Thomas Jefferson

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Putting the “Win” in Winter Sports

Posted 03/15/2018 by Andrew Villescas

TJ's cheerleaders are joined by their "mini" cheerleader counterparts for halftime during senior night. photo by Andrew Villescas

As the winter sports season came to an end, many teams reflected on their successes in the past season.

The Lady Spartans basketball team dominated the competition all season long; they finished their regular season with an incredible record of 21-2, falling short of a perfect season by losing nail-biters to East High School (54-62) and Centaurus (45-52). Senior Sydney Thompson commented, “I’m super proud of my team, we played great, we worked hard all season long, and we had the record to prove it.” The team still managed to finish 8th in 4A and received a first round bye, advancing to the next round of the playoffs automatically. The Spartans squared off against an eager Frederick High School on February 23rd. TJ won 72-42 and advanced to the Sweet 16, where they played Mesa Ridge but unfortunately lost 49-72. “It was a tough loss, but they were a talented team. I’m very excited about playing next year, we have a lot of players who are willing to work hard,” said Junior Jaelyn Jackson.

When the boys’ basketball team first stepped foot on the court, they knew it would be a season full of hard work. The team’s chemistry was evident when they played Valor Christian early on in their season, defeating them 49-47. This win was huge for their program, after losing to Valor several times in the past few years. Senior Isaac Ruybal commented, “The feeling was surreal. Knocking off Valor, the defending state champions who knocked us out of the playoffs last year, is something I will remember for the rest of my life. Especially defending our home court one of the highlights of my senior year.” The team finished the season with a 12-11 record in the regular season and earned a spot in the 4A playoff bracket. In the first round of the playoffs they played Erie High School, but unfortunately lost a tight game 50-46, eliminating them from competition and ending their season.

TJ’s Girls’ Swim and Dive girls’ team had another spectacular season with many Spartans competing at the highest level. Throughout the season, the girls worked very hard placing extremely well at the Denver Public Schools A-League Championships. Freshman Caitlin Beery placed first in 200 yard IM as well as the 500 yard freestyle. Senior Molly Little also placed 4th in the one-meter dive where she scored a career high of 370.45 points. These results, along with many others, helped contribute to TJ’s impressive team score of 216. The swimmers also accomplished a miraculous feat, having eight swimmers and two divers represent TJ in the 3A State Championship. Beery stated, “I was proud to represent my team I was very excited to swim and cheer on my teammates and see how I stack up against other swimmers in 3A.” TJ finished 13th out of 42 eligible schools at the meet. The team has a bright future ahead of them. “I think we will have more state qualifiers in our future to be able to score more points at state, and possibly be in the top 10. Personally I would like to bring home a state title for TJ,” Beery expressed. The team has high expectations for next year as they enter the off season.

Thomas Jefferson’s Wrestling team performed extremely well this season, winning many of their matches. Midway through the season, TJ hosted their annual Mile High Classic where 17 schools from across the state made their way to the school to compete. TJ performed exceptionally well; in the different weight classes, they had one champion as well as a 3rd place winner. TJ also accomplished an incredible goal of winning the League title, beating out South and East, among many other schools. This year, TJ had three state qualifiers: freshman Isaias Estrada, sophomore Thomas Garnica, and junior Bobby Macias, each of them being one of the top in their weight class at regionals. Macias stated, “I was excited till I stepped onto the mat. Then the nerves kicked in.” Macias finished 6th and Estrada finished 3rd. The future for TJ’s Wrestling team looks hopeful for the next few years. With a lot of young talent, the team will strive to win the League title and have more state qualifiers next year. 

TJ’s Unified Basketball team is all about creating opportunities for the students in Special Education. The Unified Sports teacher Elizabeth Lynch, as well as the helpers seniors Jai Jackson and Landon Cramer, helped create a fun and safe environment for these students to enjoy playing the game of basketball. This year, the team played one game against Denver South, defeating them 26-21. Cramer stated, “My favorite part about playing was seeing how excited and enthusiastic all the players teammates and coaches got. No one cared who won or loss, it was just all about having fun.” As the team continues to grow, they hope to see more support and spirit from their fellow Spartans.

During the winter season, TJ’s Boys’ Lacrosse team stepped out of their comfort zone and learned to play box lacrosse. “Box” is a hybrid of the normal game, but is played indoors with smaller goals and only short sticks, creating a faster paced game. Sophomore Ian Bolak mentioned, “Box lacrosse was a blast, it was difficult at first to get the hang of the game because of how quick it moved, but I really enjoyed it. Playing in this league helped me get better by helping me make quick decisions with my stick and help me become a better passer and scorer for the regular season.” Although the team did not do as well as they had hoped, they still learned a lot from this unique experience and hope to continue the tradition for years to come. Head Coach Jason Klimczak stated, “The lacrosse program at TJ has been about a lot of firsts. After not having a team for over a decade, it’s been amazing to see the amount of growth from year to year. This year we were able to participate in our first ever box lacrosse league and I think that the team really had a good time building their skills and playing a faster paced version of lacrosse indoors. I was very happy with the fact we had a good mix of returning players and new players to try and build the rapport for the spring season.”

The girls’ soccer team also experienced a shift from usually playing in warm weather outside to indoors with walls and different goals.“I always have so much fun playing indoor soccer, It gets us back in shape after the holiday season. This particular season was fun because we were able to get a sense of what our new coaches are like and get to know them which got us excited for the spring season,” explained Sophomore Ella Stephens The team made it to the semi-finals, but unfortunately lost to East High School in a close game of 1-2. Despite the loss, the Lady Spartans are looking to take the skills they learned and transfer them into their spring season. Stephens stated, “The biggest skill I learned in indoor soccer is my first touch. When I have a good first touch on the ball we are able to set up a good possession which is extremely valuable.” The team has big goals for this spring and is excited to see how the season plays out.

TJ’s Cheerleaders are some of the hardest working student athletes in the school. Practicing for hours on end, occasionally before school, really shows how talented and dedicated they are. On top of practices, the Cheer team hosts the annual Thomas Jefferson Mini Camp, where parents are able to take their children 4-11 to learn how to cheer like a Spartan. Senior Linda Quintana said, “It was a ton of fun, we taught them two cheers, a stunt, and a dance. After three days of practicing with them, we took them to the court during halftime to show off everything that they had learned.” The event was a huge success for the cheerleaders due to their immense dedication, not only to their team but to their school.

 The winter season wrapped up nicely for TJ, having several teams make a run for state in the playoffs, as well as many state qualifiers. With continued talent and hard work, TJ sports have a bright future ahead of them.