We need to address something!
Don’t worry, no one is in trouble. Unless you’re the opposition and crossed paths with a fall sports athlete in the Southeast.
Harrison, Mitchell and Sierra all have had at least one notable athlete or team accomplish something phenomenal this year.
We also have some kudos for Hillside Connection’s Hoopster Basketball League. More on that shortly.
Our high school softball, cross-country, football and soccer teams have accomplished first-time feats or continue to pave the way toward incredible seasons.
I’d like to attend more prep sporting events, but I am not “Twice” from My Hero Academia and I cannot clone myself.
However, I do pay attention. Let’s start with Sierra softball.
I attended Harrison from 2004-08 and I do not recall Harrison School District 2 softball teams posting winning records during my time.
Following the pandemic, though, Sierra’s softball squad has been magnificent. During the pandemic-altered 2020 season, the Stallions combined with Harrison to create a team.
The following season, the Stallions separated from their rival and produced some noteworthy results.
Sophomore Sierra pitcher Marisa Reyes finished seventh in the nation – not Class 3A, not in Colorado, seventh in these United States – in strikeouts, with 212 during the fall season.
That’s a three-spot improvement from her freshman season in 2021 when Reyes finished 10th in the nation.
This year, Reyes pitched the fewest innings of anyone in the top 10 at 102.2 innings. The next closest was Elizabeth’s Hannah Espinoza at 115.1 innings.
In 2021, Sierra finished 8-12, the Stallions’ best record on the diamond in more than 20 years.
This year, the Stallions eclipsed 10 wins for the first time in more than 20 years and made back-to-back playoff appearances.
Softball wasn’t the only sport where HSD2 rivals previously joined to build a team. Harrison and Sierra soccer united in the early 2000s to field one team.
In the early 2010s, the teams separated and each needed time to regroup. From 2010-2019, the Stallions never finished the year with a winning record. Sierra’s best finish occurred in 2012 with a 6-8-1 mark.
The past three seasons, the Stallions have been over .500. This year, Stallions soccer notched a seven-game win streak, the most in team history.
Sierra’s nine wins this year was the most in recent team history.
The last time Harrison went to the postseason was 2015 when the Panthers finished 11-5. This season, Harrison finished 11-3-1 and made the postseason.
Their stout defense allowed only 17 total goals and has not permitted more than three strikes in a game all year.
After allowing more than three goals 8 times in 2019, just one opponent has netted more than three strikes since then – Coronado in a 4-3 loss on Oct. 14, 2021.
Also of note, Harrison has not dropped a road contest since the Panthers lost 3-2 to Fountain-Fort Carson Oct. 16, 2021. This year, Harrison finished the regular season 6-0-1.
Last month’s Express featured a one-on-one interview featuring Christopher Horyczun, an accomplished and constantly improving runner.
With the exception of a trio of races, Horyczun has set a personal record each time the starter’s pistol pops.
Horyczun is approaching a decades-old cross-country record at Mitchell as well. Daniel Castaneda, current Colorado College assistant track and field and cross-country coach, holds the school 5K record at 17 minutes, 0.1 seconds.
Should Horyczun continue on his streak, he’ll eclipse the record before he departs from Mitchell.
Two seasons ago, I watched Harrison miss the state title game by one touchdown after Gateway managed a late rushing touchdown in a semifinals playoff game.
The Panthers lost several seniors from that 2020 crew and spent last season rebuilding.
To start this year, Widefield and TCA shut out Harrison in the Panthers’ first two games and I thought, maybe the rebuild would continue. Nope!
Since starting 0-2, Harrison has crushed its competition and managed a six-game win streak.
Should Harrison make the postseason, this would mark the Panthers’ sixth playoff appearance in eight years.
Hillside/HSD2 hoops league
Parents, HSD2 staff and I watched our local youth strut their stuff thanks to the “Fall Hoopsters Basketball League.”
This basketball league attracted players from District 2 elementary and middle schools to compete in multiple divisions each Saturday throughout October.
Games occurred at Carmel Community School and Panorama Middle School and offered a wonderful exhibition for spectators.
Kids had an opportunity to compete without breaking the bank and could polish their games.
Players received prizes, jerseys and shoes (Nike kicks at that!) and got the vibe of a typical basketball game.
This one is less about stats and accomplishments and strictly meant to shout out an awesome opportunity Hillside provided.
Not all kids can afford to play with travel teams or purchase the latest pair of shoes that can ring in at $100.
I love this event in our community and I hope the success continues through the winter!
This column was written Oct. 21. For updates, check out this column online.