Youth will be served for Coal Ridge sports this spring
Graduation hits each high school sports program hard every year, and Coal Ridge is experiencing that strongly this year. Due to graduation, the Titans will be young this spring across the board, but with youth comes high-end talent for Coal Ridge.
Track and field should once again be a very formidable force, both at the 3A Western Slope League level and the state level under veteran head coach and athletic director Ben Kirk, while baseball appears poised for a big leap in the 3A WSL under head coach Dan Larsen, thanks to a number of underclassmen with multiple years of varsity experience in the blue and black.
Girls soccer lost quite a bit of talent to graduation, but head coach Damon Martinez has a strong group of players back, as well as a talented group of young players that will provide depth and support to the experienced players.
In golf, first-year head coach Jessica Thulson takes over a program with three seniors, but this year will be about growing the program while teaching the game for Thulson.
Overall, this spring should be a strong one once again for the Titans, largely due to the young talent available.
Head Coach: Jessica Thulson, first season
Last Season: Jaelyn Price competed at the state meet for Coal Ridge
Key Returners: Jaelyn Price, Sr.; Grace Gonzalez, Sr.; Isabella Brintnall, Sr.
Golfers to Watch: Sterling Brintnall Fr.; Kallie Bumgardner, So.
Season Outlook: Taking over a program with three seniors is a nice setup for first year head coach Jessica Thulson, but the Titans still seem to be a few years away from competing at the state level. That hasn’t phased Thulson, who wants to focus on making sure the girls enjoy the game at its purest form.
“I just want the girls to have an enjoyment for the game,” said Thulson. “They’re not at a level where they’re quite competing for state, but I want them to enjoy the game and push for individual goals. That’s our main focus for this season.”
Head Coach: Dan Larsen, sixth season
Last Season: 7-12 (5-4 in 3A Western Slope League)
Key Returners: Oscar Salazar, Sr.; Ryan Kotz, Jr.; Jared Lund, Jr.; Lane Stecklien, Jr.; Colton Westphal, So.; Carson Miller, So.; Jackson Wade, So.
Players to Watch: Ivan Gallardo, Jr.; Braeden Hubbard, Fr.; Alejandro Arredondo, Fr.
Season Outlook: With another year of varsity experience in the bag for a number of Coal Ridge’s talented baseball players, the Titans are eying a jump this season into the upper echelon of the 3A Western Slope League under veteran head coach Dan Larson.
“We expect them to do good things this year,” said Larsen. “Our three key players in [Ryan] Kotz, Jared [Lund] and [Lane] Stecklien are all good varsity pitchers. They’ve performed well so far. I expect us to do well this year and really make a push in the league standings.”
Coal Ridge has also seen senior Oscar Salazar take a major step forward in leadership, providing the young Titans with a veteran voice, while newcomer Ivan Gallardo has given the Titans yet another strong bat to work with this spring.
Head Coach: Damon Martinez
Last Season: 6-7-2 (4-1-2 in 3A WSL),
Key Returners: Alyssa Wenzel, Sr.; Adriana Vargas, Sr.; Libby Tharp, So.; Maren Hough, So.
Players to Watch: McKayla McKissack, So.; Astrid Bejarano, So.; Ashley Allen, Jr.; Arleth Chavez, Jr.; Raeanna Nelson, So.
Season Outlook: Coal Ridge soccer lost quite a bit of talent to graduation last season, but the Titan soccer program is as solid as they come under head coach Damon Martinez.
“We lost a lot of experience due to graduation, but we have a solid core of players that should help us to stay competitive,” said Martinez. “We will lean heavily on our experienced players in Adriana [Vargas], Alyssa [Wenzel], Libby [Tharp] and Maren [Hough]. We are in a very tough league. We have two teams that made deep runs into the playoffs last year, and every team, top to bottom has really improved.
“We are hoping to be competitive within our league and would like to make a return to the playoffs after missing them for the first time in a long time last year. We have a big challenge in front of us, but the team has been working incredibly hard and are doing a good job being flexible and learning to play with players that are new to some of their positions.”
TRACK AND FIELD
Head Coach: Ben Kirk, 13th season
Last Season: Boys placed second in league meet, snapping 6-year win streak; Girls won 3A WSL for fifth straight season
Key Returners: Girls: Kara Morgan, Sr.; Taylor Roberts, Jr.; Taylor Wiescamp, So.; Phoebe Young, So.; Raeanna Nelson, So.; Hartleigh Porter, So.; Maren Hough, Jr.; Boys: Moises Contreras, So.; Hitch Young, Jr.; Jordan Grant, Jr.; Colby Hoffman, So.; Kobe Wild, So.; Riley Nalley, So.
Athletes to Watch: Girls: Peyton Garrison, Fr.; Haven Prodinski, Fr.; Boys: Hayden Reeder, Jr.; Jack Price, So.; Danny Salas, So.
Season Outlook: Coal Ridge track is loaded on the boys side despite being surprisingly young, but the girls will steal the show for the Titans this spring under head coach Ben Kirk.
“The guys are very talented, but very young,” said Kirk. “We’ll be down a bit compared to where we’ve been in the past, but next two years we should be really tough. With the girls, we are probably more well-rounded than we’ve been in a long time. We’re known more for sprints and jumps, but we’re well-rounded with athleticism and experience.
“There’s a lot of good teams in the area, but I think our girls will be really competitive and as good as we’ve been in a long, long time. They’re young, but it’s the start of a pretty good crew for us.”
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The teams aren’t vying to one up the other in the rankings or looking to get a leg up in the league standings this fall, but that will hardly make the stakes any less meaningful for Basalt and Glenwood Springs high schools when they meet on the football field Friday night.