Sentinel Blogs

Courtney Oakes

Sports Editor for the Aurora Sentinel, grand stands

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


Aug. 9: Charlie Nicholson, Aurora Hills G.C., No. 11, 155 yards, 6 iron. Witnesses: Dwight Salisbury, Duane Mellinger, John Weber.

Aug. 9: Jeff Niblo, Aurora Hills G.C., No. 17, 159 yards, 9 iron. Witnesses: Don Hunt, Kent Staton, Gary Leiker.

Aug. 12: Rick Shaffer, Aurora Hills G.C., No. 3, 166 yards, 6 iron. Witnesses: Brandon Shaffer, Mark Wolfgang, Randy Dalke.

Aug. 17: Chet Wilmes, Aurora Hills G.C., No. 3, 165 yards, 7 iron. Witnesses: Roger Gunderson, Eric Martin, Kip Hoffman.

Aug. 18: Bob Hartman, Aurora Hills G.C., No. 3, 157 yards, 8 iron. Witnesses: Ron Paolucci, Scott McKimmy, Chuck Dekruif.

Aug. 20: Rick Thorstad, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 5, 89 yards, gap wedge. Witnesses: Kevin Maynard, Ron Markovich.

Aug. 24: Grant Foster, Aurora Hills G.C., No. 7, 175 yards, 5 wood. Witnesses: Richard Perovich, Reid Foster, Quinn Foster.

Aug. 25: James Beatty, Springhill G.C., No. 18, 160 yards, 6 iron. Witnesses: Jim Perry, Mike Keffer, Bill Chambers.

Aug. 31: Mallory Dively, Springhill G.C., No. 6, 139 yards, pitching wedge. Witness: Ryland Glass.


Sept 12: David Lehman, Meadow Hills G.C., No. 15, 192 yards, 3 wood. Witnesses: Brandt Demuth, Jack Rosenthal, Dominic Bazile, Tom Miller, Grace Castellanos

Sept. 16: Michael Menze, Aurora Hills G.C., No. 13, 183 yards, 5 wood. Witness: Ron Bakke.

Sept. 17: Bryant Kligerman, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 5, wedge. Witnesses: Ron Arnold, Sid Harriet, Bob Boyle.


Oct. 13: John Sheehan, Saddle Rock G.C., No. 16, 153 yards, 7 iron. Witnesses: Bob Baker, Brian Grouer.

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

The third annual RJ Demps Memorial 3-on-3 basketball tournament — rescheduled from over the summer — is set for Saturday at Regis Jesuit High School.

For the third time, the Regis Jesuit basketball program will honor the memory of the late RJ Demps — a well-liked point guard who helped lead the Raiders to the first of their three straight Class 5A state championships in the 2008-09 season — with a 3-on-3 tournament.

The jersey of former Regis Jesuit boys basketball standout, the late R.J. Demps, hangs above the team room in the Regis Jesuit Boys Division gymnasium. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

Check-in is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Saturday, with play set to begin at 8 a.m. Applications must be emailed by Friday (Oct. 3) at the latest to Susan Shaw at or call 720-253-8907.

Demps passed away in December of 2011 as the result of injuries suffered in a car accident as he was headed to the airport to return home for winter break from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

The tournament features 3-on-3 competition in several divisions for teams of up to five players: youth (under ninth grade), high school (competitive and recreation) and adult (competitive and recreational).

Proceeds from the $100 entry fee per team go towards a scholarship at Regis Jesuit in Demps’ honor.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

The fervor in the intense rivalry between Cherokee Trail and Grandview high schools should reach fever pitch Thursday.

The Cougars and Wolves meet in powerhouse volleyball and football contests on the same night at the same place — Cherokee Trail — with fans of both schools now able to attend both contests because of a schedule change.

Originally scheduled for a 6:15 p.m. first serve, the schools agreed to move the volleyball contest up to 5:15 p.m., meaning it could be completed before the football teams are scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. across the parking lot at Legacy Stadium.

That might not be the case, however, as the Cherokee Trail and Grandview volleyball teams played a memorable five-set marathon Sept. 18 that ended with the Cougars prevailing 21-25, 27-25, 28-26, 36-38, 16-14.

Needless to say, the parking lots at Cherokee Trail will be filled to the brim, so get there early.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

As usual, the 2014 Eaglecrest Invitational volleyball tournament is a doozy.


One of the better collections of teams from a variety of classifications is set for Friday and Saturday at The Nest, with the host Raptors, defending Class 5A state champion Grandview and Aurora Central representing Aurora in the 13-team field.

Split into three three-team pools and one four-team group, the tournament is set to run pool play beginning at 4 p.m. Friday and concluding Saturday morning before bracket play to decide places.

Coach Tanya Bond’s 1-1 Eaglecrest team is the No. 1 team in Pool 2 — which also includes Brighton (2-1) and Legacy (0-2) — while coach Patty Childress and Grandview (1-2) sit as the top team in the four-team Pool 4, which also features Aurora Central (1-0) in addition to 3A undefeated Eaton (6-0) and fast-starting Denver East (6-1).

Helming Pool 1 is 4A undefeated Cheyenne Mountain (4-0) — which beat Grandview in four sets on Sept. 4 — while Pool 3 is topped by Fossil Ridge (2-1) and also includes Pine Creek (2-1), which swept Eaglecrest in the opener for both teams on Aug. 28.

Other 3A teams in the field include University (3-1) and Faith Christian (2-1).

Last year’s tournament had to be condensed to a single day and adjusted from 16 to 12 teams due to the massive rainfall and flooding that occurred a few days prior and kept teams from north of the metro area from attending.

Grandview won last season’s championship.


POOL 1: 1. Cheyenne Mountain, 2. Mountain Vista, 3. University; POOL 2: 1. EAGLECREST, 2. Brighton, 3. Legacy; POOL 3: 1. Fossil Ridge, 2. Pine Creek, 3. Faith Christian; POOL 4: 1. GRANDVIEW, 2. Eaton, 3. Denver East, 4. AURORA CENTRAL


Sept. 12 — 4 p.m.: No. 1 vs. No. 3; 30 minute break; 6 p.m.: No. 2 vs. No. 3; Sept. 13 — 8 a.m.: No. 1 vs. No. 2


Sept. 12 — 4 p.m.: No. 1 vs. No. 3; 5 p.m.: No. 2 vs. No. 4; 6 p.m.: No. 1 vs. No. 4; 7 p.m.: No. 3 vs. No. 2; Sept. 13 — 8 a.m.: No. 4 vs. No. 3; 9 a.m.: No. 2 vs. No. 1


10 a.m.: No. 1 vs. No. 4; 11 a.m.: No. 2 vs. No. 3; Noon: Loser vs. loser (third-place); 1 p.m.: Winner vs. winner (championship)

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Chance Siegele hasn’t seen a lot of seventh innings in his season-plus stint as Gateway softball coach.

Either on the winning or losing end of blowout decisions, the Olys rarely have been in games in which the mercy rule (a lead of 10 runs or more after five innings) hasn’t been invoked.

Gateway-Overland softball scorebook, page 2 (Courtesy Chance Siegele) Gateway-Overland softball scorebook, page 1 (Courtesy Chance Siegele)

Gateway did that and more on Tuesday at Overland, where it waged a nine-inning battle that lasted 3 1/2 hours and nearly fell victim to the fading daylight. In the end, the Trailblazers walked off into the sunset with a 27-26 walk-off victory.

“Kelly (Overland coach Jones-Wagy) and I talked before the game and I mentioned that one of my goals before the season was to make it to the seventh inning and hopefully we can get there today,” Siegele said. “We made it. …I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it. It was nuts.”

Siegele’s team remained winless in seven games this season, but had plenty of chances to win this particular game. The Olys surrendered a one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh, a three-run advantage in the bottom of the eighth and finally gave away a five-run edge in the ninth inning when Overland scored six times to get its first win of the year.

It took the Gateway scorekeeper two pages in a scorebook to keep the stats and even those ended up fairly illegible. From memory, Siegele believes his cleanup hitter, Sarah Alvarado, drove in at least 12 runs and his starting pitcher, Iva Griffiths, worked the entire nine innings and would have easily had double-digit strikeouts if not for a number of dropped third strikes.

Griffiths and Alvarado — the only two Olys with significant playing experience — were proud of the team’s effort.

“We have a really new team, but that didn’t stop the ladies from trying their hardest, stretching the game to two extra innings and playing their hearts out,” Griffiths said. “I was so proud of them and the way we refused to give up no matter how the game was going.”

Siegele also looked forward to the potential impact playing in a game like that could have on the team for the rest of the season.

“We’ve played some pretty good teams, so most of the time, I’m telling them ‘let’s learn and eliminate mistakes and I want you growing as a player,'” he said. “Last night, it was like ‘let’s go out and win this!’ You could see the excitement and anticipation, so I think they still have plenty to be proud of.”

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

The most eye-popping result of the first week of prep football for Aurora teams? Clearly Thursday’s Eaglecrest and St. Cloud (Florida) contest at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando fit the bill.

Eaglecrest quarterback Elijah Ross threw four touchdown passes in the Raptors’ 69-56 loss to St. Cloud (Florida) on Aug. 28, 2014, in Orlando, Florida. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

A game so chock-full of action that Eaglecrest athletic director Vince Orlando ran out of battery power on his phone as he tried to provide updates on the school’s Twitter account, coach Mike Schmitt’s Raptors and the Bulldogs piled up 88 points in the first half alone and ended with a total of 125 on the scoreboard, 69 for St. Cloud and 56 for Eaglecrest.

When the dust had cleared on the video game-like contest, the teams combined for more than 1,200 yards of total offense and both had quarterbacks who threw four touchdown passes — Elijah Ross for the Raptors and Hunter Weismore for the Bulldogs.

Ross, a star for Eaglecrest’s basketball team, racked up 380 yards of total offense — 203 yards passing on 13 completions and 177 yards rushing on 12 attempts — and accounted for five touchdowns. He threw touchdown passes of 44 and 23 yards to Peter Anderson, 21 yards to Anthony Karmazyn and 5 yards to Matt Lally and ran for 3-yarder. Meanwhile, Glenn Washington ripped off 156 yards rushing for the Raptors.

Eaglecrest’s defense, meanwhile, has now surrendered a total of 132 points in its past 96 minutes of football, including the 63 points Valor Christian put up in the first round of last season’s Class 5A state playoffs.

While Eaglecrest’s defense gave up a lot of points, it also scored some of its own on a Tommy Johnson interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Hinkley junior linebacker QuaSean Smith walks the sidelines sporting the Thunderbirds’ new uniform for the 2014 season. With the new gear on, Hinkley down Aurora Central 27-6 on Aug. 22, 2014, in a Zero Week football game. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

Robert O’Brien knew that new uniforms were coming and couldn’t wait for his Hinkley football players to see them.

Christmas Day for the team came a day before the Thunderbirds’ Zero Week game against rival Aurora Central, when the players showed up to a team dinner to discover some new threads that amped them up further to get on the field.

Clad in the new all-dark gray adidas uniforms that featured ‘Thunderbirds” across the chest and white wings on each of the shoulders, O’Brien’s team soared to a quality 27-6 victory over the Trojans in front of 2,288 people at Aurora Public Schools Stadium.

“I’ve known about them for a couple of months, but we had an unveil last night and the kids went nuts,” said O’Brien, who got a win in his head coaching debut. “It’s really cool to give something to the community and to kids that don’t necessarily have everything. …They were proud to be out there wearing those uniforms and that’s what we want. They are proud to be T-Birds.”

Senior Ahonsi Ohimai put the new gear to good use, as he rushed for 160 yards and three touchdowns and nabbed a key interception. He definitely attributed some of the team’s swagger to the new uniforms.

“They surprised us with them yesterday and it was like ‘Welcome to the new Hinkley,'” Ohimai said. “Everybody went wild. We weren’t expecting these, but we love them.”

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Erica Denney is back playing volleyball in Colorado.

The 6-foot-5 former Grandview High School star middle hitter spent the past four years at NCAA powerhouse Penn State, but now will complete her college eligibility as a member of the University of Denver Pioneers volleyball team.

Erica Denney (Via

Denney played on the Wolves’ undefeated 2007 Class 5A state championship team and appeared in three 5A finals in four high school seasons before she signed with Penn State. With the Nittany Lions, Denney redshirted as a freshman in 2010, played in one set as a redshirt freshman in 2011 and appeared in six matches — for a total of nine sets — in 2012. She also missed the 2013 season — when Penn State won its sixth NCAA championship — due to injury.

“We are thrilled to have Erica join our program,” Denver head coach Jesse Mahoney said in a statement. “She is a quality person and an intense competitor who has played volleyball at the highest levels. She has battled injuries throughout her career at Penn State, but she is healthy now and excited to get back on the court. We are looking forward to seeing what her experience will bring to the mix as we start the pre-season.”

Denney — who graduated with a degree in Animal Sciences and is taking graduate courses at Denver — practiced with the Pioneers on Aug. 9 and is on track to play in their first match on Aug. 29 against Jackson State.

Denver assistant coach Katelin Batten is another former Grandview player, but Denney joins a roster that is currently loaded with players from one of Grandview’s main rivals, Eaglecrest.

The addition of defensive specialist/libero Taylor Loyd, a 2014 graduate, brings the tally of former Eaglecrest players on the Pioneers’ roster to three, as she joins middle blocker Ruth Okoye and setter Bailey Karst. Karst — who was part of the Aurora Sentinel All-City Volleyball Team along with Denney in 2008-09 — also transferred to Denver after starting her career at the University of Ohio.

The Denver roster also includes another former player from an Aurora school in middle blocker Sarah Schmid, a Regis Jesuit High School graduate.

Denney’s sister, Cat, is currently on the roster at Doane College.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Regis Jesuit junior Hayden Smith, right, smiles after recording a hole-in-one on Hole No. 2 at Aurora’s Meadow Hills Golf Course during tryouts on Aug. 5, 2014. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

The Regis Jesuit boys golf program has been a certified juggernaut in recent years.

Yet none of the many golfers who’ve moved along to the college level and contributed to an ongoing run of four straight Class 5A state championships had done what junior Hayden Smith did during tryouts Tuesday at Aurora’s Meadow Hills Golf Course.

Playing in the second-to-last of Regis Jesuit’s many groups, Smith used a 6-iron off the tee on the par 3 Hole No. 2, dropped his shot onto the raised green and watched the ball roll into the cup for a hole-in-one. Smith and his three playing partners rushed to the green to find the ball in the hole.

Longtime Regis Jesuit assistant coach Ted Schilling, who arrived on the scene just after the ace along with Steve Cavnar, said it was the first hole-in-one during Raiders’ tryouts in his eight seasons and veteran head coach Craig Rogers later confirmed it was the first one ever at tryouts in his long tenure.

Regis Jesuit had a hotly-contested tryout going to make the top five that will play in the first Continental League tournament on Thursday at South Suburban Golf Course.

Senior John Kane fired a 69 in the first round of tryouts and a slew of others shot in the 70s for the Raiders.

Last season, Smoky Hill’s Paul Cleveland recorded an ace at Saddle Rock Golf Course for the first hole-in-one in Centennial League regular season play in at least 12 years.

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

The Regis Jesuit boys lacrosse team holds up the Class 5A state championship trophy it won on May 17, 2014, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Raiders hope to win a second straight 5A title and will aim to play in a championship game scheduled for May 15, 2015 — a Friday night — instead of its normally scheduled time on a Saturday afternoon. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

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, 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