Sentinel Blogs

Courtney Oakes

Sports Editor for the Aurora Sentinel, grand stands

International play will have to wait for Grandview basketball star Michaela Onyenwere Aurora Prep

International play will have to wait for Grandview basketball star Michaela Onyenwere

Michaela Onyenwere burst onto the basketball scene as a high school freshman, but her international debut will have to come in the future.

The supremely athletic 5-foot-11 forward from Grandview High School accomplished just about everything a young player could dream of in her first season of high school varsity basketball — setting the school record for scoring average in a season (18.7 ppg), winning a league championship and advancing to the Class 5A semifinals, making the All-Colorado team and winning Most Valuable Player of The Show all-star game played at Pepsi Center — but she was unable to crack the final roster of Team USA’s U17 World Championship Team.

Onyenwere was one of 153 prep players from across the country to attend the tryouts May 23-24 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, where 12 survivors would make up the roster of the USA U17 team, which is set to play in the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship tournament June 28-July 6 in the Czech Republic.

Just a few days after collecting four medals at the 5A state track meet, Onyenwere survived the initial cut when the field of 153 players was trimmed to 96 on May 24, but she was among the 26 players let go later in the day when the ranks dropped to 70. Those 70 included just two Colorado players — Kylee Shook of Mesa Ridge and Oliana Squires of Sand Creek — and neither moved on as the numbers shrank to 46 and then to 12.

The 2014 USA U17 World Championship Team will reassemble at the USOTC for training camp June 12-17, before the team departs on June 18 for training and an exhibition tournament in Nogent sur Seine, France, from June 20-22.

From France, the team will travel on June 23 to the Czech Republic for the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship that will be played June 28-July 6.

— Courtney Oakes, Sports Editor

Five Aurora girls golfers receive Paul McMullen scholarships Aurora Prep

Five Aurora girls golfers receive Paul McMullen scholarships

Five Aurora girls received the annual Paul McMullen Junior Golf Scholarship from the City of Aurora on Tuesday.

Two players who just wrapped up their final rounds at the 2014 Colorado Class 5A girls state golf championship — Rangeview’s Julia Kim and Cherokee Trail’s Faith Hope — were among the handful of players honored with the McMullen scholarship, which has been awarded by the city every year since 1989.

The McMullen scholarship is named for Paul McMullen, who spent more than 20 years in Aurora golf and created the Aurora Junior Golf Program. Winners of the scholarships — which typically run around $1,000 — are selected by the Golf Course Citizen’s Advisory Committee.

Kim’s Rangeview teammate, Danae Bushman, along with Eaglecrest’s Jenn Danaher and Smoky Hill’s Katie Jeddeloh rounded out the recipients, which were presented by Aurora Parks, Recreation and Open Space Director Tom Barrett May 20 at Murphy Creek G.C.

Kim, who is headed to the University of Illinois-Chicago, was a three-time 5A state qualifier and posted her best career finish Tuesday when she tied for 35th overall in the 84-golfer field after two rounds at Raccoon Creek G.C. Kim — also the East Metro Athletic Conference individual champion — lists Aurora Hills G.C. or Springhill G.C. as her home course.

Hope, a Colorado Christian University signee, qualified for her only 5A state tournament in 2014 as a senior and finished 39th overall. The All-Centennial League second teamer considers her home course either Saddle Rock G.C. or Murphy Creek G.C.

Bushman qualified for the 5A state tournament along with Kim as a sophomore in 2012, but missed out the past two seasons. Headed to Colorado State, Bushman considers Aurora Hills G.C. or Springhill G.C. as her home course.

Jeddeloh was the top player for Smoky Hill and finished one spot short of making second team All-Centennial League this season. The St. Olaf College-bound Jeddeloh plays out of Meadow Hills G.C.

Danaher, who attended Eaglecrest, is set to go to University of Northern Colorado. Saddle Rock G.C. is her home course.

— Courtney Oakes, Sports Editor

Regis Jesuit state champs wrap up season at Froehlicher-Toll All-State Game Aurora Prep

Regis Jesuit state champs wrap up season at Froehlicher-Toll All-State Game

With the Class 5A state championship still fresh in their minds, the Regis Jesuit boys lacrosse team puts the icing on the 2014 season with seven players and a coach deservedly selected for Thursday’s Class 5A Froehlicher-Toll All-State Game.

The Raiders — who knocked off Cherry Creek 14-7 last Saturday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High to finish the season 18-1 — have players set to suit up for both the Black and Gold teams for the 5A all-state game, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at All-City Stadium, where Regis Jesuit beat Arapahoe in the semifinals.

Senior defender Will Deines, juniors Ben Bechter (attack), Chase Konkel (midfield), Brett Quartuccio (goalie) and sophomore face-off specialist Alec Barnes represent the Raiders on the Black Team, while juniors Matt Soran (attack) and Chet Dunstan (midfield) will oppose them on the Gold Team. One of the Gold Team’s three coaches is Regis Jesuit’s Jim Soran.

Following the 5A game, a presentation of awards is scheduled for 7 p.m. Among those recognized will be 13 All-Americans, 6 Academic All-Americans, the Doc Stabler, Zach Hills and Colin Cassidy awards, the Ken Ranta Sportsmanship award, as well as the Coaches of the Year and Man of the Year.

The 4A all-state game at 7:30 p.m. wraps up the event.

2014 5A FROEHLICHER-TOLL ALL-STATE BOYS LACROSSE GAME ROSTERS

5A ALL-STARS — BLACK

Attack: No. 1 — Jaden Franklin, jr., Kent Denver; No. 2 — Alex Womack, sr., Mountain Vista; No. 3 — BEN BECHTER, jr., REGIS JESUIT; No. 4 — Connor May, jr., Fairview; No. 5 — Griffin Heller, sr., Denver East; No. 6 — Jacob Larsen, jr., Chatfield; No. 7 — Evan Baker, jr., Highlands Ranch; No. 8 — Brandon Jacobs, sr., Boulder

Midfield: No. 9 — Mike Morean, jr., Cherry Creek; No. 10 — CHASE KONKEL, jr., REGIS JESUIT; No. 11 — Zach Runberg, sr., Arapahoe; No. 12 — Evan Wong, sr., Highlands Ranch; No. 13 — Joey Matarazzo, sr., Kent Denver; No. 14 — Brian Hancock, jr., Mountain Vista; No. 15 — Brady Brehm, sr., Mullen; No. 16 — Sam Horning, sr., Palmer

Defense: No. 17 — Trevor Pratt, sr., Colorado Academy; No. 18 — WILL DEINES, sr., REGIS JESUIT; No. 19 — Dylan Johnson, jr., Cherry Creek; No. 20 — Sam Ell, jr., Mountain Vista; No. 21 — Zach Anderson, sr., Rock Canyon

Goalie: No. 22 — BRETT QUARTUCCIO, jr., REGIS JESUIT; No. 23 — Addison Christensen, sr., Cherry Creek

LSM: No. 24 — Kyle Pless, jr., Mountain Vista; No. 25 — Lucas Leyba, jr., Columbine

F/O: No. 26 — Broderick Vitale, jr., Cherry Creek; No. 27 — ALEC BARNES, soph., REGIS JESUIT

D-Midfield: No. 28 — Trevor Halmet, sr., Kent Denver

Coaches: Bryan Perry, Cherry Creek & Jake Herman, Mountain Vista

5A ALL-STARS — GOLD

Attack: No. 1 — Colton McCaffrey, sr., Valor Christian; No. 2 — Ryan Arthur, sr., Cherry Creek; No. 3 — MATT SORAN, jr., REGIS JESUIT; No. 4 — Anthony SanFilippo, sr., Columbine; No. 5 — Jack Thomas, sr., Colorado Academy; No. 6 — William Simonson, sr., Monarch

Midfield: No. 7 — Max Tuttle, jr., Castle View; No. 8 — Nick Philips, sr., Mullen; No. 9 — Colton Jackson, jr., Rock Canyon; No. 10 — Landon Kramer, jr., Columbine; No. 11 — Ryan Schneider, sr., Dakota Ridge; No. 12 — Keaton Komatz, soph., Heritage; No. 13 — Chad Kreuzer, soph., Monarch; No. 14 — TJ Florence, sr., Heritage; CHET DUNSTAN, jr., REGIS JESUIT

Defense: No. 15 — Sean Lavine, sr., Fairview; No. 16 — Jake Sawyer, sr., Denver East; No. 17 — Matt Goettleman, sr., Cherry Creek; No. 18 — Matt Pinto, sr., Kent Denver; No. 19 — Vito Leccesse, sr., Boulder; No. 20 — Ian Lewis, jr., Columbine; No. 21 — Blake Sandman, sr., ThunderRidge

Goalie: No. 22 — Marcus Stears, sr, Kent Denver; No. 23 — Jake Miller, soph., Columbine

LSM: No. 24 — Zack Yoshioko, sr., Cherry Creek; Sam Sweeney, sr., Colorado Academy

F/O: No. 25 — Joe Quatrochi, sr., Highlands Ranch; No. 26 — Dylan Compton, jr., Columbine;

D-Midfield: No. 27 — Larry Munson, sr., Columbine

Coaches: JIM SORAN, REGIS JESUIT & Matt Plitnick, Columbine & Randy Colley, Colorado Academy

— Courtney Oakes, Sports Editor

Smoky Hill grad Chase Vaughn gets shot with Broncos Aurora Prep

Smoky Hill grad Chase Vaughn gets shot with Broncos

Any transaction involving the Denver Broncos generates a lot of interest in Colorado, but one that came out Monday held particular interest locally.

Linebacker Chase Vaughn — a graduate of Aurora’s Smoky Hill High School — was among three players signed by the Broncos in moves that brought their roster to the maximum of 90 players.

The 6-foot-2, 248-pound Vaughn participated as a tryout player in Denver’s rookie minicamp last week and joined the roster along with safety Charles Mitchell and wide receiver Greg Hardin.

Vaughn — who excels in rushing the passer — hopes to catch on with the Broncos after sticking to football and paying his dues at a variety of other levels, 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).

Vaughn played defensive end and tight end at Smoky Hill, which has gone through some lean years in football in the recent past, and graduated in 2006 and signed with Adams State, where he played for two years. He moved on to Colorado State-Pueblo and racked up 10.5 sacks in the 2008 season, which included a school record 4.5 in one game, and was an honorable mention Division II All-American selection. He added five more sacks as a senior in 2009 — setting the program’s career sack record — and finished at the school in 2011 with his degree in exercise science.

— Courtney Oakes, Sports Editor

Runner Devundrick Walker bleeds Gateway orange; signs with Colorado State-Pueblo Aurora Prep

Runner Devundrick Walker bleeds Gateway orange; signs with Colorado State-Pueblo

Devundrick Walker oozes with pride for Gateway High School, but he can’t wait to pull on another school’s jersey.

That school will be Colorado State-Pueblo, which is not only giving the Olys’ standout middle distance runner a chance to continue to compete, but also the chance to get a college degree, which wasn’t always a certainty for him.

Popular and prideful in his school, Walker signed his national athletic letter of intent with the ThunderWolves Monday in Gateway’s Upper Commons, which were crowded with fellow students, faculty, coaches and family up from Texas.

“Two years ago, I didn’t even know if I was going to go to college,” Walker said. “It’s a big change, but I’m ready. I really cannot wait.”

Walker graduates on Tuesday afternoon, just three days after he competed in his final prep race, the 800 meter run at the Class 5A state track meet at Jefferson County Stadium.

The runner-up in the race in 2013, Walker got boxed in early and could never make the move he wanted to make. He watched from behind as Denver East’s Cerake Geberkidane and Smoky Hill’s Blake Yount battled it out for the championship in a photo finish that went to Geberkidane by 0.02 of a second. Walker came across the finish line 10th.

Walker is looking forward to representing Colorado State-Pueblo and running against others in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference — which he’s researched thoroughly already — though he knows he’ll have to do some things he didn’t do it high school, namely regular weight lifting, which he hasn’t done since his sophomore year. But he knows it will help him get better.

“I just can’t wait to get faster,” said Walker, who expects to run middle distance events. “It’s training for track all year, which is very exciting.”

Walker plans to go into college as a general exercise science major and hopes to minor in coaching. He’s also developed an interest in kinesiology and may take advantage of some of CSU-Pueblo’s exercise science programs that have the chance to work with athletes at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

But to move on means never competing with the Gateway “G” on his chest anymore, which makes the next chapter somewhat bittersweet for him.

“I love Gateway so much, I really do,” he said. “We’ve won here, we’ve lost here, but it’s just an honor. I love Gateway whether I’m doing well or not, it doesn’t matter. I’m definitely coming back.”

— Courtney Oakes, Sports Editor

Eaglecrest grad Aubrey Mable, Bryant softball headed to NCAA tournament Aurora Prep

Eaglecrest grad Aubrey Mable, Bryant softball headed to NCAA tournament

Aubrey Mable put everything she had into her athletic career at Eaglecrest High School and she’s done the same in four years with the Bryant University softball team.

The former Raptors star and one the best all-around athletes in school history graduated in 2010 and headed to Bryant — located in Smithfield, R.I. — where she joined the program in the early stages as it transitioned up from Division II to Division I.

Now, four years later, Mable and the Bulldogs are headed to the NCAA softball tournament for the first time after winning the Northeast Conference Championship on May 10 with a 5-3 win over LIU Brooklyn. Mable, a senior shortstop, made the All-NEC tournament team as Bryant grabbed an automatic berth by winning the conference tournament. The result made her feel even better about her choice of schools.

“I knew I would be able to play an instrumental role in a team that had a huge opportunity in front of them in that transition from D-II to D-I,” Mable told ESPN of her decision to go to Bryant. “Being able to look back and say I made the right decision and that I am a part of the history that’s been made here this spring is something that is very special to me and special to this entire team.”

When the NCAA tournament field was released Saturday night, Bryant (32-30) ended up in the Norman (Okla.) Regional scheduled for May 16-18, where it will face seventh-seeded and defending national champion Oklahoma (45-10). Hofstra (33-13) and Texas A&M (35-20) round out the regional field.

Mable, a communications major, has been a big driving force behind Bryant’s success this season. In 52 games, she’s second among regulars in batting average (.342) and has racked up 52 hits, including 13 doubles, a triple and eight home runs.

At Eaglecrest, Mable was a three-time All-City first team selection for the Aurora Sentinel and had an outstanding senior season, as she played nearly flawless defense at shortstop, hit .516, stole 21 bases and scored 40 times in helping the Raptors win the Centennial League championship. She also lettered and captained the girls basketball and girls golf teams at the school.

— Courtney Oakes, Sports Editor

Boys volleyball serves up arguments for sanctioning Aurora Prep

Boys volleyball serves up arguments for sanctioning

It may be fighting a losing battle to become a sanctioned sport, but boys volleyball is beginning to thrive in Colorado and building an argument.

Girls volleyball is sanctioned by the Colorado High School Activities Association and is played during the fall, while boys volleyball and rugby operate in a club format for the time being as Title IX complications — which have to do with level participation numbers for boys and girls sports — and other obstacles exist to its inclusion.

Terry Miller, who coaches the Cherokee Trail girls volleyball team in the fall and helms the Cherokee Trail boys co-op team, has long hoped to get the sport sanctioned. The game is fairly low-cost and uses the same equipment that exists for the girls season, while teams are used to odd practice times that wouldn’t conflict with other sports in school gymnasiums.

“I don’t know when or if it would ever get sanctioned by CHSAA; it’s kindof disappointing because there are a lot of guys who would come out and play and a lot of fans that would come out and watch and see what it’s like,” Miller said. “When I was playing in high school at a club level years and years ago, we were trying to get it sanctioned, but it was like running into a brick wall…I’d like it to be.

“If you’re looking at increasing participation for athletes in the state, not just girls, what better opportunity for boys to play another sport that isn’t necessarily a mainstream sport that is relatively inexpensive.”

A growing number of boys club volleyball teams exist for a variety of ages, while high school players can play in the Colorado Boys High School Volleyball Association.

The organizations state tournament is this upcoming weekend at Colorado Springs Christian School, and Miller’s team from Cherokee Trail — a mix of players from several Aurora high schools — is 22-0 and coming off winning its regional championship on May 2 at Grandview High School.

The Cherokee Trail team is led by senior outside hitter Matt McLaren, who is headed to play men’s volleyball at Penn State University after redshirting for a year. McLaren is the older brother of Haley McLaren, one of the key players on Grandview’s 5A state championship-winning girls team in the fall.

“I started talking to Penn State my sophomore year and verbally committed last summer to go out this next year,” McLaren said. “I could be on scholarship the next year after I redshirt, but you never know.”

Before he heads off to play in college, McLaren — who plays for a boys club team at Front Range — is eager to finish out the season with the Cherokee Trail team.

A new addition to the Cherokee Trail team this season is junior Ryan Swan, a move-in from Utah before the school year who was a standout with the Overland boys basketball team that made it to the 5A Final Four.

“Our team is all around; we thrive on offense, but we have a lot of kids who can hit,” McLaren said. “We’re like a family.”

Regis Jesuit has been a boys volleyball power for quite awhile under coach Laura Dunston, who also heads the girls team in the fall.

The Raiders beat University and Doherty to win their regional going into state.

Aurora Prep

Grandview’s Coach Greg Maestas gets lifetime achievement kudos

Aurora wrestling fixture Greg Maestas is set to receive an honor from the Colorado Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

At the organization’s 16th annual Hall of Fame Honors banquet on Saturday at the Marriott Hotel in Colorado Springs, the veteran Grandview High School wrestling coach will be one of seven recipients of the Lifetime Service to Wrestling award.

Maestas coach at Overland from 1988-1992 before moving over to Grandview when the school opened. His coaching resume includes 16 league or regional team championships, 10 top-five finishes at the state wrestling tournament and a total of 195 state qualifiers. Additionally, Maestas has coached nine high school All-Americans, 13 state champions, 84 state place winners and two national champions.

In addition to his work with his team, Maestas is active with the Colorado High School Coaches Association, the National Wrestling Coaches Association and USA Wrestling.

Joining Maestas in receiving the Lifetime Service awards are Bill Bragg, David DeGiacomo, Mickey DeRock, Harlan Hankins, Art Martinez and Harvey Starbuck.

Another Grandview coach will be honored at the banquet, as Ben Menzor was selected Youth coach of the year.

Menzor — who wrestled on Maestas’ team for two years in high school — has coached the school’s youth wrestling team for over six years and led it to top-five finishes at the Colorado Youth All-State Tournament five times.

Honorees get their names on the wall at the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Okla.

COLORADO CHAPTER FOR NATIONAL WRESTLING HOF AWARDS

Youth coach of year: BEN MENZOR, GRANDVIEW

High school coach of year: Mike Caciari, Valley High School

College coach of year: Chuck Pipher, Colorado Mesa University

High school wrestler of year: P.T. Garcia, Bear Creek High School

Youth wrestler of year: Josiah Rider

Wrestling officials of the year: Ryun Mendoza and L.D. Powell

Wrestling media award: Tim Yount, On the Mat

Dave DeGiacomo Award: Steve Valdez

Special Merit Award: Kevin Bracken “Impact on success of Youth Wrestling at all Levels.”

— Courtney Oakes, sports editor

Courtney Oakes

OAKES: Former Regis Jesuit star Josh Perkins to play for national title in NYC

While the Regis Jesuit girls basketball team got denied the chance to play in the prestigious DICK’S Sporting Goods High School National Tournament by a Colorado High School Activities Association bylaw, Josh Perkins did not.

The former Regis Jesuit boys hoops star — who played three seasons with the Raiders, but moved to West Virginia for his senior season — plays for a Huntington-St. Joseph Prep team that is among the eight boys teams that have accepted invitations to play in the April 3-5 tournament to be played at Madison Square Garden and other venues in New York City and televised on ESPN.

Perkins — a Gonzaga signee — averages 8.0 points and 5.1 assists per game for Huntington Prep, which is 27-4 and ranked No. 5 in USA Today’s Super 25 rankings.

Huntington Prep had been kept out of the national tournament in years past because it wasn’t a member of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission, but a bill sent through the West Virginia Senate Education Committee helped make it possible this year according to the Huntington (W.Va.) Herald-Dispatch.

The other seven schools in the DICK’s tournament are also ranked by USA Today: No. 1 Montverde (Fla.) Academy; No. 3 Rainier Beach (Seattle); No. 4 Northside Christian Academy (Charlotte); No. 6 La Lumiere, La Porte, Ind.; No. 7 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.); No. 8 Findlay College Prep, Henderson, Nev.; and No. 18 The Sagemont School (Weston, Fla.).

Without the Regis Jesuit girls, the four-team DICK’s tournament field includes two ranked teams in No. 10 Riverdale (Upper Marlboro, Md.) and No. 18 Miami Senior (Fla.), plus unranked Freemont (Utah) and Edgewater (Orlando, Fla.).

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

Boys Basketball

OAKES: Keenon Clement gets one for family against Ken Shaw

Smoky Hill boys basketball coach Keenon Clement loves to call his father, Royce, on his way home from a game to talk about how his team did that night.

Clement knew his dad would be particularly glad to hear about what happened Saturday, as his seventh-seeded Buffs upset second-seeded Regis Jesuit 47-46 in a Class 5A second round state playoff game on senior Unwana Ekiko’s buzzer-beating layup.

Of particular note for the family is the fact Keenon got the better of a Raiders team coached by Ken Shaw, who played for Merino against a Bayfield team Royce Clement played on in the 1970 Class A state championship game. Shaw and Merino won the state title 68-52 that year.

“Ken Shaw is a legend and a great guy; what’s pretty awesome is my dad played him in 1970 for the state championship when he was with Merino,” Keenon Clement said. “I’m going to call my pops. He said he’s going to come over for the last game. He didn’t come for this one, he had confidence our kids would win, so we’ll have to catch up with him later.”

Royce Clement — who lives in Palisade, where he served as an assistant on Keenon’s staff when he coached there — is expected to attend the Great 8 round on March 7 at the Denver Coliseum if Smoky Hill can get past Arapahoe in its Sweet 16 game Wednesday.

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