The 2011-12 winter sports season was full of highlights and outstanding performances in the Longmont area.
Here’s a list of some of the winter’s standouts and a few to keep an eye on for next year.
FIVE WHO SHINED
HENRY SEBESTA: With the rash of injuries that hit the Cougars this year, the senior power forward shouldered the load in the post and on the boards. He averaged 19.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per game and led the Cougars to a first-round win in the 4A state tournament.
CLAY BUNKER: He was obsessed with a state title his senior reason, and Erie’s top wrestler nearly accomplished his goal. His only loss of the season came in the 4A state 152-pound final and earned him second place. He won 42 matches his final season with the Tigers.
NICK STAGER: Niwot’s top wrestler for the past few years, he capped his senior year by finishing third in the state in the loaded 138-pound Class 4A weight class. In his final go-around with the Cougars, Stager racked up 43 wins and lost just four times.
SILVER CREEK GIRLS BASKETBALL: Led by point guard Ana Gurau, the Raptors won 18 games this season and finished 11-3 to take third place in the 4A Northern. They earned a No. 4 seed in the state tournament after finishing with a losing record and a 3-11 conference mark last season.
LONGMONT BOYS BASKETBALL: The Trojans earned a No. 4 overall seed and an automatic berth into the second round of the 4A state tournament. A balanced group, the Trojans won nine of their last 11 games to finish second in the tough 4A Northern Conference.
FIVE WHO SURPRISED
NIWOT 200 FREESTYLE RELAY: The Cougars quartet took fifth place at the 4A girls state swim meet this year. The same group also took ninth in the 400 freestyle relay. Junior Zoie Jordan and sophomores Elise Cranny, Kylie Pillard and Hannah Driscoll are all coming back next season.
OLYA MARTIN: The Silver Creek sophomore took 14th in the 100 breaststroke at the 4A state meet in just her first season speed swimming. Before this year she was a synchronized swimmer.
MEAD BOYS AND GIRLS BASKETBALL: Led by senior Austin Hartley (17.8 ppg) and junior Kasey McKrola (13.2 ppg), both Mavericks hoops clubs qualified for the 3A state tournaments for the first time in the school’s short history. Not many teams expected such success from a second-year varsity program.
EMILY REMBERT: After averaging just 3.9 points per game last season, the Silver Creek sophomore came alive in the second half the year. She scored double digits in 10 of the Raptors’ final 12 games, including a career-best 24 points against rival Niwot.
ERIE GIRLS BASKETBALL: The Tigers felt teams around the state underestimated them after graduating star point guard Dallas Rohrbaugh after last season. They took that to heart and finished with a 9-5 conference record to make the playoffs.
FIVE TO WATCH
SKYLINE BOYS AND GIRLS BASKETBALL: With a second-year coach for the boys and a new coach for the girls, the Falcons nearly tripled their combined win totals from last season and both teams played in the 4A state tournament. After a few rough seasons, it appears the culture is changing around the Skyline High School basketball gym.
BRANDON WETSCH: The Erie sophomore finished fifth in 4A at 103 pounds last season. This year he moved up to 120 pounds and took fourth. Tigers head coach Steve Gratton certainly will have high expectations for Wetsch’s junior season.
NIWOT GIRLS SWIM TEAM: The young Cougars turned some heads when they wook 12th at the 4A state meet this year. Diver Ariel Mosier finished 11th and losing her will hurt, but aside from that the Cougars return the entirety of their team for next season.
LYONS BASKETBALL: Both the Lions boys and girls won district titles for the second season in a row. After proving what they did last year wasn’t a flash in a pan, the Lions’ basketball programs are building confidence for the future.
KYLE COUCH: The sophomore led the led the upstart Mavericks this season. Wrestling at 152 pounds this year, he took third at the 3A state tournament for the second consecutive season.