State stampede

Harrison School District 2 athletes had a winter season for the record books.

Whether on the court or the mats, Harrison and Sierra high shool athletes celebrated some remarkable accomplishments. 

Members of the Harrison High School boys basketball team warm up on their home court March 2 before heading north to compete in the CHSAA class 4A tournament. [Express photo/Regan Foster]

On the court, the Harrison boys basketball squad took what was supposed to be a rebuilding year and turned it into a bid for the state crown. The Panthers, under the direction of Coach Eric Kaiser, battled their way to the Great 8, before falling 64-63 to No. 2 Longmont. Kaiser, celebrating his first year at the helm, credited the extraordinary run to the squad’s athleticism, talent and hard work, and to the support of the players’ families, friends and community. 

The Panthers are also roaring with pride, since Donta Dawson was named to the Colorado High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) 4A second-team all-state squad. Dawson, a sophomore, was the youngest 4A player named to an all-state hoops team.

Sierra’s Eddie Whitmore dribbles out of trouble past the defense of Pueblo West’s Logan Garcia during the Stallions’ second-round playoff win Feb. 23 at Pueblo West High School. [Courtesy photo/Anthony Sandstrom/The Pueblo West View]

The Sierra Stallions boys basketball squad also had a solid 4A playoff run that took the team into the Sweet 16. Sierra easily bested Sand Creek, 74-65, and Pueblo West, 64-56, before losing a 64-63 heartbreaker to No. 11 Cheyenne Mountain.

But the success wasn’t just limited to the boys squads. 

Sierra High School junior D’nae Wilson and coach Joe Williams celebrate Wilson’s 1000th career point, which she scored Feb. 22 in a second-round playoff win against Sand Creek. [Courtesy photo/Robert Bentley]

The Sierra girls basketball team also put up an impressive post-season run, and one star player hit a bucket-list bucket during the post-season. Junior D’nae Wilson scored her 1,000th career point on Feb. 22, helping propel the stallions to a double-digit playoff victory against Sand Creek and a ticket to the Sweet 16. The squad valiantly fought in its bid against No. 1 Air Academy, but were bested in a 48-44 nail-biter. 

Both schools also sent top wrestlers to the Colorado High School Athletic Association State Championships in February. 

Sierra High School wrestler Atsama Pliev (second from right) accepts his third-place medal, the school’s first, at the state championships in Denver.

Nate Mesa, Kyon McDonald and Nester Torres represented the pride of the Panthers , while Atsamaz Pliev and Elijah Smith grappled for the Stallions in Denver. 

Pliev went on to be Sierra’s first state medalist, finishing third in the 220-pound division. Mesa secured a fourth-placed medal in the  285-pound class.

The student-athletes also proved their mettle in the academic arena. On Feb. 6, four Harrison seniors signed college scholarships. The student-athletes, their intended colleges and their sports were: McDonald, Northwest Tech., wrestling; Devon Washington, Colorado State University, track; and Mesa and Orlando Westbrook-Sanchez, both South Dakota School of Mines, both football.

(From left): Harrison High School seniors and student-athletes Kyon McDonald, Devon Washington, Nate Mesa and Orlando Westbrook-Sanchez sign letters of intent Feb. 6 on national signing day. [Courtesy photo/Angela Vance]

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