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CoachSpeak: 2020 PRA Baseball Preview

 

By PRA Head Baseball Coach Mark Knudson

 

We were thisclose. Only a technicality – a horribly flawed CHSAA rule – kept us from becoming the first boys’ team in PRA history to reach the regional play-offs last season. This season, there’s no excuses. No reason we can’t break down that barrier.

 

It won’t be easy. We play in the meat grinder called the Metro League, which sent seven (should have been eight) out of 10 teams to the regionals in 2019. We graduated the best two players in our school’s brief history in All-Metro League standouts Jake Thiret and Brandon Huffman. Those two had been staples in the middle of our line-up and on the mound for the past three seasons. Not automatically writing their names on the line-up card is going to be a habit that’s hard to break.

 

We don’t have any single player or players on our 2020 squad that are going to be able to replace them.

 

And no one will be asked to. Replacing Jake and Brandon’s production will need to be a collective team effort. And that we can do.

 

As it does with every baseball team, it all starts on the mound for us. We have experienced seniors in Malachi Peterson, Austin Schaffer and Andrew VanOtterloo back to lead the starting corp. We have promising junior Nick Farel to add to that group. We have the potential to have a really solid bullpen with junior Justin Huffman and senior Dom Trombetta anchoring. Our pitching should keep us in every game.

 

Defensively, we should be very good with Rocco Cassano and Matt Lemberger behind the plate, Tennyson Young making the move to third base, and Farel, Trombetta and VanOtterloo up the middle. Huffman, Griffin Hill and Schaffer form a really good outfield, too.

 

We won’t hit a lot of home runs, but big James Luehr, already signed to play college football at Concordia, will provide some power at first base, and along with Schaffer should be our top RBI guys.

 

We do have some good depth with some younger players, too. We will be able to withstand a few injuries should that happen (fingers crossed.)

 

The schedule is tougher this season with a few non-conference games requiring some lengthy travel. The good news is we get to play Lutheran at Metro State University again this year, and on May 5th, we will play Aspen at Coors Field.

 

Last year we had the first winning season ever for PRA. This season we have the opportunity to better that record and be playing in the post season. This time close won’t be good enough.

Miners Cheer team keeps overcoming during trip to Nationals

 

By Lily Fletcher

 

If the 3A state championship win wasn't enough to prove the true grit and perseverance of the PRA Girls Varsity Cheer team, the weeks leading up to a trip to compete in the “nationals” competition really put the team to the test. With the season winding down on the squad’s best year yet, a bumpy flight to Florida wasn’t the only thing they had to overcome.

 

Coming straight out of their 3A state championship win, and just two weeks before the squad’s flight left for the National High School Cheerleading Championship, the squad lost two key members, a freshman who transferred to another school, and a senior who opted to leave the team. Now coach Nicolette Griffith’s team was struck with a problem: They had to reconfigured their entire title winning routine so that they could still compete with a smaller squad. 

 

Senior co-captain Allyson Willey described it this way: “It was really stressful, and it was hard to keep morale up when we had thought we had no hope. But we really bonded as a team through the tough experience. I’m so proud of what my team was able to accomplish.”

 

The Cheer team had placed first in the Colorado State Championships this season for their division competition routine.

 

This wasn’t their first trip to the Sunshine State. The PRA squad had gone to Florida once before in 2018, and we were ready for the tough competition that this event brings from around the world. After the uncomfortable airline trip, junior Abigail Wade said, “The flight was scary on the way there, but we were all so excited to step foot at the competition grounds. It was intimidating when we got there, but I was so grateful that we were there after what we had been through earlier in the season…and that I got to experience it for a second time.”

 

The team ended up less than a point away from making finals with their game day routine, and one spot away from making semifinals for their traditional routine. They hit both routines with zero deductions despite having relearned them just two weeks prior to the trip. 

 

The Cheer squad has put the wraps on their season as the Boys and Girls basketball seasons come to an end. They will say farewell to their seniors at their banquet in March. With a fantastic record-breaking season in 2019-20, the PRA girls cheer team can’t wait to bring it on next year!

Miner Girl’s rolling into Metro League tournament home game against St. Mary’s Academy

 

By Mark Knudson

 

It’s Metro League post-season tournament time, and it comes at a great time for the PRA Miners Girls’ basketball team.

Riding a three-game winning streak and boasting a winning record in conference play, the red-hot Miners will host St. Mary’s Academy on Saturday at 1pm for a chance to advance in the league tournament and keep their state tournament hopes alive.

 

The Miners defeated the Wildcats 46-22 earlier in the season and will be looking for their seventh win in their last 10 games. They’re coming off a regular season capping 45-22 win over Stargate School that saw forward Elizabeth Rooks continue her outstanding sophomore season, leading the team with 14 points. Freshman guard Zoe Webster added 12.

 

The win moved the Miners (9-10, 6-5) into fifth place in the Metro League. The top four teams receive byes into the second round of the league tournament, so another Miners win on Saturday would likely send them to Faith Christian to meet the fourth-seeded Eagles. The two teams played a tightly contested game less than a month ago, with Faith pulling out a 35-30 victory.  

 

Entering the league tournament, the Miners sit at #34 in the RPI rankings. After the conclusion of league tournaments and the awarding of automatic bids, the top 32 teams in the RPI rankings advance to the state tournament. Wins over SMA and Faith Christian (currently sitting at #20 in the RPI) would give Head Coach Ellie Kempfe’s team a legitimate shot at qualifying for the state tournament.

 

The Miners Boys team will be hoping for a bounce back performance when they open Metro League tournament play on Saturday at Kent Denver.

You can go home: Miner Girls get big win at Machebeuf in Coach Kempfe’s homecoming

 

By Mark Knudson

 

For almost a decade, Ellie Kempfe led a highly successful Girls’ Basketball program at Bishop Machebeuf High School in Denver. That included winning the 3A State Championship in 2007.

 

When she left Machebeuf to become the Athletic Director at Prospect Ridge in 2013, the immediate plan wasn’t to continue coaching. But things change, and when the opportunity came up for her to take on the dual role, she took it. Her first season back on the sidelines has produced a few highlight moments. Tuesday night provided one of those. 

 

Kempfe and her young Miners team took another step forward when they traveled to Machebeuf and beat the Buffaloes 50-33 in Kempfe’s first game back at her former school.

 

The outcome was never really in doubt after PRA jumped out to a 12-point lead after the first quarter. The lead grew to 27 points after three quarters, and from there, the Miners cruised home.

 

Sophomore Elizabeth Rooks scored 18 points on 9-13 shooting, and added 10 rebounds. A freshman Zoe Webster and junior Faith Hernandez each added 10 points to fuel the route.

 

The win boosted the Miners to 3-4 in Metro League play and leaves them battling Peak to Peak, Colorado Academy (who they visit on Thursday) and Machebeuf for conference tournament seeding.

 

After visiting CA on Thursday, the Miners host a big game against SkyView Academy next week on Senior Night.  

Girl’s trip to the Thunderdome produces memorable result

 

By Mark Knudson

 

Within the City of Denver and the basketball community, the gymnasium at Manual High School, known at “The Thunderdome” has hosted dozens of the most epics high school hoops games in this area’s history. It’s undoubtedly the state’s most famous high school gym. For the PRA Miners and head coach Ellie Kempfe, it proved to be a friendly Metro League road venue, as the Miners moved to 1-2 in league play with an impressive 52-38 win over the Thunderbolts.

 

The game was tied at the half before the Miners outscored their hosts 31-17 in the second half to win going away.

Senior Jocelyn Korbe led the team effort with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Younger sister Jaelyn, a sophomore, chipped in 10 points and three boards. Faith Hernandez was 3-for-6 from three-point range, finishing with 11 points, while leading scorer Elizabeth Rooks was held to just five points but added nine rebounds in the winning effort.

 

The win improved the Miners record to 4-7 overall.

 

They will host Kent Denver on Saturday as part of a big day of hoops at PRA. Both gyms will be busy with all levels of the Boys and Girls team hosting the Sun Devils. The Girls’ varsity game tips off at 12:30 with the Boys’ varsity game slated to start at 2pm.

After a long time away, Boy’s hoops team finally back at home

 

By Mark Knudson

 

It’s fairly unusual for a high school basketball team to start the season playing eight of their first 10 games away from home. But that’s what the Prospect Ridge Academy Miners had to go through thanks to the schedule maker.

 

The upside is that the rest of the schedule is loaded with games that will be played in the friendly confines of the Miner’s home gym. That starts Tuesday night when they return to league play to host Jefferson Academy.

 

The Miners are coming off a nail-biting 33-32 win at Arvada that saw them come from behind to win on a free throw from Junior Sam Cullison with just .03 of a second left to play.

 

That win broke a five-game losing skid, including a loss to league favorite Lutheran that has left them 0-1 in Metro League play.

 

Cullison leads the Miners scoring attack, averaging just under 11 points per contest. Senior Malachi Peterson and sophomore Andrew Cuss are the top rebounders, averaging 5.8 and 6.6 boards per game respectively.

 

The game against Jefferson Academy is the first of four consecutive Metro League home games for PRA, continuing Thursday night’s match up with Manual, Saturday’s game against Kent Denver and “Black Out” night against Faith Christian on Friday, January 31st.

Basketball teams back in action this week

 

By Mark Knudson

 

Both the Boys and Girls PRA Basketball teams return to the court this week as school gets back in session after the holiday break.

The PRA Girls will host University High from Greeley on Tuesday night, looking for their second straight win. The Miners upped their record to 3-4 on the young season with a 39-23 win over Aurora West College Prep Academy on Saturday in Aurora.

 

Early on, sophomore Elizabeth Rooks leads the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging just over even and seven board per contest. Senior Bella Thompson continues her growth as well. The senior forward has improved her scoring average to just under five points per game.

 

The Boys team (1-6) is looking for some momentum after a narrow 58-56 loss to AWCPA on Saturday.

 

The Miners are being led by junior Sam Cullison, who’s off to a hot start, averaging 12 points per game. That includes a 17-point game against Lake County and a 16-point effort in a double overtime loss to the Academy. Senior point guard Zack Root is averaging just a shade under 10 points per game as well.

 

Seniors Malachi Peterson and Andrew Cuss led the team in rebounding, each averaging just under seven boards per contest.

 

Both squads will have some lengthy time to practice again after the games with University. They both wait to jump into Metro League play until Wednesday January 15th against Lutheran. The Boys will travel to Parker for the match-up, which tips off at 6pm, while the Girls get a home game that gets underway at 5pm.

Culture change the goal for PRA Boy’s Basketball

 

By Mark Knudson

 

Scot Iten’s first year at the helm of the PRA Boy’s Basketball program proved to be a rough one. He inherited a senior-laden squad that was used to doing things a certain way…and it wasn’t necessarily his way. Turning that around is a project Iten has enthusiastically embraced.

 

“That’s what’s exciting about this year,” Iten said as the new season dawned. “It’s a bunch of new guys who’ve chosen to take a new direction from last year. I think they weren’t thrilled with where the culture was last year either, so they’ve taken it upon themselves to try to change it. Everybody’s ready to be competitive this year.”

 

The Miners struggled to a 6-14 mark a season ago. What bothers the coach is that they could have been so much better.

 

 “I think we definitely underachieved (last season) Iten stated. “We definitely had the talent to be a lot better than 6-14. We did not have the right chemistry. We didn’t have a whole group of guys who all bought in and were pulling in the same direction. I think that’s the difference this year. I really feel like everybody that’s a part of the program from top to bottom – from our top senior to our bottom freshman have expectations – winning expectations. That’s the difference. That’s the shift.”

 

The Miners aren’t as big as many of the teams they will face this season, but Iten is counting on being a better shooting team and taking advantage of his team’s newfound cohesiveness. To that end, the coaches will be counting on senior guard Zack Root – who competed for the Miners football team in the fall – in a big way.

 

“Zack’s definitely going to be our leader,” Iten stated flatly. “He’s our point guard. He’s really an extension of the coaches on the floor. He’s the guy that’s going to make us go this year.”

 

Being a multi-sport athlete is something that Iten sees a lot of value in. He’s got several of them on his basketball squad.

 

“I think that was great for him I really do,” Iten continued while talking about Root. “I think it gave him some toughness; and they do a great job with footwork in football…he’s quicker, he’s stronger and he’s more vocal and I think that’s a result of playing football this year.”

 

Others on Iten’s roster that play multiple sports at PRA include seniors James Luehr, Malachi Peterson and Dominic Trombetta. Each will be counted on heavily after seeing limited varsity action to this point.

 

“We basically lost 90% of our scoring from last year,” Iten noted. “We lost Bryson Cuss and Austin Leopold, and those are hard guys to replace for sure.”

 

Andrew Cuss, Bryson’s brother, will be a key component, as will Harley Clark, who is currently sidelined with a high ankle sprain. He’s likely to miss the first week of the season.

 

Teams that don’t return a lot of starters are normally poised to take a step back. But after going 6 – 14 last season, Iten expects to turn the tables this year and be a contender. The second-year head coach doesn’t think going 14-6 is out of the question, even in a Metro League that features powerhouses like Lutheran and Manual.

 

“There might be some people out there that think that’s crazy, but I don’t see any reason why not. I was actually pretty excited even though we lost to KIPP (on opening night) to see the growth from the minute we started that game – with basically one guy (Root) who’s played a lot of varsity minutes - to where we were at the end of that game. To see that kind of growth and passion – to see guys upset about losing and see them the next day at practice. I don’t think that would have been the case last year.”

Cheerleading squad captures school’s first ever State Championship

 

By Mark Knudson

 

At marquee high school sporting events, the cheerleaders aren’t the focus of the competition. But when the get the stage to themselves, that all changes.

 

At the 2019 CHSAA State Spirit Competition last week, the PRA Cheerleading squad captured the school’s very first State Championship. After finishing first in the preliminary round that reduced the field from 15 3A schools to four finalists, the Miners final routine outdistanced runner-up James Irvin by more than two full points, topping the field with a score of 77.567. Gunnison was a distant third, and Lamar placed fourth.  

 

This wasn’t an accident. This was the result of many hours of physical training and practice put in under the watchful eyes of head coach Nicolette Griffith, and he assistant Cameron January.

 

“It’s a lot of dedication and determination by the team,” Coach Griffith smiled. “They put in a lot of hours. We started back in April and we go all summer long to really push towards that state championship. To be quite honest, it’s not all fluff and puff. The teams that we go against are quite competitive, and they definitely push us to the greatest limit that we can get to.

 

“The girls go through rigorous tumbling practices, regular sideline practices…we have the games and other side competitions to prepare for. So there are a lot of moving parts all in one year.”

 

The team members are put through off season workouts just like every other PRA squad…every bit as difficult and strenuous, if not more so.

 

“We take tumbling practices at least once a week if not more,” the coach noted. “Most of the team members are in private lessons as well. They do stunt classes with me during the summertime and during breaks when we can per CHSAA rules. They do weekend trainings if they would like to…so it’s a lot.

 

A couple of years ago, Griffith began using Yoga as a training technique and found it beneficial in more ways than one.

“During our finals week, we have such a rigorous academic schedule, the girls wanted to still have practices, but something that was a little bit lighter,” noted Griffith. “Getting their minds off of studying so hard and everything like that, and just kind of coming back to their center. It was one of the best things, and it’s proven to be very lucrative for us.”

 

The routine that won the state title for the Miners isn’t anything like what fans at football and basketball games see. It’s much more involved…and risky.

 

“There’s tumbling, there’s harder stunts, ‘tossing’ skills…inverted skills where the girls are actually on top of their heads – so it’s quite dangerous,” Griffith laughed. “But like I said, they train all year ‘long for it.”

 

And it paid off with what will forever be the first state title in Prospect Ridge Academy history.

Kempfe returns to sidelines to lead Miner’s Girl’s Hoops into new season

 

By Mark Knudson

 

Even as she was leaving a successful program behind and starting a new and bigger task at a brand-new school, Ellie Kempfe had a feeling she had not coached her last high school basketball game.

 

After a successful nine-year stint as the head coach at Machebeuf High School – including a State Championship in 2007 – Kempfe accepted the job as Athletic Director and Assistant Principal at Prospect Ridge Academy in 2013. It was her first time as an administrator, and she quickly discovered a new set of rigors that came with being an AD.

 

But she never lost the desire to coach.

 

“I just knew it was a matter of time,” Kempfe reflected. “My focus needed to be on the admin side…and that would always be my main focus – to do that job well. But I knew that down the road that there would probably be an opportunity…and this is that opportunity.”

 

After Sara O’Flannigan led the Miners to the best season in the school’s brief history last year, finishing 15-9 and qualifying for post season play for the first time ever, she opted to step down. The Miner’s also lost seven seniors off that team. So, the new coach – whomever that was going to be – was going to face a rebuilding year in 2019-20.

 

Kempfe didn’t hesitate to step back onto the court.

 

“Coaching has always been a passion point for me,” she continued. “That’s always driven me and motivated part of my life. There was no question that I wanted to do it…it was just how could I balance the different hats. My first priority is I’m an administrator here. But if it’s a passion point of yours, you have to go for it. It was now or never.

 

“Definitely a rebuilding year, there’s no doubt about that,” she smiled. “But that’s what makes this job exciting and challenging. Excited to see other kids step up.”

 

The Miners do have some experience coming back. Half the Varsity roster saw significant playing time in the past. Kempfe will be counting on two seniors, Jocelyn Korbe and Bella Thompson, along with junior Faith Hernandez and sophomore Elizabeth Rooks. One newcomer who will have a lot on her shoulders at the outset of the season is freshman point guard Zoe Webster. Going into the first week of practices, Kempfe wasn’t certain who the point guard would be. Now she knows. She’s going with the rookie.

“I think there’ll be a learning curve for sure,” Kempfe cautioned about Webster. “But she is more than up to the task. She is confident and has already shown great leadership abilities playing that 'one' position.”

 

The Metro League figures to be “competitive as always” Kempfe noted. “It will be a dogfight throughout the entire conference season” expecting schools like Lutheran and Kent Denver to be especially tough foes. And what about her old school, Machebeuf? ' 

“I’m never going to compare (her current team) to my Machebeuf teams. These are new players, new student athletes, different personnel…but there are three things I want them to focus on to get back to that level: Play hard, play smart and play together. If we continue to focus on these things, then success will follow.”

With rebuilding year complete, even better days are ahead for PRA Boys Soccer

by Jack Haynes

 

The 2019 season was destined to be a rebuilding year for the Miner’s Boys’ Soccer team. Having graduated eight seniors from the 2018 version, the 2019 squad was left with one senior, and just four more upperclassmen. The final record was 5-9-1, which was a tie away from last season’s record, which was the best in the school’s short history. Even though the expectations going in were not as high as a season ago, the Miners ended up exactly where they were last year in RPI, ranking 33rd.

 

Coach Todd Schroeder’s motto for the season was to “Strive to get 1% better each day” in all aspects of what they did. Fair to say, no matter the result, after each game they got 1% better; whether it was in the aspect of their play, reliance or just team chemistry. 

 

Lone senior Michael Mote summed it up nicely.

 

“I’m really proud of where we ended up this year,” Mote smiled. “We had defined this year (with just the five upperclassmen) as a rebuilding year, and yet we were a tie away from what we accomplished last year. It just goes to show the resilience of our team. Our team learned a lot of things this season, including strong mentality, speed of play, and to keep fighting. But most importantly, we learned the importance of unity. I have never been a part of a program that shares such a strong sense of love and brotherhood like PRA soccer, and as that continued to grow stronger, we played better each game.”

 

During the course of the season, Mote exhibited many traits that the other players built upon, on and off the field. Throughout their season, in games and practices, he showed resilience, humility, and endurance. No matter the score, Michael’s strength gave his teammates the inspiration to never give up no matter how defeated they felt. They learned to not get ahead of themselves when things went well, but most importantly, to give it their all for every one of the 80 minutes (and in two instances the 100 minutes played when they played into overtime.) 

 

Key player Griffin Hill was injured early in their preseason scrimmage against Erie and didn’t return until he played just a few minutes late in the year. Yet the boys faced the season optimistically and did not let it discourage their play for the rest of the season. They never did show any signs of giving up. Sacrifices were made - players willfully played out of position to better the team, showing a willingness to go beyond themselves to put the team first.

 

Despite the team not getting an end of season playoff berth, they nearly matched their best season’s record, while participating in a rebuilding year. The boys grew stronger together through the leadership of Coach Schroeder, and captains Mote, Mikey Ungacta, and Andrew Cuss. There’s little doubt in Miners Country that even better days are ahead.

Rueda Brother – Sister Combo represent Miners at State Cross Country Meet

 

By Mark Knudson

 

The Fall Cross Country season finished up with two Miner runners, the brother-sister combo of Gabriel and Isabella Rueda, each qualifying for the state meet in Colorado Springs.

 

Both Gabriel and Isabella qualified for the state meet with outstanding performances in the Class 3A Region 3 meet. Isabella posted a personal best tying time of 21:58. That placed the sophomore 15th overall and qualified her for the state meet. Freshman Elise Wheeler came in at 22:47, good for 20th in regional's.

 

At State, Isabella encountered a crowded field, finishing 80th with a time of 22:07.80. Head Coach Mary Marr could not have been prouder.

 

“Isabella's competitive spirit shines bright in everything she does,” Mary wrote. “She had a goal of making it to State again this year and she ran her heart out to make that happen. Isabella is a supportive teammate and leads by example. She works incredibly hard in practice and many days is doubling up on XC and soccer practice. She is one of the most consistent and mentally strong athletes I have ever worked with.”

 

Gabriel, a senior, surged in the final leg of the race to finish a surprising second in the regionals, with a time of 17:39. It wasn’t as fast as his PR of 17:08 earlier in the season, but considering the circumstances it was his most impressive performance of the year.

“The success that Gabriel has achieved has not been by chance,” Marr noted. “It was a dream made reality through years of dedicated training. Even on those days when he did not feel like it and no one would have known the difference, Gabriel was still out putting in the work. I admire his confidence and drive to never settle and keep pushing himself towards his next goal. I know I speak for both myself and Coach Ben when I say it has been a privilege to be part of Gabriel's journey and watching him grow into an amazing athlete, role model and an incredible young man.”

 

Gabriel finished 40th at the state meet, with a time of 18:00 while battling with a pack of talented competitors.

Both the Rueda’s, Wheeler and most of the team members will now enter off season training in preparation for the Track and Field season next spring. With a collection of talented young runners, the best days are ahead for the Miner Cross Country team.

By Lily Fletcher

Many young athletes grow up dreaming about the chance to play for their country’s national team. Prospect Ridge Academy junior Michael Ungacta has gotten that chance and is making the most of it.

 Ungacta is the junior co-captain of the Boy’s Varsity soccer team at PRA. Along with holding his defensive line together this season, and being a leader on the field through a tough schedule, Ungacta has been given the opportunity to perform on a national level.

 After finishing an eyelash away from the post-season in 2018, the Miners returned a very young team this season, with just a single senior on the roster. That has pushed Ungacta into a leadership role.

Known to his friends and teammates as “Mikey,” the outside defender has shown a maturity and soccer IQ well beyond his years as PRA battles strong opponents in the 3A Metro League. Much of it comes from his time playing with the Guam National Soccer team this past summer. Both of Micheal’s parents have a strong connection with Guam. Michael’s father was born and raised on the island, and after repeated visits back to Guam to visit family, Michael was recognized by the coach of the Guam Football Association’s National Team and found himself a spot on the squad. 

When he got the news, Michael’s initial thoughts were not total excitement.

“At first it was intimidating, Ungacta recalled. “I was expecting everyone to think of me as an enemy trying to take their spot, but they turned out to be the nicest teammates I’ve ever met. When I show up to practice with them it feels like family, and the community is amazing.”

Along with a great environment to be surrounded by, Ungacta also described how he grew as an athlete and a leader on and off the field, by playing with and learning to respect professional players from other countries all over the world. 

He will return to the national stage the first week of November when The Guam National Team travels to the Asian World Cup Qualifiers and plays against Japan, Mongolia, and Vietnam. After being asked about how he’s doing during his current season, Ungacta smiled.

“Everything I learned from the Guam National Team I strive to bring into our school team as a captain.”

Miners Cheer team keeps growing during trip to Nationals

 

By Lily Fletcher

 

If the 3A state championship win wasn't enough to prove the true grit and perseverance of the PRA Girls Varsity Cheer team, the weeks leading up to a trip to compete in the “nationals” competition really put the team to the test. With the season winding down on the squad’s best year yet, a bumpy flight to Florida wasn’t the only thing they had to overcome.

 

Coming straight out of their 3A state championship win, and just two weeks before the squad’s flight left for the National High School Cheerleading Championship, the squad lost two key members, a freshman who transferred to another school, and a senior who opted to leave the team. Now coach Nicolette Griffith’s team was struck with a problem: They had to reconfigured their entire title winning routine so that they could still compete with a smaller squad. 

 

Senior co-captain Allyson Willey described it this way: “It was really stressful, and it was hard to keep morale up when we had thought we had no hope. But we really bonded as a team through the tough experience. I’m so proud of what my team was able to accomplish.”

 

The Cheer team had placed first in the Colorado State Championships this season for their division competition routine.

 

This wasn’t their first trip to the Sunshine State. The PRA squad had gone to Florida once before in 2018, and we were ready for the tough competition that this event brings from around the world. After the uncomfortable airline trip, junior Abigail Wade said, “The flight was scary on the way there, but we were all so excited to step foot at the competition grounds. It was intimidating when we got there, but I was so grateful that we were there after what we had been through earlier in the season…and that I got to experience it for a second time.”

 

The team ended up less than a point away from making finals with their gameday routine, and one spot away from making semifinals for their traditional routine. They hit both routines with zero deductions despite having relearned them just two weeks prior to the trip. 

 

The Cheer squad has put the wraps on their season as the Boys and Girls basketball seasons come to an end. They will say farewell to their seniors at their banquet in March. With a fantastic record-breaking season in 2019-20, the PRA girls cheer team can’t wait to bring it on next year!

By Mark Knudson

James Luehr

In order for a smaller school with a roster half the size of most to be able to compete, you have to have a few horses in the trenches. Luckily for the Prospect Ridge Miners football team, they have a couple of standouts in the middle of both lines.

One is senior tackle James Luehr, a lineman who plays on both sides of the ball for PRA…and handles the place kicking duties to boot. Luehr’s play has earned him a chance to participate in the prestigious “Blue-Grey All-American Bowl” in Arlington, Texas on December 16th.

It’s a terrific honor AND opportunity for Luehr, who along with playing three positions in football, is a three-sport athlete (basketball and baseball) at PRA. He’s the second PRA lineman in three seasons to get invited to the Blue-Grey game. In 2017, Miner’s standout Tyler Walls was selected to play, but missed the game due to an injury.

“Near the end of last season, (quarterback/defensive back) Dylan Meredith and I got invited to come to their combine in Lakewood,” Luehr recalled. “We went and had a good time…I ran like a 5.3 40-yard dash, which is pretty good for someone my size.” He did well in other drills as well, gaining the attention of the game organizers.

“After that I got invited to the Super Combine, which I wasn’t able to go to,” Luehr added. Thinking that opportunity was probably gone, he was surprised when he got an official invite in the mail a couple months later.

He’ll be ready.

“I’m very excited,” Luehr smiled. “I’ll be participating in my normal sports but I’ll also be working out every morning before school as much as I can. Just to get prepared and keep my strength up…and be doing some football drills just to stay in shape.”  

As a team, the Miners continue to build up the program under second year Head Coach Mike Storer. After having their season opener postponed when the game officials didn’t show up, they lost two games before pulling off the rare feat of winning two games in a span of five days – the make-up game against Sheridan became a defacto “Monday Night Football” match-up that the Miners won 36-16, and on the following Friday night, they upended Sheridan 49-28. After dropping their last three games, PRA sits at 2-5 and in the 2A Patriot West League.

“It’s been a rough season for us,” said Luehr, who is undecided about his college plans at the moment. “But in general, we feel it coming together, and we’re starting to shape (a program) that’s looking to do a lot better next year. This year it’s really been about the seniors building up the organization for the rest of the kids that come into the program.”

The Miners have two games remaining, a road tilt at league leader Eaton on Friday night October 25th, followed by season finale against Resurrection Christian at Five Star Stadium on November 1st. After that, Luehr will be focused on the upcoming basketball season…and his impending trip to Texas.

Follow the Miners on Twitter @PRA_Athletics

 

By Mark Knudson

A lot of people around Prospect Ridge Academy spent the afternoon of October 8th nervously checking their phones, eager for an update from the 3A State Boy’s Golf Championships. PRA’s Walker Franklin, already the most successful individual athlete in the school’s short history, was trying to make history of his own by winning the school’s first state title.

It was not to be. After shooting an even-par 144 over the two rounds, Franklin found himself tied with Westin Pals of Lutheran atop the 3A leader board at the Eisenhower Course on the grounds of the Air Force Academy. Pals won the play-off on the first hole and a frustrated Franklin, who’d narrowly missed a chance to win the title on the final hole of regulation, settled for the runner-up spot.  

“I worked hard, but it wasn’t really the outcome I was looking for,” Walker mused a few days after the tournament ended. “I really wanted to win state…I’m not really too upset, just bummed from it.”

3A was the only classification that needed a play-off to decide the champion.

Franklin had also gone into extra holes at the regional qualifying tournament, beating Holy Family’s Jacob Mason on the first extra hole to earn the title of Region 2 Champion. You might think his nerves had taken about all they could take by that point.

“In the regionals, it really wasn’t that bad because it was one of my best friends and we were just messing around,” Franklin smiled. “State was different because I really wanted to win that. But I can’t do too much about it now.”

Ranked as one of the top amateur players nationally, Franklin will be taking his talents east next fall to the state of Kentucky, where he will continue his pursuit of golfing excellence for one of the top Division I college programs in the country.

“I committed to the University of Louisville,” Franklin announced. “Right now, they’re ranked in the top five in the country, so it’s kind of hard to say no to a scholarship to a place like that.”

With a fourth-place finish at the state championship to conclude his junior year to go with his runner up finish as a senior, Franklin has set a high bar for future Miner golfers…and the PRA athletic program in general.