Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Luke Feigal just might be one of the only Colorado prep athletes around who has played sports for three different high schools without transferring a single time.
Crazy as it may seem, the senior has worn the colors of his home school the Shining Mountain Lions, those of the Boulder Panthers and presently, the royal blue of the Dawson Mustangs.
After helping the Lions to an appearance in the Class 1A state basketball championship, he’s now doing his best to bring the Mustangs (9-3) into the conversation as a contender in Class 2A baseball.
Interestingly, were it not for an arm injury that kept him from playing spring ball last year, Feigal might have still been playing for the Panthers in the 5A Front Range League. But with a connection to Dawson in former youth league teammate Chris Slade, Feigal decided he wanted to join up with Dawson and was able to avoid any transfer penalties typically enforced by CHSAA.
“It was a great group of seniors as the core of the team over here, and I thought it was a pretty cool opportunity to do something with my final season,” said Feigal, who replaced baseball last year with a stint on Shining Mountain’s track and field team. “I just hoped to be able to add to that core of seniors that was already here, because I know they’ve been working hard for three years to get where they’re at.
“Anything I can do to help make this senior year great is something I want to do.”
From afar, he had been following Dawson’s progress over the past few years under longtime area coach Joe McKenzie. The Mustangs jumped from 3-11 to 7-12 in McKenzie’s first year (2014), and last year the team went 11-8 for its first winning season in a number of years.
Feigal didn’t know many of the other kids on the team, and the same could be said about the current Dawson contingent of Feigal. There was hope that because he had played at the 5A level — he also played Legion A ball with Diamond Baseball — that he’d be an on-base machine.
He has not disappointed. In 10 games, Feigal is carrying a .483 average with 12 RBI. Perhaps more importantly, he has added to the stable of pitchers that any small school would envy, going 4-0 with a 0.79 earned-run average over 26 innings pitched.
“We didn’t know what caliber of player he was, but I kind of thought his experience with better pitching was going to pay off,” said junior Seth Clemente. “We’ve been a team that’s struggled with having enough arms, but for us to get another quality arm out, a guy who can really dominate this level of baseball, it’s great.”
“He was free and clear to come over here and play, and we just thought, who knows, he may be the last piece of the puzzle,” said McKenzie. “We got him by chance, really. But it’s been great because with him and Tanner (Fulkerson), Chris (Slade) and Michael (Nannen), I’ve got four seniors I can throw out there on any given day. They’re all quality pitchers, and that’s a big difference than what we’ve had in the past.”
With the maturing of players such as Fulkerson, Max McClellan and Slade — and the emergence of sophomore Chase Fulkerson — the Mustangs have only one in-state loss. That came against No. 8 ranked Dayspring Christian, whom they’ll get a chance to play again on May 6.
While the schedule so far hasn’t exactly been formidable, Monday’s 8-3 win over Resurrection Christian was a huge hurdle for the team. To everyone’s recollection, it was the first time the program had claimed a win over the Cougars, a 2A power for years. Much like most of the rest of the season, all facets of the game came together.
“Every part of our game has gotten better in the years I’ve been here, and our general baseball IQ has increased and it just seems everything is coming together,” said Clemente, who leads the team in several batting categories including average (.649). “(McKenzie) has always encouraged us to get bigger and stronger, but a lot of everything he wanted out of us is coming. We have a positive outlook and feel like we can take on any team we want to. That has a lot to do with our coaches.”
“It’s taken three years to get to the point where they do a lot of things right, and I think they see the value in some of the things we’ve done at practices over the years,” McKenzie said. “It’s fun to be at the park with these guys. They’ve figured out they can play.”