Just about midway through the season, the action in the Longs Peak League has already been good and several local players are in the hunt for the league title.
With three out of seven total league matches in the books, Frederick junior Jake Chesler and Niwot junior Christopher Gunlikson are neck-and-neck chasing after the current leader, Northridge’s Traejan Andrews. Adding a more personal layer to their shared pursuit, Chesler and Gunlikson are quite close with one another despite going to rival schools.
So while each golfer is playing to win, he’s also rooting for the other on some level.
“I play with Chris just about every day during the summer so it’s nice to see both of us playing well,” Chesler said. “He’s playing well and I’ve played some solid golf so the first part of the season has gone really well. We’re just trying to chase down Traejan. I’m really comfortable with the rest of the courses we’re going to play so I’m feeling confident.”
Andrews, a junior, leads the league’s individual standings with an overall score of 215 through the first three conference tournaments of the season. Chesler, who placed 10th at state last season, is just behind him with a 220 and with a score of 221, Gunlikson, who as 45th at state in 2019, trails his summer golfing partner by just one stroke.
Not only does Frederick have a man in contention for the individual crown, the Warriors have won two of three matches and currently lead the overall team standings. Their combined 725 team total puts them just ahead of Riverdale Ridge, which has a team score of 729. After qualifying their first ever team for state last fall, returning players like Chesler and Cole Greff have helped the Warriors roll right into 2020 without missing a beat.
“The leadership of Jake being a two-time state qualifier and Cole, who has worked really hard over the summer, has really brought this program around,” Frederick coach Chris DeSantis said. “We’ve also had an emergence of some freshmen who have been really good. We’ve kind of just carried over what we were able to do last year into this year.”
Erie Tournament of Champions will have different name, feel in 2020
The Erie Tournament of Champions has become a staple of the Colorado softball season and each year, the premier tournament features not only the best of Colorado but also from other states.
This year’s elite early season tune-up won’t look much like it has in the past, however. For this unusual campaign, the TOC will even be renamed the 4A/5A Showdown. Regional powers like Oklahoma’s Broken Arrow and Union won’t be able to attend this year, the overall field will be smaller and spectators will be in low number because of COVID-19 and public health guidelines.
But that doesn’t mean the tournament won’t still be among the best of its kind this fall.
“The Oklahoma teams weren’t allowed to travel to play so they’re out of the competition for this year but we look forward to seeing them next year,” Erie head coach Vanessa Smith said. “The number of teams participating is also a big difference. We had to keep that at a manageable number considering all of our restrictions and guidelines from Boulder County Health.
“Obviously, a ton is different this year. Teams are doing the best they can to still play ball safely. I think it’s a positive that we still get to hold a tournament. The atmosphere will definitely be different with the spectator restrictions. But everyone is still playing ball and the tournament still has the best of the best of 4A/5A teams so the level of play will still be competitive and that’s what we were aiming to do.”
Mead, Frederick softball get off to hot starts
It became abundantly clear that the northern area could be a hotbed for softball this fall when the CHSAANow.com preseason rankings were released.
In Class 4A, Holy Family was No. 1, defending state champion Erie was No. 2, Silver Creek was No. 3 and Mead was No. 6. During the opening week of the season alone, there were more than 10 games played between two-10 teams and many of these squads were including.
Holy Family beat Erie and Silver Creek before losing to No. 5 Wheat Ridge in its next game. Mead beat Elizabeth and Windsor – an unranked team that also took down Silver Creek – before going on to beat Erie.
In fact, after such a flurry to high-level matchups, the Mead Mavericks are one of just two preseason top 10 teams that have taken the field and remain undefeated.
Frederick softball, which is typically a perennial state tournament team, was not on that preseason list but is still unbeaten at 4-0. Among the top players on this year’s Frederick team, freshman Makenzie Sais is top five in the state with 10 stolen bases in just four games.
Shantel Koester pitching well for Lyons
Throughout this unusual season that has been shortened to 16 regular-season games, every win or loss is a bit more important than it normally would be.
In her first two starts in 2020, Koester sports a 2.05 ERA over 13 2/3 innings. She has 11 strikeouts and just two walks. With Koester anchoring their pitching staff, the Lions are off to a 1-1 start and will need to her to continue pitching well if they hopes to catch fire and make a run at the state tournament.
Mead debuts new boys tennis program
In an effort to provide competitive opportunities for its athletes in fall sports that were postponed until the spring, Mead High School created a boys tennis program at the last minute prior to the start of the school year. It turned out to be a fantastic success and the Mavericks have hit the ground running.
On Thursday, Mead’s new athletic program played its inaugural match against Erie.