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NHS Fall Sports Roundup — Repeat State Boys Soccer Champs, Girl’s Gymnastic League Champs Among Many Highlights!

Northfield HS Fall 2022 Sports Roundup

Compiled by Madeline Mason, NHS intern for

Northfield fields teams in eight fall sports:

  • Boys Soccer
  • Football
  • Cross Country
  • Girls Gymnastics
  • Boys Golf
  • Girls Softball
  • Girls Volleyball
  • Boys Tennis

Northfield is establishing a winning sports tradition. In 2023 the boys soccer team captured its second straight 4A championship while the girls gymnastics team won the 4A league for the second time in as many years. Girls softball hit it out of the park, going undefeated in 12 games. Read on for more on Northfield’s strong athletic program!

Repeat as State 4A Soccer Champs After Losing 12 Players! Building a Culture of Excellence in Sport and Character!

Boys Soccer — Coach Jason Keever

Overall, how do you think your team did this year?

The team did excellently. They exceeded expectations and managed the weight of being defending state champions extraordinarily well.

We had the outcome we wanted. It was obviously hard losing so many seniors from last year, but I think we bounced back with just as much strength into the state championship.

What highlights would you like people to know about? What kind of progress did you make in key areas?

Well, for one — we lost 12 players from last year’s team to this year, which   means this was in many ways a completely different team. We knew that this group was incredibly malleable and that we had a lot to work with, which was exciting for me as a coach.

However, the key always comes down to maximizing the collective whole. This is very difficult to do because it isn’t a “one size fits all” model, and every year it is different. With this group, we trained multiple formations throughout the season, and the team knew exactly why we would employ one vs the other.

They also knew that certain tactical variants played to different strengths of different players, which in essence means that sometimes if we are playing one system, then by default certain players likely would not see minutes.

The season also took time to develop. At the start of the season, I think all of us were in some ways unsure of what we could accomplish. We knew we could be good, but how good?

It took till the end of the regular season after our fourth game of the season against Mullen was when we realized how good we really were, and what kind of season this could be. From then on, while it wasn’t easy, the group believed and never looked back.

We made progress in many areas. Throughout the summer as well as the season we increased the difficulty of our training program, which is certainly not an easy thing to manage, but overall, it was great to continue to build the player community at large, and to be able to offer an outlet for more players.

We added an additional coach this year – Harrison Leep, who has been a fantastic addition to the program, both as a coach and as a person. Most importantly, we built on the foundation that was laid by all the classes before, but specifically, the class of 2021. They left behind a culture of excellence, in character, in the classroom, in the community, in relationships, and obviously on the field.

We decided that as a group the MOST important thing this season was to not lose sight of that, regardless of the outcome of matches and the season as a whole. As long as we commit to maintaining that legacy, then when these seniors leave, they will have done their job.

If we win state, terrific…but if we do it and lose who we are as a program then that is a losing season. I commend this group for continuing to advance the unique culture that has taken many years to build at Northfield, one which we must now continually foster and cherish.

Any big disappointments?

Well, we obviously didn’t want to lose to East, but it went the way it was supposed to in my opinion. They were an excellent team, and credit to them for winning the 5A Title this year, they deserved it.

I will say though, coming into that match, it wasn’t one I was particularly thrilled to play. We had already clinched a top four playoff seed (which was our #1 objective outside of winning the DPS 4A Title), and it was the perfect opportunity for a potential injury to occur right before playoffs.

We all know there is tension in a Northfield vs East game now (especially when it is being touted as “The City Championship”, which it really wasn’t), and so there was just a lot being left up to chance by playing this match, with honestly nothing to come from it except bragging rights.

We approached it in a way where we wanted to win but knew that if we didn’t, it was nothing more than a shot to the ego — which we kind of needed considering that would have been our 40th game in a row without a loss (38-0-1 coming into the match.)

So, it all worked out perfectly in the end. The weight of that run finally ended right when it needed to. We got a healthy dose of reality right before the playoffs, and we were able to recalibrate as a team when it mattered the most.

Players who made a big difference to your success or those who came on as somewhat of a surprise.

The team this year really was an exceptional TEAM. Throughout the season we had big moments from a multitude of players. Obviously, Zach Liptzin was an exciting, key player for us. Everyone knows about him. He’s that guy that every team plans for, that fans come to games to watch, and that as a coach you don’t come across very often. Just an exceptionally skilled 1v1 player on the ball, who stepped up and scored big goals for us this season.

Then you’ve got a guy like Chance Jaques who had to wait until his senior year to get his moment, and man, he took it. He scored key goals for us all season long, and he maintained such consistency in midfield in the way he played. He also scored the goal to keep us alive in the second round of playoffs.

 Jack Dougherty is another one. He played everywhere we needed him to and never complained. I threw him at the striker, and he scored two goals against George Washington. We get an injury at the left back, and he goes and does that job as well as anyone.

Mats Mallon — our surprise American-Norweigian — who came for a semester to study in the U.S. He was a tremendous player who added quality to our side. While he primarily played in a wingback position (which is not natural

for him) he did a great job and was fun to watch. Great at the 1v1, and just his reading of the game helped a ton.

Ren Garfield is our leading goal scorer and he’s only a junior. He stepped up big time this season. At the start of the season, his goal was to score 20 goals in the year and go figure, he got there in the State Final.

Jack Freimann is a player who hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves. Jack was our holding midfielder and captain of the team. Silky smooth with his feet, great in the air, and a quality leader all around. Jack connected our team on the pitch, keeping the ball moving side to side, but his biggest strength — he picks out passes and strips players of the ball constantly. He’s really gifted at that, and it just breaks up play for the other team, never allowing them to get a rhythm. Not to mention he was “man of the match” during the State Final. He was an absolute beast in that game and showed his tremendous class.

Miles Smith was our other captain and made the transition from midfield to    center back, and he did it like a champion. He was a rock back there all season long and you never would have known he had never played the position before. It was a selfless move on his part, one that he did for the team, and it paid dividends as we were able to keep Jack Freimann in midfield, and Miles truly shined playing deeper on the pitch.

Ben Whitney was another guy who totally stepped up despite never playing a varsity minute until now, as a senior. He owned his position at right-back this season, rarely making a mistake, playing with intelligence, and being 6’ 3’’ was super helpful for us defending set pieces from opponents.

Lastly, I’ve got to give a shout-out to Mercer Dergance, who because of injuries did not have the exact conclusion to the season he wanted but was a mainstay in our backline for four years. He’s a guy who understands our culture, and even when he realized he was done for the season, he always came to practice and never complained, helped shag balls and be a positive contributor in whatever way he could, and genuinely just wanted to keep being around the game. In the end, though he couldn’t play in the final, he continued to embody what it means to be a servant-leader; what it means to be a Nighthawk.

What’s the outlook for next year’s team?

The outlook is bright. We have a lot of quality players coming back who know what it takes to be successful. While I did not mention them above, Zander Kosmas is a key returner for us. His play in goal was excellent this season and I cannot emphasize enough how key he was to our success.

Rowan Galvan also stepped up this season and showed what a tremendous player he is as a box-to-box midfielder. As a senior next year, I am looking forward to seeing him step into a leadership role. Next to him is Tate Bliss who has always been one of the hardest workers in the program. He came on strong toward the end of the season and really showed a lot of leadership qualities.

While I can’t name everyone, all of the 15 returning players from this varsity group will be heavily relied upon next season. I am looking forward to yet another transformative process as we embark on another crazy four-month sprint next fall!!!

Good, Not Great Season. Work Already Started on 2023!

Football — Coach Ben Startzer

Overall, how do you think your team did this year?

It was a good year… not great, but good. The team played really well at times, but not so well at other times.  We finished with a winning record (6-4), however, we felt that we could/should have earned another 1-2 wins. We finished 2-3 in our 3A 5 league tying with two other teams, Fort Morgan and Kennedy.

What highlights would you like people to know about? What kind of progress did you make in key areas?

Perhaps our biggest gain was in team leadership.  Our junior class really emerged as leaders on and off the field.  Overall, the team culture was positive and helped the lower-level players grow. We grew closer as a team.

Offensively, we broke records (again) for total points breaking that record with a total of 213 points. We also broke our previous in yards with 1,466 rushing yards and 1,111 receiving yards. It was fun to see a large group of juniors emerge and grow as players, in particular Christian Love and Marcus Wiley.

Any big disappointments?

Injuries and a few disciplinary suspensions led to an average record and ultimately cost us a chance at the playoffs.

Losing one of our wide outs Dean Stickel to injury in the preseason scrimmage was a big hit to our team. Though this year was his first year playing high school football, he was a force to be reckoned with on the field. As well as a tremendous leader, competitor, and positive influence on our team.  We missed him all year.

As a head coach there are many areas I must improve in if we are going to break the ceiling on 6-4 records and a bubble playoff team (the team was 6-4 two years in a row). One of our core values on the team is “If the axe is dull, more strength is needed” and it speaks to our value of discipline, so in the upcoming season I would like to work to create a strong community of discipline and getting the boys to play a higher level of football.

Players who made a big difference to your success or those that came on as somewhat of a surprise.

The inside linebacker corps of Jack Easterly, Ryan Manning and Connor Reece.

Mark Cox’s emergence this year was a big difference. He dominated the field as a tight end, nose guard, and defensive end. His presence, leadership, and grit anchored the defense.  Big difference when he was in the lineup. Zack Ryan was even better this year, with five touchdowns and nearly 15 yards per reception on average.  His leadership was a pillar of our success.

The seniors on the offensive line (Nate Martin, Willy Campos, Ryan Ackerman, Isaac Stoehr) showed up this year… did a really good job. Junior Travis Reece played like a senior – thank goodness we got him back for another year.

K.J. Minniefield was a big and welcome surprise.  As a first-year player, he finished the year in second place on the team in tackles.  Played through injury, learned a ton, and delivered!  He will be a strong asset on the team next year.

Sophomores Cam Harris, Ramon Castanon, Bruce Fink, Aiden Martin, and Sean Jones really made strides through the second half of the year.  They should be very good players in the future.

What’s the outlook for next year’s team?

The 2023 season is already underway, from an offseason perspective.  The junior class has already begun meeting and designing changes for next year. Our goals are dependent upon the teamwork ethic between January and August – attacking the weight room and getting more players into the Ironmen Club (strength standards), completing the O-Line Offseason Journey, and doing QB Academy through the spring.

We play in a very competitive league, again, next year.  It’s going to be a long, arduous road, climbing to the top.

Most Runners Ever – 85! Won Top Places at League and State Meets!

Cross Country  — Coach Joey Bender

Overall, how do you think your team did this year?

This year was another great year for Northfield Cross Country. We had the most athletes come out in school history with 85 and had our best places in school history at our league meet and state meet!

The student-athletes are taking every step to build an amazing culture on our team that has a lot of fun but is serious when it counts.

What highlights would you like people to know about? What kind of progress did you make in key areas?

The culture continues to build with the core values of community, hard work, and discipline being fundamental to our team.

Our team had the highest finishes at the state championship meet with 12th for the boys team and 8th for the girls. We also had school records set in terms of both time and place at the state meet.

At the DPS League Meet, the boys finished third and the girls captured second. We had two athletes set individual school records in terms of both time and place at state – Isaac Kleinschmidt with a personal record (PR) of 16:00 and 35th at the state championship, and Taylor Buese with a PR of 18:24 at 16th place showing at state.

We also took full teams to Nike Cross Regionals Southwest in Arizona for the first time and had an amazing showing. We hope to continue our success at that meet and one day qualify for Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore.

 Any big disappointments?

No major disappointments!

Players who made a big difference to your success or those that came on as somewhat of a surprise.

We had many surprises that would be too hard to single certain athletes out, but our whole sophomore class made great strides in their fitness since last year. This year our 15th best runners would have made our top seven varsity last year, so just seeing that much improvement in one year was a huge surprise!

What’s the outlook for next year’s team?

Our team had less than 10 percent seniors so next year is looking very bright with most of our team returning and training hard in the off season. The goal would be to have two top five finishes at the State Championship and contend for league titles!

 4A League Champs Second Year in a Row!  “We are Beyond Proud!”

Girls Gymnastics — Coach Elizabeth Brennan

Overall, how do you think your team did this year?

We finished the season as the 4A league champions for the second year in a row; qualified for regionals and placed 3rd! We finished the season in the top ten in the state for the second year in a row; qualified for regionals and placed third!

Here are the team results for Regionals.

Region 3:

1) Palmer Ridge 176.375

2) Standley Lake 171.4

3) Northfield 162.45 – *Official Regional 2022 Title* Yay!

Top 10:

1) Elizabeth 181.35

2) Palmer Ridge 176.375

3) Evergreen 174.475

4) Niwot 172.1

5) Standley Lake 171.4

6) Roosevelt 168.75

7) Northfield 162.45

8) Loveland157.6

9) Green Mountain 156.95

10) Alamosa 155.425

We went in ranked lower than we were last year, which was fine, our team score was 155.3 last year for fifth place and we are 162.45 this year for seventh place, so we are hanging in with the competition really well as the top 10 4A teams are all getting substantially better.

Overall, how do you think your team did this year?

Last year we ended in ninth place with a 157.0. The team entered the state meet hoping to hold their seventh-place spot, through the competition. The state results are as follows: seventh place state finishes with a 166.225 –highest team score in the history of Northfield Gymnastics!

The highest score prior to this was 164.0. They smashed it! They beat eighth place by 9.225 points and were behind sixth place by only 4.75 points. As a coaching staff, we are beyond proud. Can’t wait for the next season and the growing community!

One State Tourney Qualifier; Personal Bests by Many Players 

Boys Golf — Coach Ernest Jones

 Overall, how do you think your team did this year?

I think the season went well. We had a state qualifier and one stroke away from having two. We had three consecutive weeks of team best scores. For the first time we had three players shoot in the 70’s in the same tournament. We have so many players who achieved their personal best this season.

What highlights would you like people to know about? What kind of progress did you make in key areas?

As the season progressed so did the growth of the program and that growth was evident in players’ scores dropping and changing drastically from the beginning of the season. Our putting and iron play from top to bottom improved. This is an area where we lost a ton of strokes in tournaments.

Any big disappointments?

Disappointed that we only had one person at state. We should have had more qualified.

Players who made a big difference to your success or those that came on as somewhat of a surprise.

Players that added to the success of the program were Trevor Manhart, Mason Sukigara, Chase Cavender, Aiden Kuo. Their mentorship to the younger players was instrumental to the success we had as a team.

Ralph Carlacci and Torin Massie had breakout seasons that took the team to new heights. Trevor led by example and played consistently all season and he also experienced a personal best.

What’s the outlook for next year’s team?

The outlook for next season is extremely bright with great talent along with a great crop of incoming freshmen. Super excited about the direction of the program.

“We Came With the Heat” to go 12-0!

Girls Softball — Coach David Supercynski

 Overall, how do you think your team did this year?

This year was massive for the softball team with a streak of 12-0. We came with the heat and definitely surprised some people.

What highlights would you like people to know about? What kind of progress did you make in key areas?

Some big highlights this season would definitely be team chemistry. Our players grew closer as a group, which was great to watch on and off the field.

Any big disappointments?

One was not going further into the playoffs after all the work put into the season, but nonetheless, the girls did amazing. So it’s hard to even call it a big disappointment.

Players who made a big difference to your success or those that came on as somewhat of a surprise.

Some of the players that made a difference this year were junior Riley Ballog with a .632 batting average and Aiyana Cordero, a senior, with a .625 batting average, as well as Addison Kwong who was a firecracker with a total of 31 runs this season!

What’s the outlook for next year’s team?

Next year is looking good with our impressive junior class and stellar sophomores. We also can anticipate an increase in players with the expectation of a massive number of incoming freshmen. Things are looking good for next season though we will miss our amazing seniors.

Great Year! Excited for What’s to Come!

Girls Volleyball — Player: Nashara Ellerbee

 Overall, how do you think your team did this year?

I would say that we had a great year and defined ourselves as a team through the ups and downs of the season. I obviously wish we could have played more into the postseason, but I think everyone is just excited for what is to come.

What highlights would you like people to know about? What kind of progress did you make in key areas?

On a personal level: I tried to work this season on my attitude. At the beginning of the season, I was very confident and felt that I deserved more playing time. But over the season my coaches explained that everyone has something to contribute and something different.

So, I began to understand that we all play a different role in the team you know. So, through learning this new mindset I was able to be more versatile and play better. I think of that as a major personal highlight, and I would say the same for most of my teammates as well.

Any big disappointments?

Definitely say our loss to TJ. We were all looking forward to it and the fact that it was also our senior night, there were definitely a lot of emotions in the air. But I would say that we got better because of it.

Players who made a big difference to your success or those that came on as somewhat of a surprise.

Our seniors did an amazing job setting an example for everyone. They helped teach all of us the importance of working as a team and they really helped build our team chemistry this year.”

What’s the outlook for next year’s team?

I would say making it deeper into playoff season. We say that we want to make post season and things like that, but we gotta be effective when we do make postseason. So training in the off season, lifting weights, a lot of us are also multi-sport athletes so we have to stay fit and active and if we do that I think we can be super effective in the next season.

Much Improved, Regionals Qualifiers for First Time! Expect More Players and State Tournament in 2023!

Boys Tennis — Coach Dan Roller

 Overall, how do you think your team did this year?

Much improved season. We had several boys qualify for regionals and this is the first year that we have had any boys qualify. There was an obvious improvement as a team as we paved the way for future success.

What highlights would you like people to know about? What kind of progress did you make in key areas?

Increased participants in not only our coaching but also the number of students interested in joining the team. We also had a huge improvement in the skill set of athletes in our program.

Any big disappointments?

Not advancing in regionals to qualify for state was a big disappointment but we hope to come back next year with even more firepower.

Players who made a big difference to your success or those that came on as somewhat of a surprise.

Some of our top performers this season include Rithvik Iyer, only a sophomore and leading our team in singles events, as well as Krish Vipani, a junior with a streak of 6-3!

What’s the outlook for next year’s team?

We hope again to make regionals and hopefully shoot for state as we progress as a team and have more experience in competing at a higher level. We anticipate an increase in participation with the expectation of a massive number of incoming freshmen.

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