ARVADA — Laura Probst never won a state championship.
The 2002 graduate of Arvada West High School finished runner-up 11 times in state cross country and track individual races. However, 16 years after leaving Jeffco and after a stellar soccer career at Texas A&M University, Probst was inducted into the Jeffco Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday afternoon at the Arvada Center — along with Chris Peterson, Liz Armbrustmacher, Kevin Williams and Kent Waryan.
“It’s incredibly special. Part of the reason it was so unexpected,” said Probst, who is now a primary care doctor at a Veterans Hospital in Albuquerque, NM. “Being a student-athlete in Colorado and Jefferson County was such an important time in my life, but it seem so far in the past.”
Despite all the second-place finishes, Probst’s attitude was always positive.
“I think you have to remember why you are doing it and what it is all about,” said Probst, who won the coveted Freddie Joe Steinmark Award in 2002. “For me I was competing against myself. As long as I knew I gave my best and left it all out on the track I was satisfied.”
The Jefferson High School graduate might have been a little ahead of his time. The sharp-shooting basketball guard led the state in scoring his senior year in guiding the Saints to an appearance in the Final 4 of the state tournament.
Peterson’s youngest son —Lakewood High School graduate Kolton Peterson — broke the all-time Class 5A 3-point record just a few years ago. All the scoring Chris Peterson did in his time in the mid-1970s came without the 3-point line in existence.
“I thought it was going to be a roast at first,” Peterson said during his speech. “My boys were all sitting around last tonight and said I would probably be the first basketball player to go into the (Jeffco) Hall of Fame who never made a 3-point shot.”
Peterson went on to coach softball at Green Mountain, along with boys basketball at Arvada West.
This Evergreen High School graduate was apart of the volleyball juggernaut the Cougars build under coach Lo Hunter in the 1980s, which included a 182-match winning streak.
Armbrustmacher went on to play Indiana University before returning to Jeffco. She led Lakewood High School to a remarkable run starting in the late 1990s.
“All of us in this room understand the impact of sports and activities,” said Armbrustmacher, who is still a teacher at Lakewood. “The lessons learned and taught on the field, the court, the pitch, the diamond and the track that those lessons learned expand far more than the game.”
Williams was a seven-time state champion in cross country and track at D’Evelyn Junior/Senior High School. He still holds the Class 4A state record in the 3,200-meter run that he set his senior year in 2008 with a time of 9:06.27.
“Looking back at my athlete career a feel very lucky to have attended Jefferson County and D’Evelyn,” Williams wrote in a statement read by his high school track coach Micah Porter. “When I arrived at D’Evelyn in 7th-grade and I no idea I would become a distance runner and how big of a role that would play in my life.”
Williams went on to run at the University of Oklahoma from 2008-13 where he had three consecutive top-10 finishes at the NCAA Cross Country National Championships. He is currently the head cross country coach at North Texas University and assistant track coach for the Mean Green.
Waryan came to Jeffco in the mid-1970s. He was a teacher, coach and administrator at a number of schools before retiring a handful of years ago from the district. He spent his final years at Jeffco at the athletic director at Wheat Ridge and Lakewood before sharing duties with Kevin Land as the Executive Director of Athletics and Activities in Jeffco.
Jim Thyfault, current Executive Director of Athletics and Activities, said that Waryan served as a mentor to so many current athletic directors in Jeffco.
“The scoreboard is not the most important thing and communication,” Waryan said of the two valuable things his wife has taught him over the years.
Jeffco Athletics 2017-18 Awards
Athletes of the Year
Jeffco 5A Male: Ryan Marquez, Pomona
Jeffco 5A Female: Camilla Emsbo, Lakewood
Jeffco 4A Male: Adam Thistlewood, Golden
Jeffco 4A Female: Kristina Schreiber, Evergreen
Coaches of the Year
Jeffco 5A Coach of Male Sports: Jay Madden, Pomona
Jeffco 5A Coach of Female Sports: Tracey Boychuk, Pomona
Jeffco 4A Coach of Male Sports: Brian Kula, Valor Christian
Jeffco 4A Coach of Female Sports: Amy Bahl, Evergreen
Assistant Coaches of the Year
Jeffco 5A Asst. of Male Sports: Shane Fugita, Dakota Ridge
Jeffco 5A Asst. of Female Sports: Steve Hadley, Lakewood
Jeffco 4A Asst. of Male Sports: Brian Zehnder, Standley Lake
Jeffco 4A Asst. of Female Sports: Ali Meyers, Evergreen
Fred Steinmark Team Award
Jeffco 5A: Ralston Valley
Jeffco 4A: D’Evelyn
Paul Davis Sportsmanship Award
Jeffco 5A: Bear Creek
Jeffco 4A: Golden