Titans moving on to much bigger things
PEACH VALLEY — Each of the four Coal Ridge High School athletes who committed this week to play college sports had one common theme: None of them wanted to settle.
Seniors Chris Contreras, Andy Bowles, Alicia Hampton and Amanda Wenzel each had options for where they wanted to continue playing interscholastic sports. But when each of them officially signed their letters of intent on Wednesday, they knew they were making the right decision.
“I feel really comfortable with the decision I made,” said Hampton, whose comments nearly echoed the remarks of her fellow seniors.
Hampton will run track at Bemidji State University, a Division II school in Minnesota. Contreras will help build the track program at Colorado State-Pueblo, which will field its first track and field team next year after a 22-year hiatus. Bowles turned down a track scholarship from Western State to be a recruited walk-on at the University of Wyoming, and Wenzel will receive a partial scholarship to play soccer at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.
Hampton, who was a big part of the Titans’ state championship 4×400-meter relay team last season, also earned first-team recognition on the Class 3A Western Slope League all-league volleyball team this past fall. She originally wavered between volleyball and track — considering Colorado Northwest Community College in Rangely for volleyball — and even turned down an initial scholarship offer from Bemidji. She changed her mind, however, and even got a little more financial help than she expected.
“I got a chance to practice with them, and they could see that I’m very competitive,” Hampton said. “They really liked that.”
Contreras, along with his other accomplishments on the track at Coal Ridge, has been on the state championship 4×200 relay for the past two seasons. He’ll be asked to do sprints for a CSU-Pueblo team that will have high expectations when it starts up in his freshman year.
“I kind of like that, as in starting from the bottom and working my way up,” said Contreras, who was on a boys track team that finished second in the state meet last spring. “It’s kind of like here at Coal Ridge. We didn’t have much of a team until the past few seasons. I’d love to be able to help do that at the college level.”
Bowles was a state qualifier in the high jump and hurdle events last year, but a torn ACL during this past spring’s state meet kept him from winning a state title. The ability he has shown however, prompted Western State to offer him a partial scholarship. Instead, the 6-foot-5 senior chose Wyoming primarily so he could compete at the Division I level.
The term “recruited walk-on” refers to a non-scholarship track athlete who received a sales pitch to compete on the team, much the same as the term “preferred walk-on” for college football athletes.
“They told me that if I show up and compete, I’ll have a scholarship by my sophomore year,” said Bowles, who said one of his goals is to hit 7 feet in the high jump this season.
Wenzel, who was part of a Coal Ridge girls soccer team that reached last year’s Class 3A quarterfinals, received a significant scholarship from Mesa. It’s a program in transition, as Jason Clare is serving as the interim head coach following the resignation of head coach Erin Sharpe in December following a 7-11-0 season.
Wensel was told during the recruiting process that her positivity and energy would be a boost to the program. She finished the 2013 season with 19 assists, and she expects to redshirt her first year.
“It’s close to home, and I know [coach Clare] really well,” said Wenzel, who played club soccer for Clare this past summer. “I’m really excited and counting down the days.”
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