Prep notebook: Brunner competes at New Balance Indoor Nationals and Vail Christian girls soccer wins season opener
Eagle Valley girls lacrosse falls to Fruita Monument in home opener
Coming off an 0-9 season which included only three goals, Vail Christian’s new girls soccer coach, Andrea Juskaitis, had a pretty straightforward message for her athletes going into 2023: take shots.
“My whole focus this year is to have these girls experience the confidence of what it’s like to take shots and score goals,” Juskaitis said. It’s safe to say that after Thursday’s 10-0 season-opening win at Lotus School for Excellence, the Saints are headed in a new direction.
“It was just like the light switch went on and all of a sudden they were all like, ‘OK, if we just take shots, we can do this,'” continued Juskaitis, who coached high school soccer in California and Utah and is in her second year as an English teacher at Vail Christian.
Vail Christian got on the board at the 18th minute when Lindsey Whitton scored the first of her game-high five goals. Five minutes later, she turned around for her second.
“After that, I think the girls realized they can do this and had the self-confidence,” Juskaitis said.
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Five Saints notched goals, including Daisy Palacio, Rebecca Florez, Rosa Vela and Samantha Laredo.
“There was lots of good passing, good communication — all the things we’ve been practicing for the last week and a half,” Juskaitis stated.
Palacio, who played goalie all of last season, was in the net for the first half before being replaced by freshman Kenzie Keyes. The co-captain, along with Steele McClinton, scored on a penalty kick.
“Daisy’s going to be a force to be reckoned with,” Juskaitis said. “She’s an incredibly powerful, strong soccer player. She’s got a strong presence on the field, she’s a great leader on the field — so I wanted to get her onto the field as much as possible.”
The Saints return to action after the school’s spring break with a visit to Rifle on March 23.
“The competition is obviously going to get harder, but the confidence is there,” Juskaitis said.
“Yesterday was such a high for all of us. It was so emotional.”
Lacrosse notes: Eagle Valley girls fall in season-opener
Eagle Valley girls lacrosse also opened the season Thursday, falling to Fruita Monument 13-5 in Gypsum. The Devils won’t have to wait long for another chance to get into the win column, as they host Grand Junction on Saturday at 11 a.m.
Track and field notes: Brunner competes at New Balance Indoor Nationals
Battle Mountain junior Will Brunner, who broke 15-minutes in the 5-kilometer distance twice during a breakout cross-country season, has parlayed his Nordic ski fitness into some early-season eye-popping times this winter. Brunner clocked an 8:35 at the BU Scarlet and White Invitational on Feb. 4 off a winter regimen of four to five runs a week.
“He ran 8:35 off of Nordic, running on ice, long runs, and we got him down to the front range and maybe did one track workout,” said head coach Rob Parish.
Brunner competed at the New Balance Indoor Nationals on Friday at The TRACK at New Balance in Boston, Massachusetts. The state-of-the-art 200-meter hydraulically banked indoor track featured wave pace lights set to 9:10-two-mile pace during Brunner’s event. Running in heat No. 5 of nine, the Vail Mountain student and Battle Mountain track and cross-country runner nestled into the top four for the first 400-meters but took the lead and pushed the group ahead of the lights until the 1200-meter mark.
After crossing the mile in 4 minutes, 37.46 seconds, Brunner’s pace slowed over the next three laps. He did, however, kicked it in, running a 66-second final quarter-mile to finish with a time of of 9:22.28 seconds. He placed eighth in his heat and 72 out of 133 athletes. A replay of the race video is available at nbnationalsin.com.