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Coal Ridge has highest win percentage in all of 3A Western Slope League

Coal Ridge Titan Shaye Snyder leaps to tip the ball over the net during last week's game against the Rifle Bears.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

The data simply speaks for itself.

Compare the winning percentages of all Garfield County high school sports programs for the 2020-2021 school year so far, you’ll find that Coal Ridge holds sway over everyone.

The Titans athletic program — in regards to volleyball, soccer, football and boys and girls basketball — currently boasts an overall 46-17 record. That’s 73%.



Now compare Coal Ridge’s 73% win-to-loss ratio with the rest of the 3A Western Slope League. Though Delta (38-20, 66%) comes in second, the Titans athletic department still can put the feather in their caps as having the highest win percentage.

It’s easy to ask yourself: What exactly is in the water supply between New Castle and Silt?



“I think that’s something that’s really changed in the last 4-5 years, are coaches truly supporting each other,” school dean and athletic director Ben Kirk said. “I think a lot of times coaches get in the mindset that their sport only matters. Instead, they’re actually recruiting their own kids to go out for other sports.”

In other words, if head boys basketball coach Paul Harvey notices one of his athletes has a high vertical, he’s encouraging that kid to go out for track.

Case in point, Coal Ridge’s spirit team has continued to dominate, winning three consecutive state titles over the past three years. To notch their state championship crown this year, they had the help of four varsity football players, as well as a disciplined regiment of workouts; trips to the weight room, agility and jump training were commonplace.

Not only are their win-to-loss ratios practically incomparable, but their spirit team also won the state tournament while three of their athletes have already signed collegiate letters of intent this year.

Three-sport phenom Taylor Wiescamp signed to play volleyball at Northeastern Junior College. Martin Simons signed to join Weber State’s track and field program as a high jumper. Phoebe Young prepares to take off to Saint Martin’s in Washington State, where she’ll pole vault.

Christian Vasquez, meanwhile, will be cheering next year for Arizona State University. Kirk also shared rumors of two additional Coal Ridge seniors who’ll maybe be competing at the collegiate level next year.

Assistant Coal Ridge volleyball coach Molly Morgan already has two children — former Coal Ridge athletes — go off to participate in college sports. Her son, Jacob Morgan, is now a Ralphie Handler at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her daughter, Kara Morgan, went on to play volleyball for the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. She transferred to CU, Boulder and is also now a Ralphie Handler.

Morgan attributed Coal Ridge’s significant win percentage to Kirk himself. Kirk helped develop their Captain’s Council program, where student-athletes are selected to help promote and better school programs.

“It’s just a great program too that facilitates and cultivates an environment for athletes and students to be better,” she said. “They also hold students accountable inside and outside the classroom. I just think Coal Ridge has an athletics program that my three, in particular, have learned so much from.”

Morgan’s third child, Coal Ridge sophomore Emma Morgan, participates in volleyball and track and field.

That’s not to say other Garfield County programs haven’t had student-athletes dab the pen in ink. Roaring Fork’s Maya Lindgren signed to play basketball at Iowa’s Coe College. Glenwood Springs High School senior swimmer Aeson Akins signed to swim for Augustana in South Dakota.

Not to mention, the school year isn’t over. There could be more collegiate contracts in the works for Garfield County schools.

Kirk also acknowledges that having a well-rounded athletic program manufactures a positive reflection on student character and grades, saying, “The expectations of grades, respect and decisions outside of the classroom are very high.”

“Character is more important than being a point guard; we’ve really bought into that as a staff,” Kirk said. “I think it’s paying off. The numbers make it look like at least we’re moving in the right direction.”

Of the 110 seniors currently at Coal Ridge, 22 (most of whom athletes) scored higher than 1,200 on their Scholastic Aptitude Test, Kirk said.

Though he’d like to see more students go out for athletics, this achievement is most important, Kirk said.

“There’s a lot of things that I think we’re doing well,” he said. “But we’re not perfect at it. I think we need to get better at some of those things. There’s still kids in our school that are extremely talented who are not going out for sports. Most importantly, I want to see our kids be extremely successful in whatever it is they want to do.”

“I want to continue to build those things,” he added. I want to make it better so our kids are just rock stars when they leave Coal Ridge.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@postindependent.com


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