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Rifle feels it’s on track for spring success

Jon Mitchell
jmitchell@postindependent.com
Rifle High School senior Bailey Hoffmeister fires to the plate during the Bears' nonleague game at Deerfield Park against Hotchkiss on Monday. Hoffmeister will be one of several Rifle players relied upon for the team's success this season.
Jon Mitchell/Citizen Telegram |

RIFLE HIGH SCHOOL

BASEBALL

Head coach — Troy Phillips (19th season).

Last season — 13-7 overall, 9-5 Class 4A Western Slope League play (third place), lost in first round of 4A state playoffs to Air Academy.

Key Returners — Bailey Hoffmeister, Sr., 3B/P; Teig Hauer, Sr., P/SS; Wyatt Robinson, Sr., C; Dalton Bornholdt, Sr., P/1B; Jeremiah Aragon, Sr., OF; Layton Stutsman, Jr., CF.

Others to watch — Gabe Marbas, Fr., IF; Ivan Quezada, Soph., 2B; Alex Gould, Jr., OF; Morgan Robinson, Soph., OF; Blane Vance, Fr., UT.

Outlook — Phillips, whose teams have competed for league championships almost annually, figures that the Bears will be in a dogfight for the league’s third-place spot behind WSL favorites Delta and Palisade. He’s confident in the Bears’ pitching staff that includes Hoffmeister, Hauer and Bornholdt, but admitted Rifle’s defense will have to be solid behind them since they’re not the kind of pitchers who will overpower batters. Offensively, Rifle doesn’t have a ton of power in its lineup, so the Bears will have to rely on ways to manufacture runs early until the weather, and the Bears’ bats, warm up.

GIRLS SOCCER

Head coach — Rich Carter (Third season).

Last season — 0-14-0 overall, 0-10-0 Class 4A Western Slope League (eighth place), no postseason.

Key returners — Brenda DeLoera, Jr., D; Karen Garcia, Sr., D; Katie Harmon, Sr., C/; Katelyn Shanahan, Sr., D; Alyssa Winschell, Sr., D; Maddie Carter, Sr., F.

Others to watch — Jessia Bracamontes, Fr., F; Chante Church, Sr., C/M; Brenda Reyes, Sr., D; Kailie Cordova, Sr., GK; Veronica Santoyo, Jr., D/F.

Outlook — The Bears have picked up a few athletes from the girls basketball team who hadn’t been there in the past, which gives them some extra depth and improves their skill level. Still, Rifle isn’t looking to be an overnight success in the win-loss column, as the Bears are simply looking to have better showings each match than in 2013, when they were outscored 124-4. “Our biggest goal right now is just to be competitive,” Rifle coach Rich Carter said. “We’ve taken huge steps toward that.”

GIRLS GOLF

Head coach — Britt Choate (Fifth season).

Last season — Finished second in Class 4A regional tournament, sent two golfers to Class 4A State Championships.

Key returners — Alyx Carter, Sr., Emily Neuroth, Soph.

Others to watch — Rachel Page, Fr.; Toni Booth, Jr.; Nanami Doi, Jr.,

Outlook: Choate fully believes that Carter and Neuroth have the capacity to reach the state tournament, citing the experience Carter gained last season and the athletic ability and work ethic of Neuroth. Page, even though she’s a freshman, brings experience with her from playing in junior golf in the summer. “The potential is there for everyone,” Choate said. “We’ll see how the season plays out.”

TRACK & FIELD

Head coach — John Scraebeck (Second season).

Last season — Sent four athletes to Class 4A state Championships; boys finished fourth place at Western Slope Regional meet, girls finished in sixth place.

Key returners — Boys: Brayden Smith, Sr., shot put/discus; Cody Rice, Jr., 400/800 meters; Brenden Wagler, Jr., 800, 1,600, 3,200. Girls: Brittany Neuroth, Sr., shot put/discus.

Others to watch — Boys: Carlos Ochoa, Soph., 200/400/hurdles. Girls: Carsyn Copeland, Sr., long/triple jump.

Outlook — Scraebeck is thrilled about the turnout the Bears had for track this season of 80 people. He also likes the attitude the team has. “It used to be track was something people did just for fun. A lot of people here take pride in it now,“ he said. Along with that turnout is the likelihood of depth. Scraebeck said the Bears could have as many as 18 sprinters this season, and the Bears will also compete in the pole vault for the first time. They’ll try to put that on display during today’s 19-team Rifle Invitational at Bears Stadium.

RIFLE — Competition is a pretty strong theme for the spring sports teams at Rifle High School this season. Some teams have set their sights a little higher than others.

One of them is Rifle’s track and field team, which last season felt it was competing just to get people to come out for the team. That’s not a problem this year, as numbers are up, along with the motivation of the team members to finish high in each event and, eventually, place at the state meet.

“The kids have really bought into what we’re trying to accomplish here,” second-year Rifle coach John Scraebeck said.



The Bears, of course, would like to accomplish enough to become a contender for a state championship, like they were four years ago. The turnout Rifle had — 80 kids came out for track this season — is a step in that direction.

Rifle’s baseball team would like to compete for a league title like teams of the past, but the Bears know that Palisade and Delta are considered the favorites for the 4A Western Slope League championship. Rifle coach Troy Phillips, however, feels his team is good enough to compete for a playoff spot — the top three teams in the league standings earn postseason berths.



Six of Rifle’s nine starters from last season are back this year. One of the most notable is senior Bailey Hoffmeister, who is slated to be the Bears’ No. 1 pitcher with a variety of offspeed offerings.

Rifle’s girls golf team hopes to compete like it did last season, when the Bears finished second in the Class 4A Regional at River Valley Ranch in Carbondale and sent a pair of golfers to the 4A State Championships. One of those golfers — senior Alyx Carter — returns after reaching the state tournament a year ago.

Rifle coach Britt Choate feels confident that the Bears will be able to either meet, or exceed, that amount of state qualifiers this season.

The Rifle soccer team also feels like it’s headed in the right direction.

The Bears went winless a season ago, but coach Rich Carter feels this year’s newcomers, along with the players who return from last season, have given Rifle a chance to improve in the win column in 2014.

“Our main goal is to grow the program right now,” said third-year coach Carter, whose team will drop down to Class 3A starting in the 2015 season. “Our goal for this season is to be in every game. I think we can do that.”

Carter does have a good base of players to work with in the future, especially after a high turnout when practice opened earlier this month.


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