Familiar faces take over fall jobs for Cardinal athletics
Rick Van Vleet and Mark Jansen were familiar faces on the sidelines in the spring for Grand Valley athletics, but with the start of a new school year, the two head coaches have added to their responsibilities for the Cardinals as Van Vleet takes over the boy’s soccer team as head coach, while Jackson starts the fall as the new cross country coach in Parachute.
As Van Vleet and Jansen take on new roles this fall, head volleyball coach Dave Walck returns for another season, while Ken Dunham returns as the boys golf coach this fall.
Overall, the Cardinals have some impressive coaching stability for a high school athletic department. Despite having some coaching stability and familiarity, the Cardinals will have a lot of young talent across the board as graduation hit athletics hard this past season.
In volleyball, Grand Valley saw the departure of Kylyn Rigsby, Bailey Rowe, Tara Ruggles, Bryce Ettles, Lohgan McClung, Kali Jablonsky and Taylor Mills, while boys soccer saw Lionel Pena and Christian Vicencio depart.
Fortunately for cross country and boys soccer, both teams are exceptionally young and have some good, young talent to work with long term.
It could be a trying fall with a ton of ups and downs for Grand Valley athletics outside of football, but the reward down the line could be significant with the talent on hand.
Head Coach: Rick Van Vleet, first year
Last Season: 2-12-1 (2-7 3A Western Slope League)
Key Returners: Michael Kelly, Sr., D; Marco Rojas, Jr., GK; Eric Tabarez, Jr., FWD; Alex Quintanilla, Jr., D
Players to Watch: Wyatt Kuper, Sr., D; Luis Magallanes, So., MF; Angel Garcia, Jr., MF
Season Outlook: After serving as an assistant for the boys team last fall, Van Vleet takes over for former head coach Chris Walker. With some familiarity with the returning roster, expectations are high for this group of Cardinals, who have played together for awhile and have shown an uptick in leadership for a struggling program. “I actually expect more this year than last year,” Van Vleet said. “If this group can come together pretty well, I think we can be much better than last year. The leadership is much better this year, and guys have been working really hard all summer long. There’s a real excitement here with this group, and we can’t wait to get going.”
Head Coach: Dave Walck, 10th year
Last Season: 16-13 (6-3 3A Western Slope League), lost in 3A Region 3 bracket
Key Returners: Addyson Harper, Sr.; Katrina Knudson, Sr.; Layne Teter, Sr.
Players to Watch: Jordyn Pittman, So.; Allison Chardier, So
Season Outlook: After losing seven seniors from a team that reached the regional tournament for the fifth straight season, Grand Valley returns just three seniors this fall, highlighted by Addyson Harper, who returns from an injury suffered in the middle of last season. With Harper, Knudson and Teter back for one final year, as well as sophomores Jordyn Pittman and Allison Chardier, the Cardinals could go through a few growing pains early in the year before potentially hitting their stride in the middle of the year. “Anytime you have an experienced class graduate, you have an opportunity for other players to step up,” Walck said. “Although we lost a lot of talent, we still have high expectations internally. The kids are working hard and are open-minded about their games. Our goal is to peak towards the end of the year so that we can push for a spot in the regional tournament and compete for a spot at the state tournament.”
Head Coach: Mark Jansen, first year
Last Season: no runner qualified for the state meet
Key Returners: Laytham Magana, Sr.; Elisabeth Satterfield, Sr.; Cheryl Wilkie, So.; Blane McCormick, So.
Runners to Watch: David Chavez, So.; Jordyn Pittman, So.
Season Outlook: Laytham Magana and Elisabeth Satterfield return for one final go around with the Cardinals after a strong close to the season at the regional meet, where Magana placed 38th and Satterfield placed 66th. Along with the two strong seniors, sophomore Cheryl Wilkie is back for another run with Grand Valley, as the then-freshman placed 49th at the regional meet last fall and should be poised for an even better fall this time around. Joining the team is track sensation Jordyn Pittman, who set multiple school records in the spring for Grand Valley. She’ll bring her running ability to a team suddenly stocked with depth for first-year head coach Mark Jansen. With so much talent on hand, the Cardinals could see a few individuals earn berths to the state meet at the end of the season.
Head Coach: Ken Dunham
Last Season: no golfer qualified for the state tournament
Key Returners: Justin Smith, Sr.
Golfers to Watch: Zach Bradley, So.
Season Outlook: Four of the six golfers this fall for the Cardinals are freshmen who have never played the game before, so head coach Ken Dunham has his work cut out for him this year. Fortunately for Dunham, standout senior Justin Smith and sophomore Zach Bradley return for another year, so the duo can provide the four new freshmen with an example to follow. This fall though, Dunham is focusing on getting the freshmen to learn the game, have fun and prepare for the next few years.