PEACH VALLEY – So how was your weekend, Paige Ryan?
“It was a long, long weekend,” Ryan, a Coal Ridge High School senior, said on Monday with a smile. “It’s probably the longest weekend I’ve ever had.”
That could easily be interpreted in different ways. Ryan had great success at the Class 3A Western Slope Championships in Grand Junction and on the soccer field, where she scored three goals during the Titans’ 4-0 victory against Grand Valley in the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs.
In between those triumphs, though, a freak medical incident had her coaches and her teammates concerned for her overall well-being.
“That was just really random,” Coal Ridge girls soccer coach Micah Herron said. “But she’s such an extreme competitor, and she rose above it. As a coach, that’s what you love to see.”
There’s been nothing random, however, about the kind of success that Ryan has had this season. She’s scored 29 goals this year, which is tied for sixth place among Colorado soccer players in all classifications. She also won the 400 meters during Saturday’s league meet and, the day before, broke her own personal-best and classification-best mark in the long jump with a leap of 17 feet, 9 inches.
She’ll take all of those accomplishments into yet another big week for Coal Ridge, starting with today’s Class 3A girls soccer quarterfinals between the sixth-seeded Titans (16-1-0) and third-seeded St. Mary’s (14-1-1) at the Grace Center for Athletics in Colorado Springs. Game time is set for 7 p.m. today.
Ryan is one of nine student-athletes at Coal Ridge who runs track and plays girls soccer. Her big event during Friday’s league meet at Stoker Stadium was the long jump, an event she never even participated in until three meets into the track season.
“I’ll admit,” Ryan said, sheepishly, “I actually tried the long jump as a joke.”
Her marks this year are no laughing matter, though. Along with running her other primary events like the 200 and 400, Ryan has set a school record in the long jump three separate times. Her closest competitor this year has been Roaring Fork senior Taila Howe, who has consistently improved on her way to a personal-best mark of 17-6 ¼.
Ryan, after popping off her long-jump mark on May 9, rode with her mom, Jennifer, and some of her teammates to Coal Ridge High for the Titans’ first-round playoff soccer game. But as soon they arrived at the field, Ryan collapsed in pain upon leaving her car.
She was rushed to Grand River Hospital in Rifle, where doctors discovered that a cyst on one of her ovaries had burst. Doctors, however, simply prescribed pain medicine and immediately cleared her to play in Friday’s first-round game, saying that she would be OK as long as she could deal with the pain.
Herron decided to hold her out of the first-round game, where Coal Ridge defeated The Pinnacle, 3-1. On Saturday, however, she won the 400 in 58.83 seconds — the second-fastest time in Class 3A according to results posted on www.co.milesplit.com — and returned to Peach Valley that afternoon to net a hat trick in the Titans’ 4-0 second-round victory over rival Grand Valley.
And on Sunday, Paige Ryan slept. All day.
“We must have had 30 people over at our house for Mother’s Day,” Jennifer Charboneau said. “They kept asking me, ‘Where’s Paige?’ I went and checked on her in her room, and she was passed out.”
For Ryan, however, this week of track and soccer might be her last. She’s enrolled at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction for the coming fall semester, but she said that, right now, she has no interest in playing sports at the next level.
She admits that she hasn’t completely ruled out the possibility, though, and she’s had plenty of people who have tried to convince her to keep playing sports. Among them is Coal Ridge track and field coach Ben Kirk, who was quick to point out that Ryan, right now, would be the No. 2 long jumper at Mesa behind junior Whitney Rowe, who went 19-5 ¾ during the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships earlier this month.
Kirk, however, said he’ll respect whatever decision Ryan makes. And until then, Ryan hopes to make just a few more lasting memories, leaving those around her with positive memories of her and the teammates she accomplished so much with.
“I’d like to be remembered as the girl who did it all with her friends,” Ryan said. “Not just by myself. I did it with the friends I’ve grown up with. Our group doesn’t set limitations for ourselves. If we want something, than we’ll do it. You can never do enough, and if you have the opportunity to do something, you take it while you can.”
“You can never do enough, and if you have the opportunity to do something, you take it while you can.”
Coal Ridge High senior