Winter sports look promising for Cardinals | PostIndependent.com

Winter sports look promising for Cardinals

Mike Vidakovich
sports@postindependent.com
Grand Valley sophomore guard Shaya Chenoweth looks to drive baseline against Rifle junior Jessie Pressler and senior Samantha Hinkle during Rifle's come-from-behind 48-45 win Friday in Parachute. (LYNN SHORE)

The forecast for winter sports at Grand Valley High School looks to be promising as the boys and girls basketball teams and the wrestling squad all return a great deal of talent and experience from a season ago.

In boys hoops, Coach Scott Parker welcomes back all five starters from a team that made it to the first round of the state tournament last year. On the girls’ side of things, gone are the valuable services of Kylyn Rigsby and Bailey Rowe, but Coach Jake Higuera is confident that his returnees, led by junior guard Shaya Chenoweth, can be right up there with the best of them in the 3A Western Slope League pecking order.

First year wrestling coach Clint Whitley inherits a solid program which will be led by junior A.J. Serna, who will wrestle at 113 lbs. Serna was a state runner-up last year as a sophomore.

Fans of the Cardinal’s sports programs should be kept entertained through the long winter months, on the hard court and the wrestling mat in the always competitive Western Slope League.

Girls basketball

Head coach: Jake Higuera, fourth season. Last season: 16-8 overall, 9-0 3A Western Slope League champions. Postseason: Lost at Centauri in state’s Sweet Sixteen.

Key Returners: Shaya Chenoweth, Jr. G; Jordyn Pittman, Soph. G; Loghan Teter, Soph. F.

Others to watch: Danielle Call, Sr. G.

Outlook: Coach Jake Higuera and his Grand Valley Cardinal girls raced to the Western Slope League title last winter by compiling a perfect 9-0 conference mark. Lost to graduation, though, are the services of do-everything guard Kylyn Rigsby, who is now wearing the uniform of the Colorado Mesa Mavericks, and solid forward Bailey Rowe. Those two Cardinal aces accounted for a good portion of the Grand Valley offense last season.

“We’re going to have to find a way to score points this year,” Higuera said. “Those two seniors accounted for about 30 points a game for us, but the girls we have back this year came in ready and they play hard. They love to play hard.”

Leading the charge for the Cardinals this year will be junior guard Shaya Chenoweth who put up some impressive point totals in her sophomore year as a starter. A pair of sophomores, guard Jordyn Pittman and forward Loghan Teter will also be counted on by Higuera to keep Grand Valley in the thick of the WSL race. Higuera is excited to see what contributions will come from the only senior on the team, guard Danielle Call, who has been in the Cardinal program since her freshman year.

“This will be a tough league, but a fun league to play in,” said Higuera. “We’re hoping to be right up there with the best of them. We will have our hands full, but we’re excited to see where we will end up.”

Higuera sees the Moffat County Bulldogs as being a formidable conference foe, with Delta and Cedaredge also fielding competitive teams. Higuera is quick to add “Basalt is getting better and will be right in there also.”

Grand Valley will get the season started on Dec. 1, when it faces the Colorado Springs Christian Lions in the Jefferson Academy Tournament.

Boys basketball

Head coach: Scott Parker, sixth season. Last season: 10-11 overall, 5-4 3A Western Slope League. Postseason: Lost to Colorado Springs Christian in first round of state tournament.

Key returners: Garett Magee, Sr. G; Kade Hurst, Sr. G; Jeff Holbrook, Sr. G; Indra Griggs, Jr. P; Brenden Hagerty, Sr. G.

Others to watch: Laytham Magana, Sr. G; Angel Garcia, Jr. G.

Outlook: With all five starters back from a team that went 5-4 in the Western Slope League last year and qualified for the state playoffs, it could be a fun season in Parachute for Coach Scott Parker and his Grand Valley Cardinals.

“We will just try to build on what we did last year and keep the continuity going. We had a good summer of basketball,” said Parker.

The Cardinals, with their fast-paced style of play, will have to be at their best night in and night out in the balanced and competitive WSL.

“Larry [Williams] always has a good team at Roaring Fork, and Coal Ridge will be solid again, but we hope to be right in there with them,” Parker stated.

Parker is hoping that his team can pick up where they left off last year when his group began to gel and play their best basketball in the latter stages of the 2016-17 season.

“We came together a little bit better after Christmas break last year,” recalled Parker. “These kids have all played together the last six years. They feed off of each other.”

Grand Valley will need to be hitting on all cylinders from the very beginning as they will face a tough Colorado Springs Christian team to open the season on Dec. 1 in the Jefferson Academy Tournament.

Wrestling

Head coach: Clint Whitley, first year. Last season: Four wrestlers qualified for the 3A state tournament. Evan Hoff (graduated) 220 lb. state runner-up; A.J. Serna, Jr. 113 lb. state runner-up; Jon Pena, Jr. 138 lb.; J.T. Latham, Sr. 120 lb.

Others to watch: Michael Kelly, Sr. 182 lb.; Levi Nolan, Jr. 160 lb.; Carlos Flores, Jr. 152 lb.; Caleb Frink, Fr. 113 lb.; Jerry Stagg, Fr. 138lb.

Outlook: First year Coach Clint Whitley welcomed 24 wrestlers to the first night of wrestling practice at Grand Valley High School. It’s a larger group than has turned out in the past for the Cardinals, and Whitley is encouraged with the added numbers and depth going into the tough 3A wrestling campaign.

“Having a lot of depth will help us out in many areas, especially in our own practices where everyone will have someone to wrestle with and compete against each night,” said Whitley, who also teaches science at GVHS.

Leading a group of three state qualifiers back for the Cardinals this year is 113 lb. junior A.J Serna, who finished as a state runner-up last year in 3A. Also back from state tourney appearances a season ago are junior Jon Pena at 138 lbs. and senior J.T Latham at 120 lbs. Whitley will also rely heavily on 182 lb. senior Michael Kelley who the coach says “could turn some heads this season. We have high hopes for him.”

The coach also singled out junior Levi Nolan at 160 lbs. “We’re looking for him to perform well also. I’m excited for him to find some success this year.”

One area of concern for Whitley this season is the lack of wrestlers at the top and bottom of the respective weight brackets.

“We’re a little empty at the top weights and at 106 lbs.,” stated Whitley. “But this program has a very good tradition and foundation right now. We’re not rebuilding anything. We have great leadership from the seniors and juniors. They have been wrestling together for a long time now, and they know what they are doing.”

The Cardinals will open their new season next Thursday with a dual meet at Coal Ridge High School.


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