MLB in years past, but Gausman and Bird have been breaking new ground for the state over the past few years with their rapid rises in the big leagues.

“I always thought Colorado baseball was kind of behind, so it’s kind of cool how it’s catching up,” Bird told the Sentinel in January when he returned to Grandview to serve as an honorary coach for the school’s popular Unified basketball team.

“The more people I talk to, kids are going to places to play and there are more kids from Colorado who are at the higher levels of baseball, so it’s great for the state,” he added. “I get to play with Headley (Chase, a Fountain-Fort Carson High School graduate), so he’s been great for me. It’s really about trying to help out Colorado as a whole. I feel like it has had a little bit of a reputation to not be as good, but it’s nice to see it’s being recognized now.”

That recognition for the state grows even greater with each accomplishment of the Grandview duo.

On Monday, Baltimore manager Buck Showalter tabbed the 26-year-old Gausman as the the team’s Opening Day starter for its April 3 contest against the Toronto Blue Jays at Camden Yards.

Just a few short years ago, Gausman was throwing gas for coach Dean Adams’ Grandview baseball team, as he went 5-3 with a 4.41 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings as a senior in 2010. He was drafted in the sixth round of the MLB draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but opted to pitch at Louisiana State, where he had a short, but stellar career.

FILE - In this March 7, 2017, file photo, Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Kevin Gausman warms up during the first inning of an exhibition baseball game against the Dominican Republic, in Sarasota, Fla. The Orioles will have a new starter for their April 3 opener for the first time in the last four years. Manager Buck Showalter said Monday, March 27, 2017, that right-hander Kevin Gausman will start against Toronto. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
Former Grandview ace Kevin Gausman has been named the Opening Day starter for the Baltimore Orioles. The hard-throwing 26-year-old will get the ball for the Orioles’ home game against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 3 manager Buck Showalter announced Monday. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File)

Two years later, Baltimore made him the No. 4 overall selection in the 2012 draft and he’s gone on to pitch in 95 games — 72 starts — and has a record of 23-31 with a 3.97 ERA and 414 strikeouts in 453 innings. With ace Chris Tillman injured at the start of the season, Showalter opted for Gausman, who was 9-12 with a 3.61 ERA and 174 strikeouts a year ago.

In spring training, Gausman has yielded just two earned runs in 10 innings with 13 strikeouts against two walks.

Bird made a triumphant debut in the 2015 season with the Yankees, as he played in 46 games after a late-season call-up and posted a .261 average with 11 home runs and 31 RBI.

The sweet-swinging left-handed hitter — a former catcher at Grandview who was converted to first base in the New York organization, which drafted and signed him out of high school — missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, but has regained his form after significant offseason work.

Bird has lit up spring training pitching for a .447 batting average with seven home runs and 13 RBI in 20 games. On the day the 24-year-old slugger got official word from Yankees manager Joe Girardi that he’d be the starting first baseman, he slugged two two home runs and drove in five runs in a spring training win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

“He’s been really good,” Girardi told the New York Daily News about Bird last week. “Maybe better than what I expected knowing that he sat out a year and you worry about guy’s timing. It hasn’t seemed to affect him.”

The former Grandview stars will see each other plenty as the Orioles and Yankees play several times this season, starting with a series April 7-9 in Baltimore.

San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Ty Blach throw against the San Diego Padres during the third inning of a spring training baseball game, Tuesday, March 21, 2017, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Regis Jesuit graduate Ty Blach has pitched the most innings for the San Francisco Giants during spring training and is bidding for a spot in the team’s starting rotation or bullpen. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Regis Jesuit graduate Ty Blach could also be on an MLB roster to start the season.

The left-handed pitcher is bidding to become the fifth starter or a long reliever for the San Francisco Giants.

Blach — who pitched in college at Creighton — has led the Giants in spring training with 20 1/3 innings pitched and has a 1-1 record with 4.43 ERA. He pitched in four games for San Francisco last season, including a scoreless three-inning stint against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in his MLB debut, and finished 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA.

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The Aurora Central volleyball team is offering a free Thanksgiving meal to 250 members of the community on Nov. 22 at the school. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

The Aurora Central volleyball team served up some success on the court this fall — with a 10-13 record — but the Trojans will be serving something more important on Nov. 22: their community.

In a holiday time where there is much need around the area, coach Barry Lago and his Aurora Central team is putting on a free Thanksgiving dinner for 250 members of the Aurora community at 6 p.m. at Aurora Central High School.

The Trojans ask that those interested in attending call the team’s hotline at 303-326-2591 to leave their name, phone number and the number of people they would like to bring to the dinner.

The team will make return phone calls for confirmation until the 250-person limit is reached.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Six of the most significant athletes, coaches contributors to theater and the arts and volunteers from Eaglecrest’s 27-year history make up the third induction class into the school’s Athletics and Activities Hall of Fame.

EAGLECRESTAs selected by a pool of nominees by a panel of school administrators, representatives of Cherry Creek School District, the community and the media, Aubrey Mable (softball/golf/basketball), John Green (coach/athletic director), Zak Edwards (performing arts), Doug Moreland (volunteer), Kevin Yu (tennis) and Jennifer Condreay (teacher/theater director) are set to be inducted on Nov. 16, 2016, at Heritage Eagle Bend.

Those eligible for the Athletic and Activities Hall of Fame must be graduated from Eaglecrest for at least five years and be nominated by a member of the community.

Tickets for the induction event, which includes a cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m., can be purchased through the Eaglecrest Athletic Department at 720-886-1083. Cost is $25 per ticket.

A brief bio of the six inductees, list alphabetically, in the third class:

Jennifer Condreay, teacher/theater director, 1990-2006

Condreay is the architect of Eaglecrest’s outstanding performance department and was there to lay the foundation when the school opened its doors. The University of Denver graduate worked for 16 years at Eaglecrest and returned briefly in 2015 when needed. Condreay directed 22 musicals in her time at the school and the program’s production of “Chess” in 1998 was selected to appear on the Thespian Main Stage in Lincoln, Nebraska. She has won Colorado Theatre Educator of the Year and helped put several of Eaglecrest’s most esteemed performing arts graduates on the track to professional careers. Outside of the school, she developed an exchange program with a high school in Paris and also designed Broadway show tours for School Tours of America.

Zak Edwards, performing arts, Class of 2002

Edwards is another successful professional performer who made a big impact on the arts community at Eaglecrest before his graduation in 2002. Edwards participated in all performing arts at the school, serving as the lead in a variety of musicals while also singing in the choir and participating in the dance program. He was on the Student Council and was dubbed the Outstanding Senior for his class before going on to the University of Oklahoma. He graduated from OU near the top of his class and earned the F. Donald Clark Award for Excellence, an award given to one student in the College of Fine Arts every year based on academic and artistic achievement. Edwards currently performs in New York in Off-Broadway productions.

John Green, coach/athletic director, 1990-2003

As an original staff member, Green served a wide variety of roles at Eaglecrest, ranging from stints as the head football coach (1990-92) to head track coach (1990-2003), as well as athletic director (1996-2003), where he helped put into place the foundations of some of the school’s most successful programs. Green continued to be active in the Cherry Creek School District for a long time and is still active in the Colorado High School Coaches Association and USA Track & Field.

Bryant's Aubrey Mable
Aubrey Mable

Aubrey Mable, softball/golf/basketball, Class of 2010

Mable was a three-sport standout at Eaglecrest — in softball, golf and basketball — and a formative member of the school community in the classroom and hallways as well. On the softball diamond, Mable made the All-Centennial League first team and Aurora Sentinel All-City first team in all four of her varsity season and garnered All-Colorado and All-State first team honors in 2009. She hit .500 or better in each of her last two seasons. Mable qualified for the Class 5A girls state golf tournament for three seasons and served as the team captain as a junior and senior and she won a varsity letter with the girls basketball team in four seasons. She received the prestigious Kurby Lyle Award as the Cherry Creek School District’s top all-around athlete/scholar in 2010, won a variety of other awards athletically and served as Student Body President as a senior before heading off to Bryant University.

Doug Moreland, volunteer

Moreland’s sister, Jennifer, was a staff member and head varsity softball coach when Eaglecrest opened, but died for cancer in 1992. Doug Moreland set up a scholarship in his sister’s honor that has benefited selected students — who demonstrated the resolve of Jennifer Moreland — for more than two decades at the school. Moreland has been a strong and encouraging presence to many Eaglecrest athletes and students over the years.

Kevin Yu, boys tennis, Class of 1999

Boys tennis at Eaglecrest has struggled in recent years, but Yu helped the program reach its pinnacle in the late 1990s, as he played four years of varsity tennis (1995-98) and made the Class 5A state tennis tournament in each of those seasons. He won regional championships as a junior and senior, made the 5A state quarterfinals in 1997 and made the 5A semifinals at No. 1 singles in 1998. The Raptors posted three top-seven finishes as a team at the 5A state tournament with Yu leading the way. He went on to play collegiate tennis.

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After urging from the Regis Jesuit crowd, Neil Devlin lines up for a half court short during a boys basketball game between Regis Jesuit at Denver East on Jan. 20, 2015, at Regis Jesuit High School. Devlin airballed the shot, but he scored a ton of points with Colorado prep athletes, coaches, administrators and others during 36 years of work as prep sports editor at the Denver Post. (File photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

People will probably pose for selfies with Neil Devlin until the end of time, but unfortunately they won’t be able to read his stories in the Denver Post anymore.

On Thursday night, the longtime prep sports editor announced his departure from the Post after 36 years as he and veteran scribe Irv Moss — who has been there since 1956 — accepted buyouts as part of the latest round of casualties of an ownership group that has gutted much of what was once a juggernaut of a newspaper.

I still know a handful of incredible writers, editors, web people and photographers at the Post who continue to shine, but the number continues to dwindle and my stomach hurts for each and every one of them each time the news of more impending cuts comes down. While anybody who has worked in newspapers for 36 years has the end of a career in sight, I never would have dreamed it would end like this for Neil.

As a budding sports writer with the Spotlight — Denver East High School’s student newspaper — in the 1990s, I vividly remember reading Neil’s game stories and Sunday columns religiously after I snatched the sports section of the Postwhich used to be massive — while my parents read the rest of the paper. Sometimes Neil covered the Angels at a game I went to and I matched his take with mine. It was also hard to ignore the long hair that made him so unique.

It was just five or six years after that when I first covered a game with Neil, though I don’t remember our first encounter. Since then, I can’t begin to count how many times  I covered games with him on the sidelines, in a gym or behind a backstop and took pride in becoming one of his peers (and actually knowing why he always uses Yo! in texts, tweets and emails).

The last game we covered together was a month ago when Cherokee Trail won the Class 5A state baseball championship and Neil watched the proceedings from the top of the bleachers at All-City Field wearing a classic Star Trek T-shirt and shades (the lingering byproduct of his questioning of the powers that be who resided in the press box). It was another memory of many laugh-filled encounters and times I watched kids ask to take pictures with Neil, hold up cutouts of his face at games or encourage him to take a half court shot like he did many times with good humility at Regis Jesuit.

Is it possible for somebody to know everybody at a prep game? Chances are Neil did. He’d hug table workers, give a nod to just about every referee and have a chat with just about anybody who approached him like he knew them forever.

The admiration for Neil shone through in the reaction to his announcement on Twitter. A large number of his 8,056 followers — which gives him a commanding lead over me, as he continually has reminded me this season, ha! — reached out to support him and share memories. I strongly encourage you to check out his heartfelt string of tweets (@neildevlin) about his time with the paper.

The best part about Neil is as much as he covered Denver and the entire state, his heart was and still is clearly in Aurora. In the 1980s, Neil’s brother, John, was the standard by which all Aurora Sentinel sportswriters should ever be measured and Neil always had a soft spot for Aurora squads and athletes, especially during this past boys basketball season.

The tougher part is losing the voice of another person who was so dedicated to celebrating community accomplishments and shining light on the best and brightest in a time with so much turmoil. I urge everyone to continue to consume and care about local news and those who dedicate themselves to trying to tell you stories. It’s something we can’t afford to lose.

So to keep it short, Neil, enjoy a Guinness or two, indulge at Fontana Sushi, play 18 holes (and shoot under 80 again) and know how appreciated you have been and still are. I have no doubts you’ll be back at it in some capacity before we know it.

And hopefully I’ll see you around and maybe get my picture with you for the first time!

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

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Alijah Halliburton (21) made the All-Centennial League first team in both football and basketball during the 2015-16 athletic season, credentials that helped him receive the male Kurby Lyle Award for the year. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

AURORA | Overland’s Alijah Halliburton and Smoky Hill’s Rachel Whipple both earned the highest distinction possible for a prep athlete in the Cherry Creek School District, as they were awarded the Kurby Lyle Award for 2015-16.

The award — named after former CCSD athletic director and Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Famer Kurby Lyle — has been given annually to a male and female prep athlete in the district (as selected by district athletic directors) since 1998.

Halliburton and Whipple were surprised with the honor at the senior awards ceremony at their respective schools in May. Both had significant qualifications on and off the playing field.

The multi-talented Halliburton starred in both football and basketball at Overland and earned All-Centennial League first team honors in both sports as a senior to cap a fantastic prep career that surprised even him.

In the fall, the 6-foot-2, 170-pound University of Wyoming-bound safety racked up 125 tackles (86 solo) as a safety for the Trailblazers and just represented his school in the Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State football game.

In the winter, Halliburton was a key piece in Overland’s second straight Class 5A boys basketball state championship and also earned his way into the inaugural A-Town All-Stars Game.

After he committed to Wyoming in December, Halliburton told the Sentinel he hopes to study graphics and animation 3D and minor in business and finance.

He was unaware of the Kurby Lyle Award before he won it and Overland athletic director Stephen DeSchryver sprung his selection on him at the awards ceremony.

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Smoky Hill’s Rachel Whipple, winner of the female Kurby Lyle Award for 2015-16, signed to play volleyball with the University of Colorado in April. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

“I was just really shocked that I won the award and just to be named the best multi-sport athlete in the Cherry Creek School District is very honoring to me,” Halliburton told the Sentinel. “There’s a lot of great athletes that have accomplished so much and just to think I could win this is crazy.”

Whipple’s primary sport is volleyball and she signed to play Division I at the University of Colorado in April. The two-time All-Centennial League first teamer originally committed to Virginia Commonwealth before a coaching change in Boulder made it possible for her to play there.

She also competed with Smoky Hill’s varsity girls swim team in the winter season and worked with the school’s Unified basketball team.

Whipple also had no idea that she would be receiving the Kurby Lyle award, but was humbled to be chosen.

“To be selected by the athletic directors of each school is very honoring,” she told the Sentinel. “It definitely was a great way to end my high school sports career.”

To be eligible for the Kurby Lyle Award, athletes must have: earned varsity letters in at least two sports during his/her senior year and graduate from a CCSD high school, attend CCSD his/her entire high school career, be accepted to an accredited college or university and plan to compete in athletics in college, plus express and show maturity of purpose and have unquestionable integrity.

The award honors the late Lyle, who spent 12 years as a basketball coach at Cherry Creek High School, which has its main gymnasium bearing his name. Lyle went on to be the district athletic director for CCSD and he was also one of the founders of the Colorado Athletic Directors Association (CADA) and was inducted into CHSAA’s Hall of Fame in 1994.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Eaglecrest's Colbey Ross is on the Team East roster for the A-Town All-Stars Game on March 26 at Aurora Central High School. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)
Eaglecrest senior-to-be Colbey Ross, the 2015-16 Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year, is part of a large contingent of returning players from the 5A state runner-up Raptors set to play in the C3 Challenge — scheduled for June 14-16 at Heritage and Rock Canyon high schools — according to coach John Olander. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

With a significant makeover, the C3 Challenge — formerly the Centennial-Continental Challenge — boys basketball tournament gets underway June 14 and runs through June 16.

Formatted the past two years to pit the full compliment of teams from the Centennial and Continental leagues against each other in summer play, the new-look tournament now includes a variety of quality teams from around the metro area plus visitors from Fort Collins (Fort Collins), Colorado Springs (Doherty and Rampart) and Grand Junction (Grand Junction Central).

Smoky Hill's Kenny Foster is on the Team East roster for the A-Town All-Stars Game on March 26 at Aurora Central High School. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)
Smoky Hill sophomore-to-be Kenny Foster will be one of the top boys basketball talents on display at the 2016 C3 Challenge tournament June 14-16, 2016, at Heritage & Rock Canyon high schools. The Buffaloes will be missing a few regular players, but coach Anthony Hardin expects them to be competitive in the 24-team tournament. (Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel)

Heritage coach Jentry Byleveld, the originator of the tournament, added the other teams to increase the already quality level of the tournament, which features the two Aurora teams who met for last season’s Class 5A state championship — Overland and Eaglecrest — and a slew of other talented teams. Byleveld plans to rotate invitations to other teams based on how strong they are expected to be in the season ahead.

“This allows the tournament to have different Colorado teams each year and makes the tournament the most competitive in the state,” Byleveld said.

The 24-team tournament has a new format — two days of pool play, followed by a 1-day tournament on June 16 based on the results — and has added a new venue, as Rock Canyon High School will play host to eight games per day, while the majority of the tournament will still take place at Heritage. Every team will play two games per day.

Aurora teams in the field include the Trailblazers and Raptors (the only city team that will play at Rock Canyon), plus Cherokee Trail, Grandview, Regis Jesuit and Smoky Hill.

Some won’t have the full compliment of players or coaches they’ll have in the upcoming winter season, but plenty of talent should be on display, including 2015-16 Gatorade Colorado Player of the Year Colbey Ross and Smoky Hill sophomore star Kenny Foster among others.

The other newcomers to the tournament are Chatfield, Monarch (now led by former Vista PEAK coach Josh Brenning) and Valor Christian.

A 10-player all-tournament team will be selected when play is completed.

Admission is $5 for a three-day pass or $2 per day, while kids under 6 years old are free.

C3 CHALLENGE BOYS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT

June 14-16 at Heritage & Rock Canyon high schools

GROUP A: Chaparral, Fort Collins, Heritage, Lakewood, Mountain Vista, Mullen, OVERLAND, ThunderRidge; GROUP B: Arapahoe, Chatfied, CHEROKEE TRAIL, GRANDVIEW, Legend, Monarch, REGIS JESUIT, SMOKY HILL; GROUP C: Castle View, Cherry Creek, Doherty, EAGLECREST, Grand Junction Central, Rampart, Valor Christian

At Heritage High School

DAY 1 (June 14)

8-9 a.m.: Mullen vs. ThunderRidge (Main Gym), Heritage vs. OVERLAND (Aux. Gym); 9-10 a.m.: Heritage vs. Mullen (Main Gym); ThunderRidge vs. OVERLAND (Aux. Gym); 10-11 a.m.: Chaparral vs. Lakewood (Main Gym); Mountain Vista vs. Fort Collins (Aux. Gym); 11 a.m.-noon: Mountain Vista vs. Lakewood (Main Gym); Chaparral vs. Fort Collins (Aux. Gym); Noon-1 p.m.: Chatfield vs. Arapahoe (Main Gym); Monarch vs. GRANDVIEW (Aux. Gym); 1-2 p.m.: Chatfield vs. GRANDVIEW (Main Gym); Arapahoe vs. Monarch (Aux. Gym); 2-3 p.m.: REGIS JESUIT vs. CHEROKEE TRAIL (Main Gym); Legend vs. Smoky Hill (Aux. Gym); 3-4 p.m.: Legend vs. CHEROKEE TRAIL (Main Gym); REGIS JESUIT vs. SMOKY HILL (Aux. Gym)

DAY 2 (June 15)

8-9 a.m.: ThunderRidge vs. Fort Collins (Main Gym); Heritage vs. Lakewood (Aux. Gym); 9-10 a.m.: Heritage vs. Fort Collins (Main Gym); ThunderRidge vs. Lakewood (Aux. Gym); 10-11 a.m.: Chaparral vs. OVERLAND (Main Gym); Mountain Vista vs. Mullen (Aux. Gym); 11 a.m.-noon: Mountain Vista vs. OVERLAND (Main Gym); Chaparral vs. Mullen (Aux. Gym); Noon-1 p.m.: Monarch vs. CHEROKEE TRAIL (Main Gym); Chatfield vs. SMOKY HILL (Aux. Gym); 1-2 p.m.: Monarch vs. SMOKY HILL (Main Gym); Chatfield vs. CHEROKEE TRAIL (Aux. Gym); 2-3 p.m.: Legend vs. Arapahoe (Main Gym); REGIS JESUIT vs. GRANDVIEW (Aux. Gym); 3-4 p.m.: GRANDVIEW vs. Legend (Main Gym); REGIS JESUIT vs. Arapahoe (Aux. Gym)

DAY 3 (June 16)

Schedule depends on results of pool play

At Rock Canyon High School

DAY 1 (June 14)

10-11 a.m.: Rock Canyon vs. G.J. Central (Main Gym); Rampart vs. Castle View (Aux. Gym);  11 a.m.-noon: Castle View vs. G.J. Central (Main Gym); Rock Canyon vs. Rampart (Aux. Gym); Noon-1 p.m.: Doherty vs. EAGLECREST (Main Gym); Valor Christian vs. Cherry Creek (Aux. Gym);  1-2 p.m.: Valor Christian vs. EAGLECREST (Main Gym); Doherty vs. Cherry Creek (Aux. Gym)

DAY 2 (June 15)

10-11 a.m.: Rampart vs. Cherry Creek (Main Gym); EAGLECREST vs. G.J. Central (Aux. Gym); 11 a.m.-noon: G.J. Central vs. Cherry Creek (Main Gym); Rampart vs. EAGLECREST (Aux. Gym); Noon-1 p.m.: Rock Canyon vs. Doherty (Main Gym); Castle View vs. Valor Christian (Aux. Gym); 1-2 p.m.: Doherty vs. Castle View (Main Gym); Rock Canyon vs. Valor Christian (Aux. Gym)

DAY 3 (June 16)

Schedule depends on results of pool play

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

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Former Gateway star CJ Sanders, left, will get another chance to terrorize defenders as part of the South Team at the annual Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State Games football contest at 7:30 p.m. June 10 at Adams State University. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

Before they head off to college, a number of graduated Aurora athletes get the chance for one more prep competition at the annual Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State Games, which run June 8-11, 2016, on the campus of Adams State University in Alamosa.

Athletes selected for the All-State Games in a variety of sports and from schools of all classifications and ares around Colorado, get the chance to stay on the college campus and take part in practices and play in games scheduled at a variety of venues.

Aurora’s largest contingent will be part of the All-State football game, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. June 10, as a total of nine players from city programs appear on the North and South team rosters.

The South features the lion’s share of Aurora players, including former Cherokee Trail teammates Ashton Torres and Anthony Holmes (who will play for a coaching staff featuring former Cougars’ boss and current Legend head coach Monte Thelen), plus former Rangeview teammates George Marpaung and DeVante’ Wheaten, former Centennial League foes Alijah Halliburton of Overland and Eaglecrest’s Charles Roberts as well as ex-Gateway star CJ Sanders.

Vista PEAK’s Alex Hawkins and Aurora Central’s Mike Retland appear on the North Team roster.

Eaglecrest’s Tayler Mashburn appeared in the opening game of the weekend, the All-State softball game on June 8, while wrestling and basketball are next up on June 10.

Grandview’s Tanner Patterson is among the wrestlers involved in the All-State match (2 p.m. at Plachy Hall), while Aurora Central wrestling coach Conrad Parra is part of the coaching staff.

Cherokee Trail’s Jaleesa Avery and Regis Jesuit’s TaeKenya Cleveland suit up for the White and Red teams, respectively, in the girls basketball competition, which is slated for games at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. at Alamosa High School. The football game caps the day’s action.

Cross country, volleyball and boys basketball finals will be contested June 11, though no Aurora athletes are on hand for those sports.

Grandview’s Elizabeth Humston is among the All-State spirit members selected who will be participating throughout the weekend.

Full rosters for each All-State Games competition, here.

AURORA ATHLETES AT 2016 CHSCA ALL-STATE GAMES

June 8-11, 2016, at Adams State University

Football: North Team — Alex Hawkins (Vista PEAK); Mike Retland (Aurora Central); South Team — Alijah Halliburton (Overland); Anthony Holmes (Cherokee Trail); George Marpaung (Rangeview); Charles Roberts (Eaglecrest); CJ Sanders (Gateway); Ashton Torres (Cherokee Trail); DeVante’ Wheaten (Rangeview); Coach: Monte Thelen (Cherokee Trail, now Legend)

Girls Basketball: White Team — Jaleesa Avery (Cherokee Trail); Red Team — TaeKenya Cleveland (Regis Jesuit)

Softball: Tayler Mashburn (Eaglecrest)

Wrestling: Tanner Patterson (Grandview); Coach — Conrad Parra (Aurora Central)

Spirit: Elizabeth Humston (Grandview)

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

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Versatile DeVante’ Wheaten (5) of Rangeview is one of nine Aurora seniors selected to play in the 2016 Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State Football Game, scheduled for June 10, 2016, on the campus of Adams State University in Alamosa. A large number of city seniors in a variety of sports were chosen for the June 8-11 All-State Games. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

ALAMOSA | Rosters for the 2016 Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State Games set for June 8-11, 2016, on the campus of Adams State University. Aurora athletes bold and uppercased:

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or sports@aurorasentinel.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel

2016 CHSCA ALL-STATE GAMES ROSTERS

FOOTBALL

NORTH ROSTER: Zane Alsdorf (Bennett); Brandon Anderson (Sedgwick County); Alonzo Archuleta (Roosevelt); Matt Brady (Ponderosa); Bryce Buderus (Holy Family); Owen Burke (D’Evelyn); Matt Caesar (Dakota Ridge); Colton Cline (Elizabeth); Jon Cole (Columbine); Thomas Creese (Fairview); Larry Trai Crook (The Academy); Luke Cross (Resurrection Christian); Chase Daniels (Golden); Charlie Davis (D’Evelyn); Nathan DeWitte (Longmont); James Doyle (D’Evelyn); JT Gentry (Columbine); Kielar Harpham (Fort Collins); ALEX HAWKINS (VISTA PEAK); Daniel Henriquez (Kennedy); Matthew Hoffman (Platte Valley); Parker Joens (Platte Valley); Otis Johnson (Rocky Mountain); Todd Jones (Boulder); Nolan Lanckriet (Windsor); Elijah Larry (Horizon); Tim Lenhart (Mountain View); Trent Leoffler (Arickaree/Woodlin); Jake Lowry (Columbine); Jeremy Lujan (Dakota Ridge); Alex Mai (Fort Morgan); Christian Majszak (Roosevelt); Mitchell Martin (Strasburg); Toby McBride (Fort Morgan); Will McKissick (Kent Denver); Zach Mollendor (Holy Family); Trevor Olsen (Faith Christian); Dillon Pace (Westminster); MIKE RETLAND (AURORA CENTRAL); Kaeson Risner (Wiggins); Gerardo Rodriguez (Westminster); Clay Shaver (Brush); TJ Shelton (Meeker); Zachary Spears (The Academy); Buck Thenell (Mullen); Taylor Walters (Paonia); Coaches: Troy Hoffman (Platte Valley); Rich Martinez (Kennedy); Kerry Denison (Westminster); Jim Kreikemeier (Fort Morgan)

SOUTH ROSTER: Broden Baker (Legend); TeQuan Baker (Doherty); Tyler Bosshardt (Rifle); Cole Bryant (La Junta); Bryce Buhr (Crowley County); Payton Cain (Heritage); Jonathan Curti (Palmer); Josh Cusworth (Pueblo County); Joe DeLine (Steamboat Springs); Caine Farmer (Kit Carson); Presley Garcia (Monte Vista); Spencer Gatlin (Dove Creek); Ray Haas (Arapahoe); Jayce Hall (The Classical Academy); ALIJAH HALLIBURTON (OVERLAND); Jayden Hilferty (Limon); ANTHONY HOLMES (CHEROKEE TRAIL); Rafe Hutches (Springfield); Noah Loutherback (Bayfield); Darian Lujan (Trinidad); GEORGE MARPAUNG (RANGEVIEW); Daniel Martin (Pueblo East); Nick Pavlik (Lewis-Palmer); Stelios Peroulis (Moffat County); Kyle Peterson (The Classical Academy); Zane Phelps (Bayfield); Tim Pless (Heritage); CHARLES ROBERTS (EAGLECREST); CJ SANDERS (GATEWAY); AJ Sena (Pueblo Centennial); Matthew Steele (Doherty); Tyler Spence (Roaring Fork); Ryan Strabala (Coronado); Zach Thatcher (Pueblo Centennial); ASHTON TORRES (CHEROKEE TRAIL); Elway Tubbs (Vista Ridge); Juan Toscano (Eagle Valley); Michael Valdez (Monte Vista); Keegan Wentz (Buena Vista); DEVANTE’ WHEATEN (RANGEVIEW); Jack Wibbles (Pine Creek); Matt Yockey (Mountain Vista); Trey Zupancic (Rye); Coaches: MONTE THELEN (CHEROKEE TRAIL, now Legend); Jeff Krumlauf (Doherty); Justin Rich (TCA); Jerry Duran (Monte Vista)

BOYS BASKETBALL

WHITE TEAM: Caden Eastin (Wiley); Jared Foss (Eaton); Jason George (Simla); Brandon Gorman (Briggsdale); Trevor Hurlburt (Idalia); Ivan Mendoza (West Grand); Jadyn Michael (DSST-Green Valley Ranch); Ben Pratt (Frontier Academy); Michael Scheid (Windsor); Tyler Woodhams (Sedgwick County); Coaches: Dustin Duncan (Eaton) and David Guy (Simla)

RED TEAM: Clayton Brubacher (Alamosa); Quincy Bryant Jr. (Mitchell); Justin Duran (Cheraw); Jordan Ernst (Dove Creek); Luke Fick (Resurrection Christian); Jesus Martinez (The Pinnacle Charter); Maximo Medina (DSST-Stapleton); Morgan Murray (Ellicott); John Parker (Grand Valley); Patrick Vasquez (Fort Lupton); Coaches: Terry Dunn (Sierra) and Scott Parker (Grand Valley)

BLUE TEAM: TJ Clark (Liberty); Durham Clark (Edison); Gray Hill (Shining Mountain Waldorf); Maleek Johnson (Pueblo South); Cole McKinley (Revere); Blake Meredith (Fleming); Jose Orrantia (Mountain View); Cameron Pearson (Chatfield); Jesse Santala (Flagler); Noah Saunders (Falcon); Coaches: Robert Tyler (Pueblo West) and Kerry Sherman (Weldon Valley)

BLACK TEAM: Miles Caldon (Sanford); Chance Canty (Sanford); Josh Ennis (Eagle Ridge Academy); Briar Erskine (Pagosa Springs); Matthew Florek (Limon); Kyle Freel (Sangre de Cristo); Connor Hale (Rye); Wyatt Hayes (Ignacio); Jesus Loya (Holyoke), Brett Wilson (Pritchett); Coaches: Chris Valdez (Ignacio) and Matt Lucero (Sierra Grande)

GIRLS BASKETBALL

WHITE TEAM: JALEESA AVERY (CHEROKEE TRAIL); Kanecia Cooks (Sierra); Haley Dollerschell (Prairie); Megan Gerk (Haxtun); Taylor Lee-Hammer (Pagosa Springs); Madison Lewis (Pagosa Springs); Tairaius Lucas (Englewood); Hannah Moore (Rocky Ford); Josie Sanchez (Del Norte); Ciarra Tate (Walsh); Coaches: Gil Sanchez (Del Norte) and Dan Dallas (Del Norte)

RED TEAM: TAEKENYA CLEVELAND (REGIS JESUIT); Karleigh Cooley (Sangre de Cristo); Cheylin Corman (Burlington); Samantha Kisiel (Evergreen); Jenna Knudson (Sterling); Dana Lenz (Sanford); Jenna McKinley (Sangre de Cristo); Jillian Shew (Skyview); JazMyne Snipes (ThunderRidge); Holly Tehan (Middle Park); Coaches: Billy Salaz (Adams City) and Marvin Martinez (Del Norte)

BLUE TEAM: Taryn Book (Genoa-Hugo); Nicea Eliley (Rampart); Veronica Fringer (Centauri); Madisen Gaibler (Longmont); Heidi Hammond (Valor Christian); AJ Miller (Akron); Shannon Sanchez (Pueblo West); Ellie Seibel (Ignacio); Symone Starks (Highlands Ranch); Torrie Thompson (Stratton); Coaches: Mike Knaus (Longmont) and Bob Wiley (Longmont)

BLACK TEAM: McKenna Bishop (Lakewood); Kristina Cavey (Berthoud); Mackenzie Forrest (Lakewood); Danielle Freeman (Cedaredge); Darian Hale (Briggsdale); Maggie Hartman (St. Mary’s); Maya Love (Kent Denver); Taylor Nittler (Kim); Miranda Schowalter (Plateau Valley); Ashley VanVleet (Paonia); Madison Zielinski (Kiowa); Coaches: Steve Latuda (Highland) and Scott Rinks (Paonia)

SOFTBALL

Taylor Armitage (Berthoud); Shannon Bass (Chaparral); Tayllor Bruntz (The Academy); Caitlyn Charlesworth (Palisade); Riley Craig (Mountain Range); Christina Cunningham (Woodland Park); Casey Esquivel (Pine Creek); Samantha Galley (Cedaredge); Katie Glaze (Erie); Kaitlyn Hanks (Strasburg); Hailey Hinson (Windsor); Bre Hamilton (Windsor); Clara Larson (Douglas County); Emily Marcus (The Academy); TAYLER MASHBURN (EAGLECREST); Jailen Minnich (Pueblo East); Mae Mitchell (Frederick); Andriann Oakley (Strasburg); Valerie Ortega (Mountain Range); Alyssa Patterson (Pueblo Centennial); Taylor Renaud (Eaton); Mercedes Salazar (Pueblo Central); Jordan Smith (Chaparral); Rylie Strong (Ralston Valley); Coaches: Dane Craig (Mountain Range); Kelsey Massaro (Pueblo East); Harold Simmons (Erie); Bob Knudson (Sterling)

VOLLEYBALL

WHITE TEAM: Tacie Canfield (McClave); Elise Hill (Montrose); Kylie Hurst (Windsor); Brooke Mitchell (Sargent); Keely Ruby (Mountain Vista); Olivia Seng (Poudre); Erica Sinclair (Sangre de Cristo); Maggie Smith (Platte Valley); Rayanne Vega-Perkins (St. Mary’s Academy); Shaelynn Wood (Campo/South Baca); Coaches: Laverne Huston (Windsor) and Tom Hunter (Poudre)

RED TEAM: Rebecca Abrahanson (Clear Creek); Taylor Carsten (Paonia); Emily Crossley (Custer County); Alexandra Hirst (Green Mountain); Christa Kennedy (Norwood); Angela McGownd (Loveland); Mallory Noble (Yuma); Julie Smith (Kiowa); Tara Traphgan (Yuma); Taylor West (Community Christian); Coaches: Jenny Noble (Yuma) and Krista Carsten (Paonia)

BLUE TEAM: Lauren Addington (La Junta); Karli Baker (Fort Morgan); DLanee Doyle (Walsh); Kenzie Henderson (Cedaredge); Jennifer Lau (Woodland Park); Jenna Mansfield (Rye); Mikaela Parker (Calhan); Caiden Rexius (Eaton); Audrey Stansberry (Olathe); Brooke Trujillo (Alamosa); Coaches: Lori McCoin (Elizabeth) and Lori Currier (CSCS)

BLACK TEAM: Kylee Kuntz (Otis); Lissette Lefforge (Otis); Victoria Macaluso (Rock Canyon); Santana Mestas (Pueblo West); Antonia Schaffert (Otis); Bailey Schumacher (Eaton); Reagan Shaffer (Idalia); Elise Tolley (Alamosa); Raquel Valdez (Mountain View); Taylor Ziska (Mountain View); Coaches: Bonnie Wallin-Kuntz (Otis) and Kylie Chamberlain (Idalia)

CROSS COUNTRY

Breanna Clayton (Roosevelt); Sydney Clayton (Roosevelt); Mackenzie Dill (Highland); Makayla Garcia (Sargent); Maria Montes (Sargent); Angelina Riggs (Sargent); Alyssa Settles (Lamar); Cori Small (Elizabeth); Faith Stults (Sargent); Kayli Short (Custer County); Sydney Fesenmeyer (Salida); Isaac Bernatchez (Sterling); Jake Boss (Elizabeth); Kaleb Crum (Lamar); Elijah Grewal (Berthoud); Matthew Hartshorn (Lamar); Cole Hiigel (Lamar); Ro Paschal (Mancos); Jacob Rogers (Lamar); Logan Sessums (Sargent); Conner Shaver (Fort Morgan); Brandon Sheard (Eagle Valley); Taylor Stack (Salida); Isaac Yoder (Eaglecrest); Justin Gonzales (Moffat); Matt Jordan (Eagle Valley); Russel Orris (Salida); Jesse Oris (Salida); Coaches: John Swartz (Custer County); Brett Shanklin (Frontier Academy); Mark Stenbeck (Dakota Ridge); Kelly Christensen (Palmer Ridge)

WRESTLING

Eric Allen (St. Mary’s); Garrikc Arias (Woodland Park); Case Baughman (Dove Creek); Diego Calderon (Poudre); Colton Cordova (Hotchkiss); Zach Damian (Valley); Kris Davis (Widefield); Sabyn Diamond (Buena Vista); Macoy Flanagan (Valley); Morgan Fogg (Highland); Samuel Freeman (Mesa Ridge); Chayden Harris (Olathe); Ben Hinds (The Classical Academy); Michael Johnson (Lamar); Owen Lamb (Poudre); Christopher Martin (Centauri); Jesus Morales (Battle Mountain); TANNER PATTERSON (GRANDVIEW); Sam Raphael (The Classical Academy); Dalton Robertson (Weld Central); Jacob Robles (Pueblo East); Devin Roettger (Mesa Ridge); Eduardo Rojas (Greeley Central); Nick Snyder (Canon City); Coaches: Eddie Soto (Pueblo County), CONRAD PARRA (AURORA CENTRAL), Erik Goodling (Battle Mountain)

SPIRIT

Ambrosia Anderson (Centaurus); Diane Arias (Alamosa); Alexis Bowman (Strasburg); Jasmine Burns (James Irwin Charter); Hannah Carver (Palisade); Desarae Gomez (Alamosa); Sierra Gosch (Berthoud); Dustin Howland (Sheridan); ELIZABETH HUMSTON (GRANDVIEW); Morgan Laverty (Chaparral); Jordyn Martinez (Pagosa Springs); Fatima Martinez (Basalt); Savannah Medina (Sheridan); Alicia Navajo (Sheridan); Brooklyn Newberry (Rock Canyon); Elizabeth Petersen (Arapahoe); Sarah Prater (Palmer Ridge); Mikayla Rahman (Pine Creek); Taylor Ramsaur (Skyline); Randy Rochford (Strasburg); Haydin Warehime (Berthoud); Bailey Weland (Chaparral); Coaches: Jana Blue (Denver East), Heather Acampora (Castle View), Suzie Triplett (Skyline)