Chloe Welch is the engine that drives Mesa Ridge girls basketball

Mesa Ridge girls basketball Chloe Welch

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

There is no doubt that Mesa Ridge's Chloe Welch excels at many things. She averages over 17 points, nearly 10 rebounds and six assists per game for the Grizzlies.

She stands out in the classroom. According to coach Jeff Beatty, she carries a 4.3 grade point average.

But what really sets her apart from the rest of the players that Beatty has either coached or seen this year, is that she's the best when it comes to rallying her teammates and getting the best out of them as much as she does herself.

"Chloe as a teammate is probably the best player I've ever had," Beatty said. "And I've been coaching for 18 years."

Currently sitting at No. 7 in the Class 4A girls basketball rankings, Mesa Ridge has a shot to claim its first state championship since 2014. An eighth-grader at the time, Welch wasn't paying that much attention to what was going on with the team.

She came in her first year understanding that the Grizzlies had just come off with a title win. But she didn't necessarily feel that it was her job to make sure the team stayed at that level.

"I didn't experience it and I didn't know any of the girls," Welch said. "Their state championship didn't motivate me, I was more focused on taking the team that I had and making it better."

As a freshman, she averaged about seven points per game. The focal point of the offense was still very much Kylee Shook. For two years, Beatty was fortunate enough to have a couple of the top players in the Colorado Springs area on the same roster.

"To have two of these back-to-back, no one else is going to get that kindness given to them," Beatty said.

With Shook now gone at Louisville, it has been Welch's team the last two years. For the 2016-17 season, she led the team in scoring, assists and steals.

The Grizzles advanced to the 4A quarterfinals before losing to Pueblo West. As she has developed over the years, she's had a general idea of the kind of player she wanted to be by the time she was a senior.

She feels like she fits that mold.

Mesa Ridge girls basketball Chloe Welch

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

"I've always been working to be who I am," Welch said. "It's kind of been expected. I've always expected to be at the level I am."

She doesn't say that with any carelessness. No matter the situation of any game, it's easy to see that every bit of success she's achieved has come through an elite level of work. That's what made her so appealing to college teams.

Although she's reached the level of play that she has aimed for, she knows that there is still a lot of improvement needed as she prepares to play at Davidson after she graduates.

"I need prepare a lot more for college," she said. "I need to get a lot stronger, I need to get my skill sets up and my shot a lot better."

She has time for everything to come together. And it's easy to simply throw out stats to show how strong of a basketball player she is, but it's another to watch her on the court.

From her defense to her ability to create shots for herself or any of her teammates, she certainly passes the eye test. Combined with her leadership abilities on and off the court, she's a kid that encourages Beatty to work all that much harder so he can send her off to college with a state championship ring.

"You always want that for your kids," Beatty said. "We have a lot of kids that can score. I think we're going to be a tough out."

With someone as talented as Welch on the floor, it will be tough for any time to send the Grizzlies packing when the state tournament starts in about a month.

And if there is anyone in 4A who doesn't know about Mesa Ridge's star guard, they will at that time.