Athletes displayed impressive achievements during the winter sports season.
As the Winter sports season comes to a close, it’s time to recap everything that TJ’s athletes have achieved throughout the season. Wrestling has overcome the difficulty of building a new team, girls’ and boys’ basketball teams have come together against tough rivals, and the girls’ swim team has had a member qualify for State once again, along with taking the team to League meets.
After taking a leave of absence from coaching in 2014, Dean of Students Michael Laurita is now back as the head coach of TJ’s Wrestling team. Initially, the team consisted of 38 members. After a long fought battle determining which athletes to keep on the team due to academic eligibility, the number slowly dwindled down to only 15 boys, two of whom were injured and unable to compete. Laurita struggled to keep his team together, but was able to create a force to be reckoned with by working with the remaining athletes. Additionally, Laurita wanted to change the way his athletes are viewed, and show that they can not only succeed as athletes, but as students as well, explaining, “We are trying to find a balance between being an athlete and a student.” Through hard work and dedication, the team’s final record stood at 6-13. Although the season is over, Laurita is looking forward to the future development of the team and hoping to get the boys back to State next year.
The girls’ basketball team did a fantastic job on the court this season, playing several challenging games against various rivals. One of the more challenging games was their first, against Aurora Central on December 1st. The girls were nervous going into the game because it was the beginning of their season, but through dedication and teamwork, they were able to display their talent. During the first quarter, the score went back and forth until the girls stepped up their defense against the opposing team. By the end of the first quarter, the Lady Spartans were up 19-17, and ended up pulling out the win 61-51. As the season came to an end, their record was 19-5, with an unfortunate loss against the Lady Windsor Wizards in the playoffs. Going into the game, both the players and coaches were excited for the matchup. Head Coach Damion Allen said, “Windsor had been one of the top 4A teams all year and we felt all year that we were one of the top 4A teams, so it gave us a chance to show we belong with other top teams in the 4A division.” The girls fought long and hard but sadly couldn’t continue their journey in the playoffs. However, they hope to make it back into the playoffs next season.
All eyes were on the TJ’s boys’ Basketball team on Friday, January 22, as they faced the Rebels of South High School. Although it was a hard-fought battle, the Spartans could not get the win. However, the boys made up for this loss through several other successful games, including a well deserved win against the Trojans of Fountain-Fort Carson High School. After a long game, the boys were able to pull off the win with a score of 52-26. Though the boys had their highs and lows, the team still fought as one. Junior Ahamed Mohamed explained, “This season we stuck together as a team regardless of what the score was at the end of the day.” The boys battled the Windsor Wizards at Pueblo on Saturday the 27th, but sadly lost in the first round of the playoffs. Although they could not pull off the win, the coaching staff is proud of the effort and determination the boys showed. Varsity Assistant Coach Korey Raliford described, “Obviously we didn’t get the result we were hoping for, but I am proud of our kids and the effort they gave all season.” The boys ended the season with a record of 10-14 and hope to come back next season stronger than ever.
The Girls’ Swim Team also had a successful season this year. Led by Head Coach Justine Sullivan and Assistant Coach Allison Brown, the Lady Spartans took first place at B-League and third place at A-League. With multiple swimmers competing at A-League, the meet was filled with joy and support as those who were not competing came out to cheer on their fellow teammates. As the season continued, junior Sydney Gonzalez was the only member of the team to qualify for State in the 200 Individual Medley (IM), 100 fly, 100 Breaststroke, and the 200 freestyle. Gonzalez represented TJ with pride and received 9th in the 200 IM and 12th in the 100 Breaststroke. Overall, the team had a highly successful year, and the new coaches will be sure to take the team to the top next season.
Overall, this winter season shaped up nicely for TJ’s winter sports; although some teams had more fortune than others, each of teams will be ready and excited to take on whatever comes their way next season.