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Grandview grad Erica Denney transfers from NCAA champion Penn State to Denver volleyball team Aurora Prep

Grandview grad Erica Denney transfers from NCAA champion Penn State to Denver volleyball team

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.

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

PERRYBLOG: Ann Coulter teaches us, 'better hate than ever' Dave Perry: Preoccupations

PERRYBLOG: Ann Coulter teaches us, ‘better hate than ever’

I love conservative columnist Ann Coulter. If I read her latest rant and vehemently disagree, I know that: 1. I am still alive. 2. I’m still on the right track.

I read her blathering today about rescued Ebola doc Kent Brantly being nothing more than a thrill-seeking missionary who got what he deserved. Her argument is that we have enough poor, wretched heathens at home, why go shopping for more in a place like Africa? She figures Brantly is just a narcissistic cowboy who shot himself in the foot, running up a $2 million evac tab along the way. Brantly was tabbed a hero, trying to save people in Sierra Leon who contracted the Ebola Virus. He got the disease himself, nearly died and is now being treated in Atlanta, Georgia.

What do you know? I’m 1. Still alive, and 2. Still on the right track.

I didn’t wake up this morning thinking that I would be defending Christian missionaries. My objection to their work comes from a different tact. They tend to end up places in the world where people already have plenty of problems. They don’t need Christian-vs -Everyone-Wars on top of their plights. That’s another story.

This story is about Coulter being dead wrong, again.  I know first-hand there are plenty of Christian do-gooders that get into the business because they want to right wrongs and help miserable people be less miserable, here and all over the planet. These people have two things that Coulter doesn’t: charity and compassion. They aren’t charitable and compassionate because they’re Christians, they’re Christians because they’re charitable and compassionate. Whether they believe all or parts of the God and Jesus story, I’m really not sure. I am sure that they believe in what they get out of reading about God and Jesus. Rather than working hard to stone homosexuals and adulterers, fight against birth control, promote guns, warfare and their religion, they work to feed starving people, take care of the sick, build houses, bury the dead, stuff like that. I’ve known these people first hand. The Rev. Lucia Guzman, now a state senator, and Sister Michael Mary Eagen, Aurora and Denver’s champion of the poor, come to mind. Both women have been on the front lines of Christianity, and both women are giants when it comes to compassion and activism for humans who don’t have great jobs and summer homes. Narcissistic toads? Hardly. They’re both confident and relentless. They probably would even have something kind to say about Coulter.

I, however,  don’t. She’s a nasty pseudo-intellectual who gets her jollies riling up a bunch of backward, paranoid bigots and xenophobes. Coulter is one of those people who believes everything in the Universe falls into two categories: American and un-American. Poor people dying of horrible diseases outside of the United States are somehow different than those who are suffering in Texas. People like Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin see the world that way, too. But people like Brantly see Africans just as people. Just like us.

That’s a concept Coulter and her clan can’t wrap their heads around. She wants to know why Brantly doesn’t take care of problems at home first, pointing out that people here have abortions, children without being married, and die from prescription drug overdoses. Coulter is the kind of person who thinks that, somehow, cataclysms in a country where so many die from Ebola Virus and AIDS is comparable to what’s happening to people in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Whether they’re there in the name of Jesus, Sponge Bob or Doctors Without Borders, I’m glad guys like Brantly want to go to wretched places where calamities are happening, in hopes of making things better for the people living through those nightmares. Coulter would never listen to the likes of someone like me. Perhaps somewhere in history someone could speak to Coulter. Someone she could relate to.  Maybe she and Marie Antoinette might have cake and tea together and talk about what can happen when the little people are expected to be someone else’s problem.

— Editor Dave Perry

Welcome home Marla Keown

Welcome home

In between local news channel interviews, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Cpl. Matt Foster welcomes home his military war dog Mick at Denver International Airport.

The two served together in Afghanistan hunting down Improvised Explosive Devices.

Junior Hayden Smith records hole-in-one during Regis Jesuit boys golf tryouts Aurora Prep

Junior Hayden Smith records hole-in-one during Regis Jesuit boys golf tryouts

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

PICTURE THIS: Human simulation Marla Keown

PICTURE THIS: Human simulation

Got to check out one of many ways nurses get hands on training at Anschutz medical campus today!!!!

PICTURE THIS: Back to school Marla Keown

PICTURE THIS: Back to school

Rachel and I are working on a story about Aurora residents becoming US Citizens. Little did we know that we would become students ourselves.

Aurora Prep

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

PERRYBLOG: The Colorado Symphony Orchestra deserves a better home — in Aurora Dave Perry: Preoccupations

PERRYBLOG: The Colorado Symphony Orchestra deserves a better home — in Aurora

Here’s your big chance to hit the high note, Aurora. Ray Rinaldi of the Denver Post is reporting today that it looks like rumors about Denver wanting to oust the Colorado Symphony Orchestra from its home at the Boettcher Concert Hall at the Denver Center for Performing Arts looks are true. The Post reports that the leading idea for the space is to tear it down and build an outdoor amphitheater. The symphony would have to suck eggs or shack up with Opera Colorado and the Colorado Ballet at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

Sad. Very sad. Denver already has an outdoor amphitheater, Red Rocks. A smaller one at Civic Center Park is nothing to sneeze at. If the complaint is that the aging Boettcher Hall doesn’t get enough use, just wait until a Downtown Denver outdoor theater sits vacant 6-9 months a year.

Oh well. Their loss could be Aurora’s big gain. Here’s what we should do. Let’s build the CSO a new home right here. Right at City Center, where the new light-rail line will stop. We can show Colorado that Aurora has the class and classics and classes that Denver’s so anxious to snub. The beloved symphony is just getting started with plans to make what they do more accessible and available to everyone in the metro area. Realize, of course, that the minute the CSO moves into new Aurora digs, they bring with them Tier II status dollars from the Science and Cultural Facilities District. Funding, folks, real funding. In addition to that, the symphony has a loyal following that wants to see the CSO get the respect it deserves. This symphony is innovative, talented and world class. An Aurora center could underscore that instead of sniff at it.

That money and influence could help offset operating expenses for a cultural arts complex in Aurora that has a concert hall as its focal point, complete with other theaters studios and venues that permit a wide range of classical and contemporary concerts, theater, dance and comedy. The complex could house the Aurora History Museum and art studios or even a museum.

This is your chance, Aurora, to make good on decades of ignoring City Center and cultural facilities needs. The site is perfect for a facility like this. It’s near at RTD bus hub. It will be connected to the rest of the region’s RTD light-rail line, allowing easy light-rail access from everywhere. And the site at East Alameda and Sable Boulevard is minutes from Lowry and is easily accessible from I-225.

Best of all, an Aurora cultural arts facility with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra as the centerpiece would finally define what City Center, hundreds of prime acres, will be. Aurora and developers have been struggling to figure out just what to do with a giant chunk of valuable, empty real estate that’s going to have excellent commuter access and a light-rail line. This is it. Instead of a smattering of chain restaurants and ho-hum shops, Aurora can makes this an arts Mecca. This is where the metro area will come for their kids’ dance classes, choir practice, violin lessons. This is where endless summer camps are held and ballet recitals occur. The metro area spends hundreds of millions of dollars on the arts and arts education and everything associated with them. Aurora can parlay this site, some cash, its growing influence, a prime piece of real estate and the goodwill of thousands of CSO supporters into something its been missing for decades.

Don’t sneer. Just think about. The Aurora Center for Colorado Arts. Sounds good.

— Editor Dave Perry

Aurora Prep

Smoky Hill grad Chase Vaughn begins training camp with Denver Broncos

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

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

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

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

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

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes

Aurora Prep

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 CBS MAXPREPS CUP NATIONAL RANKINGS

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

— Sports Editor Courtney Oakes