Recognize Colorado

Updated: November 20, 2008, 3:56 PM ET
ESPNRISE.com

Wrestling - Ponderosa



Wrestling isn't just another sport at Ponderosa. The gymnasium is packed at just about every competition with parents, local citizens and team alumni who come back to share some of the glory. "It's usually standing room only for our home dual matches,"coach Corey McNellis says. "The community is definitely behind us." The result has been six consecutive Class 5A state championships with the full belief that a record seventh title is on its way. "It's definitely an expectation that if you don't win state, it's a failed year," McNellis says. "There might be a little extra pressure this year, but our kids thrive on that." Returning to the team are some of the best wrestlers in school history. Senior Jake Snider has the rare opportunity to win his fourth consecutive state title this season. "Credential-wise, he might be the best Ponderosa wrestler that we've ever seen," McNellis says. "He's really talented. He was born to wrestle."Senior Zeke Hofer, a three-year state finalist, is a steady force. "When he gets out there, he's going to dominate,"McNellis says. Senior captain Daniel Kelly, who won a state title of his own last year, leads both on and off the mats with his performances and his classroom excellence. Other wrestlers who will be looking for big things are senior Stephone Kling, sophomore Austin Gabel and junior Steven Kelly. "You don't need to motivate this team,"McNellis says of his wrestlers. "They're motivated no matter what."



Girls' Basketball - ThunderRidge


ThunderRidge is a perennial girls' basketball powerhouse, and this year should be no exception. After last year's drive to the Class 5A state semifinal, losing to eventual champion Highlands Ranch, look for the Grizzlies to be right in the mix again this season. Senior Rachel Messer, an ESPN RISE All-Area second team selection, will lead the way. Fellow selections Brooke Jelniker, a junior, and Carlie Needles, a sophomore, make the Grizzlies one of the state's most balanced teams.



Boys' Basketball - George Washington


The Patriots flew under the radar last season, quietly making the Class 5A Great 8 while more flashy teams such as Poudre, Palmer, Regis and Denver East garnered most of the attention. But due credit will be paid to George Washington this season as a talented roster should make them a team to be reckoned with. ESPN RISE senior All-Area picks Thomas Bropleh, a forward, and Tyrelle Millard, a guard, will lead the way.



Girls' Swimming - Thompson Valley


After last year's third-place finish at the Class 4A state swimming championships, expectations are high for the Eagles to continue the push up the standings. After all, in just one season the team jumped from 14th place at the state meet to third. Good young talent makes the Eagles a threat, such as sophomore Lizzie Bergquist in the 200 IM and the 100 back. Senior divers Justine Boddy and Maria Wahl and the 400 free relay team add depth to this up-and-coming team.



BREAK OUT TEAMS



BOYS' SWIMMING  THOMAS JEFFERSON
Marc Houghton has a Class 4A state title to defend in his senior season.

GIRLS' SWIMMING  ARAPAHOE
Junior Page Newell is just one of several young swimmers on this up-and-coming team.

BOYS' ICE HOCKEY  RAMPART
Senior netminder Jeremy Byrns has the Rams poised for a big turnaround.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL  DURANGO
ESPN RISE All-Area pick Katerina Garcia, a senior, has the Demons on upset alert.