Girls basketball: JR Sagner takes over Mead program

Sagner coached last season at Alexander Dawson

Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer
JR Sagner will take over at Mead after coaching Dawson School last season.
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Mead High School announced that JR Sagner, the former girls basketball coach at Dawson School, will take over as the new head coach for the Mead girls basketball team next year. He replaces Vern Rathburn, who coached the team the previous three seasons.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” Sagner said. “(Mead) is a program that has great potential moving forward. Part of the input into it is that Mead is up and coming area with access to great athletes. I’m excited to get in there and grow the program.”

The move to take over the Mead program was not an easy one for Sagner having spent the past season at Dawson, where the Mustangs went 20-4 and came one win short of reaching the Class 2A state basketball tournament. The team is also expected to return the majority of the lineup and have the chance at another push to reach the state tournament next season, making the decision to leave even tougher.

“I loved Dawson,” Sagner said. “The staff was great and the girls were incredible. We were returning almost everybody and posed for a good season there.”

While Dawson may have a better chance to win more and make a better postseason run next year, the potential in Mead, coupled with being closer to the place where he lives, made the difference in Sagner taking over the new program.

“The thing that intrigued me was getting down where you can get in the middle school and build feeder teams for a long-term program,” Sagner said. “It was not an easy decision.”

Sagner’s first season as a head coach was successful and is something he will lean on taking over at Mead next year. What he feels will help him more, however, was his previous experience serving as an assistant basketball coach at Longmont High School, giving him a familiarity with the other teams in the area and the level of competition he will face at his new team.

On Wednesday, Sagner met with his team for the first time during the school’s lunch period to talk about the future of the program. The meeting added to his excitement with the new job, he said.

“It seems like a great group,” Sagner said. “They seemed excited and are already looking forward to basketball. They want to start open gyms tomorrow.”

Mead went 6-18 in the 2018-19 season and finished seventh in the Tri-Valley League standings with a 3-13 conference record. Despite injuries and tough run in the league, the Mavericks qualified for the Class 4A state basketball tournament and lost 57-43 to Cañon City in the first round. Sagner will potentially see a younger team with a big senior class leaving the program from last season.

The summer will be spent finding out more about his team and what style of play best fits for them. It will be a process for improvement, but Sagner remains optimistic about the direction of the program he will now lead next season.

“I think it’s a community with a ton of potential,” Sagner said. “The the sky is the limit.”