Rangeview coach Shawn Palmer, right, and son Cade pose with the Class 5A boys basketball state championship trophy March 9, 2019. The Raiders’ won the first team championship for an Aurora Public Schools district team since 1998, which was perhaps the highlight of a 2018-19 prep athletic season that saw Aurora programs win six teams state championships and 18 individual titles.(Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

Shortly after Rangeview lost to Eaglecrest in the 2016 Class 5A boys basketball semifinals, Colette Palmer looked at her son, Cade, and made an offhand joke.

While her husband, Cade’s father and Raiders coach, Shawn, dealt with the disappointment of another close call with a state championship, she put a hopeful spin on the future.

Three years later, sophomore Cade started and helped Shawn’s Rangeview team defeat Chaparral 61-47 in the 5A state championship game on March 9 at the Denver Coliseum.

“When we left the CU Events Center in 2016, my wife left with my son, who was a seventh grader at the time, and she just said ‘I guess Dad’s not supposed to win a state championship until you are on the team,” Shawn Palmer recalled with a grin. “They laughed at it this morning and it was premonition because it came true.”

The Palmers winning a state championship together added unique flavor to Rangeview’s athletic history.

Interestingly enough, the school’s only other boys basketball state championship came 34 years earlier courtesy of another father-son combo in Terry Taylor Sr. and Terry Taylor Jr.

The Taylors won the 1985 AAA state title together and Terry Taylor Sr. coached until 2003 when he was succeeded by Palmer, the only other coach in the school’s 36-year history.
Terry Taylor Sr. — who ironically enough was on the Eaglecrest coaching staff when it stopped Rangeview in that 2016 season — was onhand to watch Rangeview’s victory.

“I talk to Coach Taylor every once in awhile and I saw him in the stands tonight,” Cade Palmer said. “It’s amazing for all of us.”

SO MANY STATE TITLES

Rangeview’s long-awaited and much-appreciated state championship stood out as the most monumental moment in a 2018-19 athletic season filled with tons of team and individual success for Aurora’s prep programs.

In all, city schools claimed six team state titles (besides Rangeview, the Regis Jesuit boys won baseball, boys tennis and ice hockey and the girls took field hockey while Grandview took girls soccer) and 18 individual state crowns.

Rangeview’s title stood out for so many reasons, however.

From a district standpoint, Rangeview became the first APS team state champion of any sort in more than two decades. The previous state title also came on the hardwood when the Hinkley boys won 4A in 1998.

From a school standpoint, a Rangeview team hadn’t hoisted a state championship trophy for a quarter century. The Raiders last crown came from the girls soccer team, which topped the now-defunct 6A classification in 1994.

With a good core returning, Rangeview can take aim at becoming the district’s first repeat state winners since the Aurora Central girls track team took AAA titles in 1988 and 1989.

Among all of Aurora’s team state champions, the Regis Jesuit field hockey team was the only one that hadn’t won before. The Raiders took their first title in dramatic fashion on Lauren Pendergast’s penalty stroke conversion in overtime to top undefeated Cherry Creek.

The Regis Jesuit baseball and boys tennis teams also triumphed over Cherry Creek for their third and fourth all-time state championships, respectively.

Among veteran winners, the Regis Jesuit ice hockey team skated to its sixth all-time state title — all under head coach Dan Woodley — with a win over Dakota Ridge at Pepsi Center and the Grandview girls soccer team won its fifth all-time state title and fourth in the last five years (with a 2-1 win over Arapahoe at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park), with coach Tari Wood overseeing all those titles as well.

Individually, Regis Jesuit athletes accounted for 10 of the 18 state titles, including two apiece for seniors Zion Gordon (the Class 5A 100 meters and 110 meter hurdles) and Will Goodwin (5A 200 yard individual medley and 100 yard breaststroke, the latter coming with the Colorado state record).

The most unlikely Regis Jesuit state title came at the 5A state wrestling tournament, when sophomore Antonio Segura — who went 2-2 and missed the medal podium in his first trip to state — won the 145-pound bracket.

Segura shocked the Pepsi Center when he pinned Pomona’s Theorius Robison, who was aiming for a fourth career state title, in overtime of their semifinal match, then backed it up with a 2-1 win over Legacy’s Joey Joiner to win his first state championship.

Other first-time state champions for Regis Jesuit were senior Kosta Garger (No. 2 singles) and freshman Conor Kaczmarczyk (No. 3 singles) in boys tennis, junior Jada Surrell-Norwood (100 yard freestyle) in girls swimming and sophomore Quinn Henninger, the boys 1-meter diving winner.

Other Aurora first-time state titles came from Smoky Hill’s Valerie Negin (5A girls tennis No. 1 singles), Gateway’s Elijah Williams (5A boys 200 meters), Grandview’s Darrian Leu-Pierre (5A boys high jump), Grandview’s Alisha Davis (5A girls high jump), Vista PEAK’s Raina Branch (4A girls high jump) and Eaglecrest’s Langston Williams (5A boys 400 meters).

Aurora’s state championship veterans took care of business as well.

The Regis Jesuit doubles team of Evan Nuss and Emilio Gonzalez-Cruz played together for a third season and won a third state title with a No. 1 doubles tennis crown, while Grandview wrestling star Fabian Santillan cruised to a second state championship and Grandview’s Lily Williams repeated as the 5A girls 400 meter state champ.

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports