Top moments of the 2014-15 sports season

CHSAA state wrestling

(Kai Casey/

The 2014-15 sports season was jam-packed with memorable moments. There were buzzer-beaters (including full-court shots!), walk-offs, goal-line stands, clutch putts and even family reunions.

We saw all kinds of championship celebrations, including championship parades.

There were touchdowns, beam routines, and penalty kicks. There were ice bucket challenges. (Remember those?)

We've compiled a list of our favorite moments from 2014-15, in no particular order.

A national presence

Lewis-Palmer volleyball set the tone for the school year when the Rangers went unbeaten at 29-0 and claimed a second-straight Class 4A championship. In doing so, Lewis-Palmer captured national attention along the way, and was ultimately crowned national champion by MaxPreps.

"Winning a national title never entered our mind," Lewis-Palmer coach Susan Odenbaugh told MaxPreps.

More national attention soon followed.

Grandview girls soccer, the 5A champion, finished first in MaxPreps national spring rankings.

A few weeks later, Eaton baseball was named MaxPreps' small-school champion. The Reds captured 3A in the fall to win a state-best 11th championship.

The national attention didn't only extend to teams, though.

In May, Mountain Vista junior Mallory Pugh was named the national girls soccer player of the year by Gatorade.

Rye's hidden ball trick

It had already been a crazy day, with some history behind it. But it merely set the stage for one of the best endings all season.

Rye baseball had lost in the semifinals three consecutive years, and may have been feeling the weight of it on May 23.

The Thunderbolts, overwhelming favorites to win 2A this spring, trailed Hotchkiss 6-0 in the semifinals before rallying to take a lead just before a thunderstorm delayed the game and forced the teams to switch fields in the sixth inning. When they resumed, Rye pulled off a hidden-ball trick (video via KRDO) to seal its 9-8 semifinal win.

Rye pitcher Junior Ortiz faked throwing a ball away on a pickoff attempt, and his fielders reacted accordingly. The Hotchkiss runner took off toward third, but Ortiz was able to tag him out.

"We weren't real sure if it was going to work," Rye coach Stacey Graham said of the hidden-ball trick. "We practice it quite a bit and we ran it one time successfully, and it worked again. It's a tough play to do and the guys executed it real well."

Rye went on to win the 2A title later in the day after yet another rally.

Air Academy and Sand Creek set football records

(Via @AAHSAthletics on Twitter)

(Via @AAHSAthletics on Twitter)

We very nearly erased the football record book and started it over after Air Academy and Sand Creek met on the football field last September.

The two teams accounted for 130 total points, and countless records, in Sand Creek's 68-62 win. Included in the record performances were 553 yards and nine touchdowns rushing for Sand Creek's Daniel Quin, and 589 yards passing from Air Academy's Adam Brown.

In all, four records were set outright, and another 14 entries were made in the record book.

"At the end of the game, the kids were so tired, they could barely shake hands," Sand Creek coach Rod Baker said. "It was like a brotherhood between them, what they'd been through. It was an amazing event. The high school spirit was amazing tonight for both teams. And they just battled."

56-yard field goal to win in football playoffs

Ralston Valley, a No. 1 seed, was 3.4 seconds away from being the first major upset victim in the Class 5A football playoffs.

The Mustangs had one shot at advancing, and it was slim: A 56-yard field goal.

Yet Collin Root, a senior who had made just two field goals all year, put it through to send Ralston Valley on to the quarterfinals.

"With that kind of pressure," Ralston Valley coach Matt Loyd said afterward, "it's just an unbelievable kick."

6 OTs in hockey's semifinals

On and on and on they played. Through one overtime, the next, and the next and the next.

Cherry Creek and Dakota Ridge battled through six overtimes late into the night on March 5.

"We basically played — that was two games, right?" Dakota Ridge coach Alex Hines said after the game.

The Bruins ultimately won on Chris Nitchen's goal to clinch a spot in the championship game.

"There's no loser here," Cherry Creek coach Jeff Mielnicki said. "They played so hard. We had guys completely dehydrated, drinking whatever they could, but we somehow found a way."

Cherry Creek went on to win the state title two nights later — after three more overtimes.

The rash of OTs actually caused the hockey committee to change the overtime rules.

Chaparral, holding onto teammate's memory, wins Jazz title

Thousands of fans packed into the Denver Coliseum in early December to watch the state spirit championships. It's often a raucous affair. But when Chaparral's jazz team took to the stage, a hush fell across the arena.

Many knew Chaparral's story: Taylor Llewellyn, their friend and teammate, passed in October. The Wolverines' routine, narrated by Taylor's mother, honored her memory.

The routine itself was a powerful moment, eclipsed only by the announcement of the team's championship later on.

Jesse Reed wins fourth wrestling championship

Paonia senior Jesse Reed became the 18th four-time wrestling champion in state history in February when he won the 2A 126-pound championship.

"Before my match, all I could think about is, 'I'm one match away, I'm one match away from being up there with all the elites,'" Reed said. "It's an honor, it truly is."

Reed was also a member of Paonia's football team which won the 1A championship.

Never-ending spring rain finally ends

(Jenn Roberts-Uhlig/

A wet All-Star Park in Lakewood. (Jenn Roberts-Uhlig/

The spring championship season was disrupted in nearly every way imaginable by an unprecedented amount of bad weather.

The entire girls tennis tournament was forced to move dates, 5A girls golf only got one day of play in, baseball was delayed many multiple times, but ultimately, the rain and thunderstorms ceased long enough for play to complete.

In fact, the weather got so laughable that the 5A baseball championship was delayed by lightning in the seventh inning.

Cherry Creek and Valor Christian play epic 5A football championship

(Kevin Keyser/

(Kevin Keyser/

It was a heavy-weight fight, and it very much lived up to its expectations.

Cherry Creek and Valor Christian's matchup in the 5A football title left long lines of people waiting to get in. Once they did, they saw Cherry Creek win an epic 25-24 back-and-forth game.

The deciding moment? A two-point conversion with five minutes to play.

"It was a gamble," Cherry Creek coach Dave Logan said after the game, "and the kids made it work."

"I knew I could do it," said DJ Luke, who scored the conversion. "I just wanted to help my team win. It's the greatest feeling ever."

Standley Lake wins gymnastics title after program is nearly canceled

State gymnastics Standley Lake

Standley Lake won the 4A gymnastics championship last October. (Ryan Casey/

In January 2014, there was to be no more Standley Lake gymnastics program. Yet, come October, it was Standley Lake holding up the 4A championship trophy.


"Coming into this year, we only had three girls and so we just kept trying to get as many girls as we could to come out," Standley Lake coach Kristen Larrington said. "We have five seniors, one junior, and two freshman. So we fought. We wanted it from day one."

The Gators were led by Jordan Ireland, who finished second in the all-around competition.

"The fact that we even got enough girls to compete is still unbelievable," Ireland said. "Actually winning is even better."

Chaparral boys basketball wins 2OT game with four players

(Kevin Keyser/

Chaparral beat Denver East in an epic game in January. (Kevin Keyser/

In January, Chaparral and Denver East boys basketball met in a highly anticipated game.

The Wolverines would win in two overtimes — but only had four players at the end of the game.

"I don't think I've ever seen that," Chaparral coach Rob Johnson said the morning after the game. "There were so many crazy things that happened just to even go to that point."

The last Wolverine (Peter Wilson) fouled out with 25 seconds to play in the second overtime.

"I said, 'Peter, you cannot foul, we don't have any players left on the bench.' He goes in there and gets a foul," Johnson said, laughing.

Chaparral won 82-78.

Regis Jesuit's Kyle Goodwin wins fourth diving title

Regis Jesuit's Kyle Goodwin. (Cliff Lawson)

Regis Jesuit's Kyle Goodwin. (Cliff Lawson)

Kyle Goodwin was marked for stardom before he even began his high school career. By the time it was over? Well, he had accomplished more than any other male diver in state history.

Goodwin became the first-ever four-time champion in the event when he won the title in May.

"I came in looking to get that fourth title," Goodwin said. "It feels pretty good to come out on top for four years in a row."

800 records fall all over the place at state track

(Brock Laue/

Smoky Hill's Blake Yount. (Brock Laue/

A total of five classification records were set in the 800-meter run at this year's state track meet.

Included: The boys' all-classification record going down twice in 45 minutes.

Cheyenne Mountain's William Mayhew ran 1:50.74 to win the 4A event on May 15. That broke the record of 1:51.20, which was set by Smoky Hill's Blake Yount two weeks earlier.

"Records are meant to be broken," Mayhew said after his race.

That they are.

Less than an hour later, Yount went 1:50.59.

"Time means more to me," he said. "There's kids in other classifications, like Mayhew and (Lyons' Paul Roberts) — there are people who can race fast across the state. Time is a universal measurement to compare everyone."

Chatfield volleyball's stunning run at state

State volleyball generic Denver Coliseum

The Denver Coliseum, site of the state volleyball tournament. (Ryan Casey/

Chatfield volleyball didn't even host a region during the 2014 season. But the Chargers, a No. 17 seed, advanced out of their region to make the state field of 12.

Once there, Chatfield rallied from down 0-2 in its second match of pool play to force a tiebreaker against Eaglecrest and Cherry Creek, their poolmates.

The Chargers had to beat Cherry Creek in a winner-moves-on set (they did, 25-22), and then Eaglecrest (they did, 25-21) to reach the semfinals.

The crowd only kept buzzing when Chatfield beat Rampart 3-1 in those semifinals to advance to the title game — the lowest seed to ever do so. Ultimately, Grandview ended Chatfield's run there when the Wolves repeated as champion.

"I loved watching Chatfield progress through the tournament," said Grandview senior Haley McLaren. "They fought their way through."

"I couldn't be more proud of my team. They never gave up," Chatfield coach Stephanie Schick said. "The believe my girls have shown this day has been amazing and a memory forever."

Air Academy stuns Longmont in 4A boys basketball championship

Air Academy Longmont boys basketball

Air Academy won the 4A boys basketball title. (James Bradbury)

Longmont, for all intents and purposes, was the favorite to win the 4A boys basketball title this season. And, in fact, the Trojans rolled to a 27-0 record en route to the title game in March.

Yet Air Academy had some championship experience in their corner. Five players, including three cousins, had helped the Kadets win the 4A boys soccer title in the fall. And Air Academy jumped out to a 26-8 lead.

Longmont did rally, tying the game at 34 late in the third quarter. Ultimately, the two teams went to overtime, where Air Academy pulled out a 64-59 win.

"Most of us had already played in two state championships," said Air Academy star David Louthan. "I think it helped us stay more composed. We were used to the pressure."

Colorado Academy's streaks stretch in field hockey

Colorado Academy Palmer Ridge field hockey

Colorado Academy won yet another field hockey championship. (Ray Chen/

Colorado Academy won a third-straight field hockey championship last fall. In the process, the Mustangs extended their winning streak to 41 games, as well as an unbeaten streak to 52 (50-0-2).

Colorado Academy went 17-0-0 during the 2014 season, and outscored opponents 7-0 during the postseason.

"They're a damn good team," said Palmer Ridge coach Paul Lewis, whose team faced CA in the final.

Vail Mountain wins first 2A girls soccer title

(Ryan Casey/

Vail Mountain players await the 2A trophy. (Ryan Casey/

Girls soccer is growing in Colorado. That necessitated the creation of a fourth classification — 2A — this season.

Vail Mountain scored the game-winning goal with 3:25 remaining to beat Dawson School for the first-ever 2A girls soccer championship in May.

It wasn't only the first-ever 2A title contested. It was also the first girls championship of any kind for Vail Mountain.

"This has been a season of a lifetime," said Vail Mountain's Tess Johnson, who was later named 2A player of the year.

Broomfield girls basketball sends coach out on top

ThunderRidge Broomfield girls basketball

Broomfield players surround coach Mike Croell after winning the 5A title. (Kai Casey/

Mike Croell is an iconic girls basketball coach in Colorado. And what better sendoff for an icon than a title?

Broomfield beat ThunderRidge in March to claim the 5A crown, and give 20-year coach Croell another championship just before his retirement.

"It means so much," said Broomfield senior Brenna Fankell. "Being Croell's last year, we wanted to win it for him."

Aspen wins first-ever boys lacrosse championship

Aspen Valor Christian boys lacrosse

(Matt Mathewes/

It was a group of boys who started playing lacrosse together for the first time 10 years ago. According to their coach, Mike Goerne, "They were the first kids to have lacrosse sticks in Aspen."

In May, they became the first with a title, too.

Aspen beat Valor Christian 17-12 to win the 4A championship behind a barrage of early goals.

"They've been fighting for this the last 10 years," Goerne said. "This is the final piece."

Softball equipment for a cause

(Ryan Casey/

The Diamond Project, setup at state softball. (Ryan Casey/

Chaparral junior Emily Moore hatched a plan to donate softball equipment to less fortunate players in the Dominican Republic during the 2014 season.

The effort culminated at the state tournament, where Moore, her teammates, and her family, set up a booth to gather donations from across the state.

"I've never done anything like this," Moore said.

Ultimately, all kinds of bats, cleats, helmets, catcher's gear and softballs were sent down to the Dominican.

Freshmen win No. 1 singles in girls tennis

Fairview's Amber Chen returns the ball during the No. 1 singles final match at Gates Tennis Center. (Dan Mohrmann/

Fairview's Amber Shen. (Dan Mohrmann/

Two freshmen rose to the top of the girls tennis world this spring. Fairview's Amber Shen won No. 1 singles in 5A and Steamboat Springs' Tatum Burger did the same in 4A.

"Even now, I don't believe I won," Shen said after her match. "Even at match point I wasn't sure if I was going to win or not."

Said Steamboat Springs coach John Aragon of Burger: "She's like a little pitbull. She'll fight to the end."

Fossil Ridge boys swim wins title on a relay

5A boys swimming state Air Force Academy

(Ray Chen/

Late during the 5A boys swimming and diving championships in May, Fossil Ridge needed a win in the 200-yard freestyle relay to secure a title.

The Sabercats got just that, edging out Cherry Creek by one-hundredth of a second, and beating Regis Jesuit — the team they were battling for the title — by 17-hundredths of a second.

"We knew we needed to win one of the two free relays," Fossil Ridge coach Mark Morehouse said. "We didn't know which one, but what we knew is that we couldn't make a mistake."

Fossil Ridge's girls also won the 5A championship in the winter.