As the calendar has reached October, the regular season for the 2019 fall preps season is beginning to wind down.
Many sports are now in or just about to reach the postseason portion of the schedule. Other sports are in the thick of the conference season, a critical point for postseason qualification.
With each new season comes new stars who emerge to lead their teams. Some are newcomers to the varsity level and are having an immediate impact for their teams. Others are veterans who are stepping into bigger roles and leading the way with their new responsibilities.
These star players have many teams in the area turning in successful seasons and exceeding expectations that were put on themselves for this year. When the postseason comes, they could be a force to be reckoned with.
Before the postseason push begins for most of the teams, here is a look at some new faces who have become MVP caliber for their teams and are names to watch in the final month of the regular season.
Gabi Brown, Boulder (volleyball): Boulder has doubled its win total from last year and sits in the middle of the pack in the Front Range League standings, a huge difference from its 4-19 season that included just three league wins in 2018. A big part of that is defense, led by Brown. She is sixth in all of Colorado with 305 digs on the back row. Sitting 124 digs higher than anyone else in the FRL, Brown has turned into a defensive gem to help Boulder’s turnaround.
Riley Burridge, Dawson (boys tennis): Burridge missed last season for Dawson, but his return this fall for his senior year has been a special one. Burridge is undefeated in eight matches and has not dropped a set. With his play in the No. 1 singles spot, coupled with winning records in all other singles and doubles seeds, Dawson could be a team to watch at regionals and state. The Mustangs will play at the Centennial Courts in Greeley in the 4A Region 4 tournament this week.
Cassidy Chvatal and Jaelen Giron, Holy Family (softball): For those that had concerns over the Holy Family pitching staff coming into this season, consider that erased. Chvatal, who threw 36 innings last year, leads the team with 72 1/3 innings and a 2.15 earned run average. Giron, who threw just two innings last year, leads the team with a 1.94 ERA. Both are the top two in the Tri-Valley League in ERA and are in the top 10 in that same category in all of Class 4A, making the Tigers a favorite to defend its state title of a year ago.
Zach Crooks and Evan Huston, Erie (boys soccer): No player for the Erie boys soccer team scored more than five goals last year, but the goals are piling up for the team this year. Both Huston and Crooks are leading the way with eight goals each entering Wednesday. Crooks has scored in each game, including a hat trick versus Fort Morgan back on Sept. 25, and Huston had his own hat trick on Monday in a 9-0 win over Roosevelt. Erie is currently second in the Tri-Valley League standings.
Jake Green, Frederick (football): Green did it with his arm last year for Frederick with 891 passing yards, but his legs this year are making the difference. He’s rushed for 689 yards and eight touchdowns so far, including performances of 197 rushing yards against Erie, 156 against Littleton and 155 against Kennedy. Add in 10 touchdown passes, and he’s a big reason Frederick has been one of the top scoring offenses and off to a 5-0 start.
Kinsey Hall, Fairview (girls cross country): Hall was the fastest cross country runner returning for the Fairview girls this fall after finishing 26th at state with a time of 19:45.80. She appears destined for a top-10 finish this year for the Knights. At the Pat Patten Invitational, she finished in third place with a time of 18:51. Her current pace puts her in a position for one of the top times in Class 5A as it stands.
Cole Riters, Silver Creek (football): Silver Creek has improved in the win column from last year already and many players have improved in stats from last year to this season. One of those players is Riters, who has 25 receptions (four more than last year) for 299 yards and three touchdowns while also tallying 32 tackles (one more than last year) on defense. The Raptors are 3-2 heading into league play and are aiming for a postseason appearance after a tough 2018.
Savannah Slater, Niwot (gymnastics): Niwot is a younger team this year, and they are showing the future could be bright with the program. Specifically, freshman Savannah Slater has emerged as an athlete to watch this year and beyond for Niwot. She has posted some high scores throughout the year to provide some depth to the varsity roster this season. She has scored a 9.0 or higher multiple times on the beam this year and will help the other veterans when regionals get underway.
Abigail Stoops, Skyline (volleyball): Skyline continues to use an offense that spreads the wealth when it comes to kills at the net. This year, though, they are seeing much more coming from Stoops. After recording just 52 last season and serving as a complimentary piece in the offense, she has become the leader in kills with 72 entering the week. The Falcons won their first seven matches and have matched their win total from last year so far with eight. They are also challenging more teams in the Tri-Valley League so far.
James Thomas, Broomfield (boys cross country): Thomas was the lone runner to represent Broomfield in the boys cross country team at state, and his performance saw him slip many minds as he finished 66th with a time of 17:26.20. This year, he’s broken out as a top runner in Class 5A and is leading the Eagles again. In his last meet, the Pat Amato Classic in Northglenn, he finished in third place with a time of 15:49.54, putting him on pace to shatter his previous state times.