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  • Top 10 Sports Stories of 2018

Top 10 Sports Stories of 2018

Wow what a year 2018 was as far as sports goes in Southeastern Colorado. The Independent expanded their sports coverage in August when John Contreras, long time Lamar Ledger sports reporter, came aboard. His mission was to cover the four small schools connecting Kiowa County to the south. And cover he did as Contreras is no stranger to preps sports nor the area.

Needless to say, the sports stories of 2018 were exciting and represented the best of what this part of the state has to offer in talented athletes and dedicated coaches. We covered state championships, astounding athletes, and legendary coaches.

There is a lot to be proud of in southeastern Colorado and the preps sports scene. So, sit back and take a little walk with the Independent as we make our way through the exciting sports year of 2018.

Note: These rankings are based on analytics from our webpage, facebook page, and google:

#10July 11, 2018 (tie)
SOUTHERN PLAINS 11U ALL-STAR coached by Joe Chadwick (Cheyenne Wells), Devin Dickey (Cheyenne Wells), and Dayne Eaton (Holly) all pictured in the back row.  Team members include: (Front row l-r) Spencer Uhland (Eads), Stockton Mitchek (Eads), Bryson States (Kit Carson), Shaine Winder (Eads), Adyn Hough (Eads) Middle row l-r: Devin Eaton (Holly), Case Nelson (Eads), Perry Chadwick (Cheyenne Wells), Truman King (Holly), Cael Nordyke (Holly), Zach Dickey (Cheyenne Wells)SOUTHERN PLAINS 11U ALL-STARS ENTERTAIN FANS THROUGH THREE TOURNAMENTS
By Betsy Barnett
The 11U 70s division of the Babe Ruth organization is a tough division that teaches future high school players how to play the game right. For an 11-year-old, the pitching rules and base distances make for a mighty big field for such young players. However, this year’s Southern Plains 11U All-Star team managed to figure out how to play this game while keeping fans entertained throughout three tournaments including two invitationals in Garden City and the state tournament hosted by Southeast Denver.

10U SOUTHERN PLAINS ALL-STAR team placed in the runner-up position at the 10U Babe Ruth Tournament in Elizabeth, Colorado over the weekend.  They will now advance to the 10U Midwest Regional Tournament in Harper, Kansas.  (Back row) Coach Scott Gyurman, Lexi Holdren, Aureonna Diaz, Evan Scheimer, Serenity Worley, Millie Giron, Tailee Johnson, Kennedy Gyurman, Coach Polly Gyurman, Coach Mike Lozano (front row) Bailey Sierra, Savanna Brown, Idaly Rodriguez, Graci Morlan, Aubry Carroll, Zoie Arnold-Kraft - Photo  Credit Polly GyurmanSOUTHERN PLAINS 10U SOFTBALL FINISHES SEASON IN MIDWEST REGIONALS

By Betsy Barnett
The Southern Plains 10U Softball All-Stars traveled to Harper, Kansas over the weekend to the site of the 2018 Babe Ruth Midwest Regional Softball finals. They were short-handed missing a couple of players but made the best of their opportunity by competing well against teams from Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri. When the sun had set on the tournament, Southern Plains had made plenty of noise defeating the Colorado state champions, a team that had beaten them in Denver, 21-3. They also came close to pulling a major upset on the host team.

– April 11, 2018
By Betsy Barnett
The United States Naval Academy (USNA) has a significant boxing history and has had organized boxing since the 1920s. One of the highlights of student activity at the Academy is Brigade Championships. Any midshipman can enter the Brigade Championship Tournament, and many do who are not members of the official team. This year the Naval Brigades of Midshipmen had the 77th annual Brigade Championships. Jeanette Steerman won the championships at the 147 lb. class as a Plebe. That win got her a number one seed at the National United States Collegiate Boxing tournament at West Point, New York this past weekend April 5, 6, and 7, 2018. She met up in the championship match against Janel Tracy from the USNA. The bout was a hard fought bout with two hard hitting, aggressive fighters that went the distance, but Jeanette came up a little short, losing by decision, 5-0, and taking second place.

#8 – June 6, 2018
Reese Barnett - 7 Year old Golf Spring Tour ChampionREESE BARNETT WINS U.S. KIDS GOLF SPRING TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
By Betsy Barnett
On Sunday, Reese Barnett, seven-year-old rising second grader at Eads Elementary, won the U.S. Kids Golf Spring Tour Championship in her age division at the King’s Deer Golf Club in Monument, Colorado shooting a 38 on the par 36 course. The 38 was the lowest score on the day in all divisions although her yardage is not as far as for the older players. For her efforts, she was named the Player of the Year for the Spring Tour and received a trophy and medal for the win.

– October 24, 2018
Manuel Gonzales and his former Granada PlayersCEREMONY TO BE HELD TO DEDICATE ‘MANUEL GONZALES FIELD”
By John Contreras
The Granada Sports Complex will be renamed “Manuel Gonzales Field” in honor of the longtime and legendary coach. Manual stepped down as the head coach of the Granada football program this season after 45 years at the helm. He remains on the sideline as an assistant coach under his oldest son and new head coach Junior Gonzales. ‘Coach G’ has been coaching since 1973 and he’s still going strong. He has coached football, basketball, baseball, and track for the Bobcats. In his 45 years he has guided an average of 900 players per sport. ‘Coach G’ directed his teams to eight state championships and also a number of state runner-up finishes. His teams captured three football state titles (1979, 1988, 2006), two boys basketball titles (1989, 1991) and three baseball crowns (1991, 1995, 2009). ‘Coach G’ was inducted into Colorado HS Coaches Hall of Fame in 2002; National HS Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame in 2006; Colorado Dugout Club Hall of Fame in 2009; and the Colorado High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2014.

#6 – May 23, 2018
By Betsy Barnett
“We did everything we could to bring home a championship, as every single race we ran was our best time---every single one.” That was the sentiment from Eads Head Track & Field coach Stephanie Bohlander about the fourth-place team finish her eight girls brought home from Jeffco Stadium in Denver over the weekend. The Eagles finished fourth scoring 52 points. Leading the girls’ team was the only senior on the team, Mariah Smith, who nailed a state record breaking 133’ 8” discus throw that elevated her to state champion status. NOTE: The next week Smith signed a NCAA commitment letter to throw at Division II Colorado State University-Pueblo on a track scholarship.

#5 – November 14, 2018
By Betsy Barnett
Before the championships on Saturday night there was a Parade of Champions that featured something very special. Coach Penny Isenbart was named Colorado’s Coach of the Year by CHSAA. Coach Isenbart has become one of the most iconic coaches in 1A Volleyball as since 1997 she has led the Kit Carson Wildcats to superior volleyball accolades and success. In this her 21st season she has an overall record of 408-149 including state championships in 2006, 2017 and now 2018; and two state runner-up finishes. On Saturday night she prepared for her fifth state championship game, most of them featuring her four daughters who have played for the Cats throughout their storied careers.

Trevor Randel on the stands with his 1st place medal and bracket - Photo Credit Rhonda Uhland#4 – February 21, 2018
By Rhonda Uhland
There comes a time in a young man’s life that the dream just might be within reach. The long practices, the cutting weight, and the dedication to the sport might just pay off. The blood, sweat, and yes, the tears, have been worth it. The struggle that you had to live through makes the dream that much more satisfying. TREVOR RANDEL lived his dream this weekend during the State Wrestling Tournament in Denver at the Pepsi Center. If you are familiar with the “new age”, Randel was trending on social media with all the posts, pictures, and video.

#3 – March 14, 2018
KIT CARSON WILDCATS ARE BACK-TO-BACK 1A STATE CHAMPIONS.  (front) Sedonia Isenbart, Torrie Randel, Allison Gekeler, Micayla Isenbart, Paige Johnson,  Jordyn Weeks, Tieler Randel, Faye Buttry, Payge Booker-Rady (back) Asst. Coach Amanda Dechant, Tess Johnson, Faith Johnson, Mercede Smith, Haley Johnson, Reyna Isenbart, Tess Hornung, Olivia Isenbart, McKenzie Smith, Cally Booker-Rady, Janae Voss, Coach Sara Crawford, Asst. Coach Mike CrawfordWILDCATS DEFEND THEIR 1A GIRLS’ BASKETBALL TITLE WITH BACK-2-BACK ACHIEVEMENT
By Betsy Barnett
They’ve done it again!
What started last year in a quest for a state championship for a group of girls from Kit Carson High School has now grown into three state championships within the span of three seasons. The Wildcat girls now hold the 2017 1A title in Volleyball and two state titles in Basketball after a dominating performance at this year’s Colorado 1A State Basketball Championships in Greeley and Loveland over the weekend. But perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that the seniors on this year’s Wildcat team, Micayla Isenbart and Paige Johnson, will forever more be known as the players who achieved an astounding 98-2 record throughout their four years of preps basketball.

#2 – November 14, 2018
The Kit Carson Lady Wildcats and their 1A State Volleyball Championship Trophy at  the Denver Coliseum - Photo Credit Bob Schecter‘NO REGRETS’ WAS THE THEME OF THE KIT CARSON BACK-2-BACK STATE CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM
By Betsy Barnett
For an athlete like Kit Carson’s 6’2 senior middle hitter Olivia Isenbart leaving the volleyball court with no regrets was strong on her mind during the final push by La Veta in the state championship game on Saturday night. Throughout the grueling 1A State Volleyball Tournament in Denver over the weekend the Kit Carson Lady Wildcats kept their sites set on the goal they had set back at the start of the summer. That collective goal was a second, a back-to-back, state championship. They were expected to win as they were loaded with perhaps the best senior class this part of the state has seen in many years.

#1 – December 19, 2018 (tie)
The Five-Time Lamar Holiday Basketball Tournament Champions - Kit Carson Lady Wildcats: (front all seniors) McKenzie Smith, Tess Hornung, Olivia Isenbart, Haley Johnson (back) Tieler Randel, Faith Johnson, Cally Booker-Rady, Stephanie Framel, Reyna Isenbart, Jordyn Weeks, Mercede Smith, Allison Gekeler, Faith ButtryLADY WILDCATS BREAK LAMAR HBT RECORD WITH 5TH CONSECUTIVE CHAMPIONSHIP
By Betsy Barnett
The dominance of the Kit Carson Girls’ program continued to be on display in the Lamar Community Building throughout last weekend as the Wildcats won an unprecedented fifth consecutive Holiday Basketball Championship --- an achievement never reached before. In a special coincidence, the boys’ champions, Holly (also Wildcats), won their fifth consecutive championship breaking a Holiday Tournament record.

The Holly Wildcats hold up 5s signifying their unprecedented fifth consecutive Lamar Holiday Tournament title.  Team members include (front) Michael Rushton, Erick Chaparro (back) Diego Tamayo, Juan Moreno, Jarett Rushton, Kobe Davis, Gus Dominguez, Austin Jensen, Brigden Parker, Omar Moreno, Jose Magallanes.HOLLY BOYS CLAIM RECORD 5th TITLE IN LAMAR HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT

By John Contreras
It was history in the making in this year’s 55th annual Lamar Holiday Basketball Tournament that concluded a three-day run from Dec. 13-15 at the Lamar Community Building in Lamar. The Kit Carson girls and the Holly boys became the first teams to capture an unprecedented fifth consecutive tournament titles in the long history of the prestigious tournament. The Holly boys (6-0) posted an impressive 67-35 win over the Springfield Longhorns (4-2) in their championship showdown.

In closing, it’s exciting to think about all the amazing sports stories we will be generating during 2019. Based on what we saw at the Lamar Holiday Basketball Tournament and the early performances of local wrestling teams like the County Line Rivals and Holly Wildcats, there may be the potential for even more athletic dominance in the year to come.


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