Most Viewed Stories
- Girls' Soccer Peak Performer of the Year: Amy Eckert, Cheyenne Mountain
- Boys' Athlete of the Year : Anthony Davis, Fountain-Fort Carson
- Cheyenne Mountain blows late lead, eliminated from girls' lacrosse playoffs in 2OT
- Boys' Track and Field All-Area teams
- Falcon tabs Pourier, Green to co-coach football program
Peak Performers Winter 2011-12: Coaches of the Year
Coaches of the Year in the Pikes Peak region for the 2011-12 season:
5A/4A BOYS’ BASKETBALL
Greg Williams, Fountain-Fort Carson
Taking over during an awkward summer transition following former coach Anthony Ribaudo‘s exit after admitting to a sexual affair with a female student, Williams handled the unusual circumstance and an unfriendly, road-heavy schedule seamlessly. The Trojans posted a perfect record in the 5A Metro, won a playoff game and along the way defeated the same Broomfield team that handed Lewis-Palmer its only loss of the season. Under Williams, Fountain-Fort Carson showed remarkable offensive balance, with four players averaging between 15.8 and 10.7 points. The team also understood its weaknesses and improved. Facing one of the season’s first big games — at Liberty on Jan. 24 — the Trojans escaped with a four-point victory despite making just 13-of-26 free throws. Williams vowed to fix the problem. Facing Eaglecrest in the 5A playoffs a month later, Fountain-Fort Carson went 23-of-25 from the line to hold on for the victory. The season finally ended with a road loss to eventual 5A champion Chaparral in a game that saw the Trojans cut a 14-point deficit to just three with 30 seconds remaining. A team that shows that kind of improvement and that kind of grit is typically a reflection of its coach.
3A-A BOYS’ BASKETBALL
Mark Engesser, Colorado Springs Christian
For the second year in a row it was one loss — really one bad quarter — that derailed an otherwise perfect season for the Lions. That doesn’t take away from the job Mark Engesser did in his first season at the helm. Under his direction, CSCS showed the moxie to navigate a difficult 3A schedule with perfection. The best indication of his handling of his team came against its toughest area measuring stick — Manitou Springs. In the first game, at Manitou, CSCS needed overtime to finally pull away for a seven-point victory. In the second game, the Lions handled business at home in regulation by three points. By the time the teams met for a third time in the district championship, CSCS had distanced itself from the Mustangs and won by 15. Engesser orchestrated this while coaching his Division-I bound son, Nate, which can often be a complication. The only thing complicating the season was a loss to Holy Family in the round of eight at state in which a 21-0 run spanning 6 minutes in the second quarter thwarted the team’s championship plans. Tough to discard more than four months of success and progress because of one 6-minute nightmare.
5A/4A GIRLS’ BASKETBALL
Jamie Carey, Sand Creek
Competition for this honor was stiff. Sure, Bob Wingett’s Air Academy team should have won state – but actually doing it is quite another thing, and his team did. Pat McKiernan had Doherty at a high level throughout his first season, and Palmer Ridge’s Dennis Coates guided the Bears to a 21-4 season and the program’s first playoff victory. But what Carey did at Sand Creek stood out above the others. The former WNBA player laced it up with her team in practice throughout the season and helped the Scorpions overcome the loss of Division-I bound center Taylor Proctor to finish 19-7 and earn a trip to the 4A quarterfinals. Sitting at just 3-4 on Dec. 17, Carey’s team lost just three games after Christmas break — a three-point loss at Palmer Ridge and setbacks to eventual champion Air Academy and runner-up D’Evelyn. Carey has a potential star in sophomore point guard Mikayla Reese (13.6 ppg), but most of the success can be attributed to the coach’s ability to coax contributions out of her entire roster. Though Reese was the only player to average double figures, nine players chipped in at least 2.8 points per game.
3A-A GIRLS’ BASKETBALL
Frank Haist, Vanguard
The 2A landscape shook a bit when Haist’s Coursers toppled longtime Black Forest front-runner ECA on Jan. 14. The win was monumental not only because of ECA’s run of success, but because the Eagles were senior-laden and Vanguard didn’t have a senior on the roster. ECA eventually avenged the loss with a pair of lopsided victories, but the message was sent in that first meeting that Haist has built a new power at the young charter school best known for its rigorous academic standards. It didn’t hurt matters that Haist can coach his best player full-time. Junior point guard Bailey Haist — his daughter — emerged as the floor general, the best ball-handler, a reliable shooter and a calming influence against pressure. The Haist duo and everyone else on the Vanguard team can expect to see plenty of pressure in the future, as the top dog gets everyone’s best shot. And that’s where Haist has the Coursers pointed.
Billy Gabel, Pine Creek
An Eagles wrestler had a hard time describing the full extent of his coach’s intensity. “It’s crazy,” the wrestler said at state. “If we didn’t all buy into it, it wouldn’t work.” But Gabel, who helped bring Pine Creek its first team title in any sport, has a gym full of athletes fully invested in his program. The results speak for themselves, as the Eagles have landed three top-three finishes at state in the past four years capped by this season’s 5A title. Gabel will likely find it easier to convince newcomers to understand and accept his expectations now that tangible results can be displayed. And if even more Eagles wrestlers can attack the sport with the same ferocity as their coach, look out.
Mark Tabrum, Liberty
When the Lancers brought in Tabrum, they knew they had a coach qualified to orchestrate the overhaul the program desperately needed. Tabrum, a former Colorado College coach (1993-99), has coached at various levels since the mid-1980s and since 1999 has been the director of the coaching education program for USA Hockey. He had the credentials — now he has produced the results. After going 0-19 the season before Tabrum arrived, Liberty improved to 5-10-3 in his first season and broke through in 2011-12 with a 13-6 campaign that included victories over area heavyweights Lewis-Palmer and Fountain Valley in a three-day span. The Lancers were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, but the program’s foundation is now in place.
Kate Doane, Cheyenne Mountain
This could have been the year for the Indians to take a step down. Decorated swimmers Ashley Forsyth and Danielle Wahl had graduated and most of Cheyenne Mountain’s strength was in its younger swimmers. No matter, the Indians still took third at the 4A state meet and produced the area’s only champion in sophomore Sydney Buckley (100-yard butterfly). That kind of consistency comes from the top, and it’s not like Doane is riding the wave of success while on auto pilot. Her enthusiasm was on full display at state, as she leapt up and down with her arms flailing. Doane noted that every area team at state was loaded with strong underclassmen, so Cheyenne Mountain will have its work cut out if it hopes to stay in front of the pack. That’s OK, it has a coach used to putting in the effort.