Sentinel Blogs

Courtney Oakes

Sports Editor for the Aurora Sentinel, grand stands

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


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 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 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 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

Aurora Prep

Eaglecrest’s Tory Humphrey coached Colorado Rockies’ 1st round pick Kyle Freeland at TJ

While Tory Humphrey isn’t likely to have any of his Eaglecrest High School baseball players selected over the three days of the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, one of his former charges went very early Thursday.

With the No. 8 overall pick in the first round, University of Evansville left-handed pitcher Kyle Freeland — who Humphrey coached for three years at Thomas Jefferson High School — went to the hometown Colorado Rockies.

Humphrey was at the family’s Denver home when the news came that the Rockies had taken Freeland, who went 10-2 with a 1.90 ERA and a 128-13 strikeout to walk ratio as a junior at Evansville.

“It’s crazy here,” Humphrey said in a message about the reaction of the 50-60 people gathered to watch the draft.

Humphrey also coached Freeland’s older brother for four years with the Spartans, who appeared in the 2008 Class 4A state championship game.

“Kyle was one of our BP shaggers! He’s come a long way,” Humphrey said.

Humphrey spent nine seasons at Thomas Jefferson, then moved on to a stint as an assistant coach at Metropolitan State College of Denver before he took over the Eaglecrest program prior to the 2012 season,

— Courtney Oakes, Sports Editor

Aurora Prep

Aurora holes-in-one, April & May

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 303-750-7699 or email


May 28: Dick Dean, Saddle Rock G.C., No. 14, 158 yards, 8 iron. Witness: Rich Silver.

May 27: Ryan Amsbury, Murphy Creek G.C., No. 8, 183 yards, 7 wood. Witnesses: James Anderson, Mike Maloney.

May 26: Scott Little, Murphy Creek G.C., No. 8, 196 yards, 6 iron. Witness: Anthony Glaziano.

May 24: Ed Kelly, Springhill G.C., No. 3, 143 yards, 8 iron. Witnesses: Regina Edmondson, Omar Montgomery.

May 22: Winnie Fleming, Murphy Creek G.C., No. 11, 120 yards, 3 wood. Witnesses: Terry Barbo, DeeAnn Knudsen, Gini Klein.

May 18: Doug Clark, Saddle Rock G.C., No. 16, 175 yards, 8 iron. Witnesses: Trevor Clark, Tyler Clark, Xander Opel.

May 18: Lonnie Olivar, Fitzsimson G.C., No. 9, 139 yards, pitching wedge. Witnesses: Kevin Albien, Chris Bruce, Eric Martin.

May 17: Nick Delap, Aurora Hills G.C., No. 3, 180 yards, 6 iron. Witness: Jeff Smith.

May 10: Kyle Waldschmidt, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 14, 206 yards, 5 iron. Witnesses: Drew Firebaugh, Jim Gordon.

May 7: Wes Sthole, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 11, 200 yards, 7 wood. Witnesses: Denny, Craig, Walter.


April 24: Gary Wardlow, Fitzsimons G.C., No. 9, 132 yards, 9 Srixon. Witnesses: Gary Gradosville, Bill Musselman, Scott Quigley

— Courtney Oakes, Sports Editor

Aurora Prep

Retirement party set for outgoing Aurora Public Schools AD Tony Antolini

Aurora Public Schools will bid adieu to one its fixtures of more than three decades with the retirement of district athletic director Tony Antolini.

A retirement party is scheduled for 3:30-5:30 p.m. on May 3o and will honor the 35 years of service in the district by Antolini, who has served as an assistant principal at Rangeview High School, a gym teacher at North Middle School and most recently the Director of District Athletics and Activities for the district.

The party is open to all former students, coaches or parents who want to wish Antolini well and is scheduled for the district’s Professional Learning Conference Center (PLCC), which is located at 15771 E. 1st Ave. Refreshments will be served.

In late April, APS announced the hiring of Palisade High School athletic director Michael Krueger to fill Antolini’s post.

— Courtney Oakes, Sports Editor

Cherokee Trail caps unbeaten season with state championship in boys volleyball Aurora Prep

Cherokee Trail caps unbeaten season with state championship in boys volleyball

Not to be lost in the parade of state championships won in the last couple of weeks for Aurora prep teams is the Cherokee Trail boys volleyball team.

Coached by Terry Miller, the team with a mix of players from several Aurora schools and others in the Cherry Creek School District finished off an unbeaten season in Colorado Boys High School Volleyball Association play with straight set victories over Ponderosa and Ralston Valley on May 10.

The two victories in the championship tournament at Colorado Springs Christian School finished off a perfect 25-0 season for the Cougars.

“What a season!” said Miller, who coaches the Cherokee Trail girls team in the fall.

Cherokee Trail faced its toughest test in the semifinals, where it outlasted Ponderosa 26-24, 31-29 to set up a meeting with Ralston Valley.

The Mustangs didn’t have much left after defeating the other Aurora team in the field — coach Laura Dunston’s Regis Jesuit team — in the other semifinal and the Cougars rolled to a 25-12, 25-8 victory. The match was punctuated by a big kill from senior outside hitter Matt McLaren, a Grandview student who is headed to play men’s volleyball at Penn State.

Cherokee Trail’s roster included primarily volleyball players along with a sprinkling of multiple sport athletes such as Ryan Swan, who was a key member of the Overland boys basketball team that advanced to the Class 5A semifinals in the winter.

Faith Christian won the CBHSVA’s 3A state championship by defeating The Classical Academy.

Boys volleyball remains unsanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association, but holds out hope of inclusion in the governing body’s list of approved sports in the future.

— Courtney Oakes, Sports Editor