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Rifle boys basketball advances, Glenwood out in first round of 4A state playoffs

It’s on the second round of the 4A state basketball playoffs for the Rifle High School boys, and a long trip back home Thursday night for the Glenwood Springs Demons.

The Rifle Bears, entering the tournament as 48th and final seed, scored an upset win 53-50 over the No. 17 Grand Junction Tigers Wednesday night at Grand Junction.

Next up for the 8-15 Bears is a Friday night game at No. 16 Falcon (18-5) south of Colorado Springs.

Meanwhile, the No. 36 Glenwood Springs boys, playing a weather-delayed game Thursday at No. 28 Durango, stayed close but fell 59-54 to end their season at 9-15.

It was the final game in a Demons jersey for seniors Aiden Nieslanik, Reid Swanson, Stevie Vega Torres, Irvin Ayon, Azmar Mellin, Gabriel Barrantes, Bryson McClain, Jesus Martinez and Jordan Meraz.

The No. 19 Glenwood Springs girls keep the Demon hopes alive Friday night at No. 14 Skyview.

And, 3A District Tournament semifinal action takes the court Friday night at Grand Junction Central High School, where the Grand Valley girls take on Moffat County and the Coal Ridge boys face top-seeded Aspen. The championship and third place games take place on Saturday.

Todd Casebier hired on as new Rifle High School dean of students, football coach

Newly hired Rifle High School dean of students and head football coach Todd Casebier sits on a bench at Bears Stadium on Tuesday. Ray K. Erku / Citizen Telegram

New Rifle High School dean of students and high school football coach Todd Casebier officially joined staff Tuesday.

The Garfield County Re-2 District Board of Education on Monday confirmed Casebier’s position after approving all administrative letters recommending he be hired.

“Todd will be a great addition to our team, and though he will be developing relationships with all students, specifically, his role will be working with students that struggle with attendance, helping students complete their journey to graduation, and helping students find their place in school and community,” Rifle High School Principal John Arledge said a recent news release. “He will be a strong advocate for kids and help us develop pathways for kids.”

Casebier, who’s in the past taught and coached at Fruita Monument, Montrose and Palisade high schools, most recently coached at Castle View High School.

Casebier’s career has consisted of using his multi-tiered roles to help students achieve success, according to the release

“I’ve been in several positions where I work with students to get them the support they need to graduate. I think I can bring these skills to the table at Rifle High School, and I’m excited about joining the team,” Casebier said in the release. “I’m a Western Slope kind of guy. I’m excited to be coming back to the Western Slope.”

Casebier gets set to take over the helm from now former Bears Football head coach Damon Wells, who stepped down this winter.

Wells has now taken job as activities director and head football coach for Jefferson City High School in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Wells’ feats coaching RHS football are impressive, to say the least. As head coach, he accrued 118 wins to 35 losses. And, he led the Bears to three state title games — 2005, 2012 and 2014.

But when it comes to football, Casebier is also no stranger to the win column. Voted “Mile High Sports Magazine Coach of the Year” in 2018, Casebier’s exploits include leading the Castle View Sabercats to 20 wins since 2018.

Casebier led the Sabercats to 20 wins since 2018. His tenure included a top-10 finish, multiple playoff appearances, the school’s first ever 5A playoff victory and three Coach of the Year awards, the release states.

Casebier said he looks to bring continued success for RHS football.

“I’m the only guy in the world that will be coaching in two different COVID football seasons,” Casebier joked in reference to coaching Castle View in the fall and now Rifle in the modified spring Season C. “I’m very familiar with Western Slope football, and Coach Wells built an exceptional program. I’m excited about this opportunity, and I know that Rifle has a great winning tradition that I hope to continue.”

Casebier’s coaching skills, however, are not the greatest asset he will be bringing to Rifle High School.

“He builds young men to be better in their character, better citizens, better student-athletes, and better people. That’s where I’m excited to see him make an impact,” Arledge said in the release. “He is successful if you measure by wins and losses, that is for sure, but he is also successful in taking kids that may be struggling to find their way and helping them become better people.”

Each interview during the Garfield County District Re-2 hiring process consisted of a committee of administrators, counselors and teachers.


Coal Ridge High School phenom Taylor Wiescamp signs on with Northeastern Junior College

Coal Ridge High School senior volleyball player Taylor Wiescamp.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

An ordinary household basement has become a handy tool for Colorado student-athletes trying to emulate what they’re missing on the court.

Take Taylor Wiescamp, a star, three-sport athlete at Coal Ridge High School. Despite the fall high school sports season seeing delays due to COVID-19 issues, Wiescamp’s strict diet of basement body work has helped hoist her to a milestone.

Wiescamp on Wednesday signed her official letter of intent to play volleyball for Northeastern Junior College in Sterling.

“The days I don’t have school and we don’t have practice, I’m usually downstairs in my basement, working out,” she said. “I’m doing either conditioning or weight lifting — just trying to keep with that.”

To be fair, it’s Wiescamp’s discipline and dedication to perfecting the craft that deserves most of the credit. So sorry, basement — we tried.

There are all sorts of complications Wiescamp had to overcome in order to ink the pen. It took a bit of ingenuity.

Such inventiveness started to spawn when the now senior was going to close out her junior year in track and field. As a sophomore, Wiescamp finished top six in all Class 3A Colorado in throwing sports and was looking to continue her reign over the Western Slope League.

Then comes COVID-19, a worldwide pandemic that shuttered Colorado high school sports for not just the rest of the spring season but into fall.

“Honestly, that’s probably been the hardest thing this year,” Wiescamp said. “COVID’s really messed things up for athletes all around and it’s just hard knowing that my team has been preparing for so long that we’re not even sure if we get a season or not.”

“That’s been mentally exhausting and hard to try and stay tuned in and trying to keep an open mind that we’ll have a season.”

Even regular schooling amid COVID-19 has been a bit of a challenge.

“I always hated waking up for school in the years before, and now I look forward to it because I get to go out and socialize and have fun,” Wiescamp said. “I didn’t realize how fast it could be taken away until last year.”

Athletically speaking, however, Wiescamp is already a well-established staple within Coal Ridge sports. During her junior year of volleyball, she was named 3A Player of the Year and was named to the 3A All-WSL first team. She ended the 2019 season for the Titans amassing 246 kills with a kill percentage of 56%, plus 168 service points and an ace percentage of 13.7%. On the defensive side, she led the team with 116 total blocks on the season.

“She’s the kind of girl that is a real centerpiece for everyone around her,” said Coal Ridge Dean of Students, Athletic Director and track coach Ben Kirk. “That makes a team look good … that’s Taylor.”

Off the court and field, Kirk said Wiescamp also participates in National Honor Society, student council and the captain’s council.

“In all areas — academically, socially and then athletically, she’s just a stand out,” Kirk said. “She’s just a very cool kid.”


With quite the resume backing her, it helped Wiescamp connect with college programs. In other words, Wiescamp took some initiative.

“So, I reached out to them (NJC) in the hopes of responding,” she said.

By July, NJC coach Mackenzie Chrisman reached back. That moment, Wiescamp said, proved to be a confidence booster, “knowing such a great coach wanted a person like me on their team.”

“I’m super excited, just for the opportunity to even be able to play on,” Wiescamp said. “I feel like I chose a really good school, so I’m super excited for what the future holds with that.”

As to how exactly a college program goes about selecting a high school athlete amid a worldwide pandemic is a good question. In Wiescamp’s case, it was all about using technology to her advantage.

“I sent her some film,” Wiescamp said. “She said that she liked how well I could block in the middle, but that I need to work on getting faster.

“I’ve known that,” she added. “Bigger teams on the Front Range, they’re faster.”

After Chrisman looked at film, Wiescamp said she invited her out to perform in person, said Wiescamp.

Making choices

Wiescamp, whose collegiate prospects also included Otero Junior College, Western Colorado Community College and Metro State University, said she picked NJC for its small-town feel, as well as its stellar athletics.

“I just realized that I really enjoyed the home-like, small-town vibe that a junior college gave,” she said. “Athletics wise, when I went to different colleges, the junior colleges had the best athletes.”

Until then, Wiescamp continues to take weight-training classes, hit open gyms and spend time in her basement as she hopes to finish out her final season in high school where she belongs — on the court.

“I’m expecting to have a pretty weird season with what’s going on,” she said of the reschedule volleyball season, which is to be played in the Colorado High School Activities Association’s realigned Season C in the spring.

“I’m just looking forward to being able to play with my team one last time and the girls that have been playing with me all of high school.

“I’m just excited to get back on my court and play the sport that I love.”

Wiescamp looks to study sports medicine and go on to a four-year school after junior college.