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Year in Review: BoCoPreps.com’s New, Boles and Cochi share their favorite moments and stories of 2018-19

From glorious feats of achievement to revelations that explore the deepest of emotions, we had it all

Isaiah J. Downing / For BoCoPreps.com
Niwot’s girls cross country team poses with the 4A state championship trophy in Colorado Springs in October.
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It was a shade more than a week ago that Silver Creek baseball’s appearance in the Class 4A state championship game signified the last event of the 2018-19 prep calendar, and the Raptors’ runner-up finish also gave the area a total of 24 team trophies (11 team champions and 13 second-place team finishes). It seems like a remarkable amount — and when you throw in the 52 individual/relay state championships won between roughly 40 area athletes — it’s safe to say this season reminded us here at BoCoPreps we are pretty blessed to be able to cover some of Colorado’s best athletes.

With all that success, there are also stories that go beyond the playing surface and we came across quite a few deeply emotional subjects this season, as well. As could be expected, those stories can be tough to write, the interviews tough to hear a second and third time, the words not quite flowing off the keyboard as your typical Team-A-beats-Team-B game story. But there’s pride in being able to tell those stories, just the same if not more so.

So that’s why, with this debut list of a year-in-review piece that we plan on making a tradition, our writers Brad Cochi, Brent W. New and Brandon Boles were asked to share their favorite moments and stories from 2018-19. Whether it be a debut article for our team (New and Boles both joined us this season), an in-depth feature that has societal impact, or simply an individual achievement on the field that can only be described as jaw-dropping, the following are stories they said stuck out to them the most. All three writers have contributed a few words as to why, as well.

So here goes — hope you enjoy.

Brad’s top stories:

Girls wrestling gets one step closer to reality in Colorado

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Erie student and Mead wrestler Clarissa Batrez poses for a photo prior to practice on Friday at Mead. The Mavericks are hosting the St. Vrain Valley School District girls wrestling team this year — 2018-19 being an important one for the sport.

“It’s always exciting to help document the development of something unique and progressive. The drive to establish girls wrestling as an officially-sanctioned high school sport in Colorado provided both, and it was fascinating to learn about the sport’s history and the ever-growing group of people working hard to make it happen. Along with boys volleyball and unified bowling, CHSAA approved the sport at this year’s Legislative Council meeting.”

Aidan Atkinson’s record-setting game

“I’ve seen a lot of football games in a decade of covering prep sports but I haven’t covered anything quite like what Fairview’s Aidan Atkinson did at Recht Field on Sept. 27. In a 67-33 win over Legacy, the Northwestern-bound Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year threw for 687 yards and nine touchdowns, both of which were single-game records for 11-man high school football in Colorado.”

Skyline football’s run to the title game — Gamer and Podcast 

Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer
Skyline football had many reasons to celebrate in 2018.

“This was more than a single game or story, but rather a several-year stretch of following the Skyline football team while the Falcons fought the uphill battle of restoring a beleaguered program to its former glory. The Falcons won just two games a season between 2013-2015 but have gone 25-7 over the past three seasons and played in the 4A state championship game last fall. They didn’t win the title for the storybook ending they wanted, but it was fun to watch alumnus Mike Silva and the Falcons climb their way back up to the top.”

Longmont basketball’s near title defense

Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Longmont’s Calvin Seamons.

“There has been no shortage of special Longmont boys basketball players and teams to cover since I started at the Longmont Times-Call in 2011. But the group of seniors that recently graduated was possibly the most unique. The Trojans played an uncommonly team-oriented brand of basketball and nearly went undefeated, losing to Lewis-Palmer in the 4A title game. Over the past two seasons, the Trojans went 53-3 including a state championship in 2017-18.”

Niwot volleyball returns to title match

“This year’s Niwot volleyball team was one of the best I’ve covered, period. The Cougars had a special blend that included several Division-I recruits and plenty of top-to-bottom talent and rode that mix to their program’s first championship match in nearly 30 years. They lost to juggernaut Lewis-Palmer in the 4A title match, but the gravity of what they had accomplished was not lost on the Cougars.”

Brent’s top stories:

Longmont High School alum speaking up for sexual survivors

“Sydney Wetterstrom, a former volleyball player at Longmont, tells her story as a sexual assault survivor in hopes of helping other victims. She set up a group at the University of Michigan, where she attends and plays, to help survivors cope with these kinds of assaults. When she first told me her story, I admit, I was fearful. I’d called her for a breezy ‘Where are they Now’ piece, but quickly the goal changed to ‘Don’t screw anything up’. Every word and fact were gone over tirelessly in the next couple months. Hopefully my writing peered far into the background, so that her words and strength shined through. They were too important not to.”

Brotherhood and football: Diaz family and Justice are a match 

“At a school where students deal with issues ranging from home troubles, to past school concerns, to legal ones, you can find a story about two brothers, their love for football and each other. Mario played every game for his brother AJ, who couldn’t play contact sports because of a traumatic brain injury he suffered in a freak accident. I’m proud to say their story was recognized as the Best Sports Enterprise story (at) the Top of the Rockies (Excellence in Journalism Awards).”

Navigating the social media minefield

“What a fascinating platform athletes have today. The ability to boom their brand into mainstream with a few characters or pictures is incredible — and terrifying. Talking with athletic directors, coaches and sports information officials at the University of Colorado really gave me, and hopefully readers, an insight into the pros and cons of what high school athletes put online and the teaching that now goes on behind it. It’s also a good lesson for sports writers like myself, who tend to think their tweets are funnier than they are.”

Boys basketball: Klosters give Longmont a family feel 

“The boys’ basketball team at Longmont just came off a stinging loss in the state finals to Lewis-Palmer — a win would have made them back-to-back champs. In both win in 2018 and defeat in 2019, assistant coach Cade Kloster embraced his dad and boss. He told him how much love and respect he had for him. Yes, sports can often be strange, controversial, heated — and that’s just in the parents’ section in the bleachers. But often, it’s nothing but love.”

Girls cross country: Peak to Peak’s Quinn McConnell is BoCopreps.com runner of the year

Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Peak to Peak’s Quinn McConnell wrapped up an emotional 2018 with a third-place finish in the Class 3A state meet, but she also posted what was the eighth-fastest time in the nation at the Desert Twilight Festival in late September. She is the BoCoPreps.com runner of the year.

“When watching Fairview’s Aidan Atkinson sail a football so gloriously down the field or Broomfield’s soccer star Mallory Mooney dance around defenders so effortlessly, it can be easy to forget that life stretches far beyond the athletic playing field. The Peak to Peak community was rocked by the loss of runner Brandon Ries when he collapsed and died during a 5K race in 2016. Then again, when Quinn’s father Ed died from a heart dysrhythmia last year. Hearing Quinn and her mother and Ed’s wife, Kim, talk about loss can remind us about the hard-to-comprehend realities of life. Their strength to persevere, meanwhile, reminds us of the strength of the human spirit.”

Brandon’s top stories:

Drake Engelking wins second state title

“The state wrestling tournament is one of my favorite events of the high school season, and being able to watch Longmont’s Drake Engelking become the first multi-time state champion in school history was exciting. Perhaps the more memorable moment for me was watching his dislocated thumb get popped back in place in the tunnel before doing our post-match interview.”

Boys volleyball feature

Skyline’s Parker Steed, right, tips a ball over the net during a recent practice at the school.

“It was interesting to see what motivated some high school boys to try out this new sport, and the number of teams and athletes competing shows that the sport has a bright future in Boulder County. Hearing how the coaches have had to adapt their coaching style, going from girls who have played for years to boys who have little to no experience, was fascinating as well.”

Fairview, Monarch boys lacrosse game

“There were plenty of good rivalry games to check out this year. One that stands out was this lacrosse game. Fairview came back in the fourth quarter to defeat Monarch in a close game to secure a share of the conference title under the lights. I’m looking forward to more rivalries this upcoming season across all sports.”

Ryan Deakin All-American

“Former high school athletes that go on and succeed at the NCAA level is always special for the schools and readers in the area. I enjoyed getting to talk to Ryan Deakin after he became an NCAA All-American for Northwestern, which was the first time in his college career he achieved that.”

Hockey preview

“How can my first story written for BoCoPreps not make the list? It was a fun transition to the new job by talking to coach Jimmy Dexter and the Given brothers for a preview of the 2018-19 hockey season, especially since I had not covered hockey in my previous work. It was the start of a good season on the new job, I feel.”

Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Monarch coach Jimmy Dexter talks with his team during a practice Wednesday at the Sports Stable in Superior.