Coal Ridge athletics expects more of same this fall
Over the past five years or so, Coal Ridge fall athletics has become one of the more consistent programs in Garfield County, routinely churning out state playoff teams, especially in boy’s soccer and girl’s volleyball. A lot of that can be attested to head coaches Michael Mikalakis in soccer, and Aimee Gerber in volleyball. Both will return this fall for another year on the sidelines.
With consistency at the top in Mikalakis and Gerber, both programs should once again vie for state playoff appearances.
The big question mark this fall for the Titans is in cross country and boy’s golf, where the Titans break in a new coach in Dan Larsen (golf) and a number of new runners in cross country. However, both programs are loaded with talent, as boys’ golf sees a handful of juniors return from last season’s group, while cross country is young on paper, but has a few talented runners returning this fall.
If things break the right way once again for Coal Ridge, Titans supporters will be following their respective sports deep into the fall once again.
Head Coach: Michael Mikalakis, eighth year
Last Season: 13-3-1(7-1 3A Western Slope League) lost in second round of 3A state playoffs to Kent Denver, 1-0.
Key Returners: Kade Frees, Sr.; Gustavo Archila, Sr.
Players to Watch: Moises Contreras, So.; Jack Price, So.
Season Outlook: Coal Ridge sees eight key seniors graduate from last season’s state playoff team, but that’s nothing new to the Titans.
“We graduate talent every year, and we have kids that step up,” Mikalakis said. “I think it’s going to make us competitive in our league, which will be very tough. We’re a young team, but one with a lot of experience. We’re ready to take on the challenges that the season will bring.”
Coal Ridge opens the season Tuesday, Aug. 28 at Basalt.
Head Coach: Chris Ozminkowski, second year
Last Season: No runners qualified for the 3A state meet
Key Returners: Stephen Jones, Sr.; Erin Flaherty, Jr.
Runners to Watch: Aidan Boyd, So.; Libby Tharp, So.
Season Outlook: The Titans are very young this fall under Chris Ozminkowski, but there’s plenty of talent to work with, highlighted by Stephen Jones and Erin Flaherty. Despite not sending a runner to the state meet last season, the Titans should be able to get back on track this fall by sending a couple of runners to the 3A state meet.
Head Coach: Dan Larsen, first year
Last Season: no golfers qualified for the 3A state tournament
Key Returners: Austin Gerber, Jr.; Ryan Kotz, Jr.; Sean Mooney, Jr.;
Golfers to Watch: Cody Roberts, So.; Lance Fullenwider, So.
Season Outlook: Dan Larsen takes over for Greg Gortsema as the boy’s golf head coach this fall. Larsen is a familiar face in New Castle, as he serves as the baseball head coach in the spring. He takes on a new challenge this fall, but he inherits a talented group of golfers, albeit one that needs to continue to grow.
“I think more than anything, the boys need to improve in the short game,” Larsen said. “They can hit the driver well, but the short game needs improvement. They need to make better decisions off the tee, which will help them. It’s hard to have expectations because I don’t know the competition, but I look forward to seeing the boys play this year.
“Our returners are pretty steady, so we’ll push for some guys to make the state tournament. “
Head Coach: Aimee Gerber, fourth year
Last Season: 21-4 (9-0 3A Western Slope League) won the 3A WSL, lost to Middle Park in 3A Region 12 tournament final
Key Returners: Kenzie Crawford, Sr., S; Kara Morgan, Sr., OH; Taylor Wiescamp, So., MH; Alexa Wiescamp, Sr., OH; Lyanna Nevarez, Jr., MH/OH
Players to Watch: Phoebe Young, So.; Brecken Guccini, So.;
Season Outlook: Coming off of one of the best seasons in program history, the Titans turn to a young core ready to take the program to new heights this fall.
“We’re very excited about the prospects of this team, but I think we’re going to be up and down at times,” Gerber said. “Our defense will take a huge hit losing Emily [Wright] and Santana [Martinez], and with sophomores, we need to gain some experience back there quickly.”
Coal Ridge should be able to keep on rolling in league play, where they’re one of the top programs year after year. The Titans open the season Thursday, Aug. 30 at Middle Park.