The Saratoga Sun -

Fall sport athletes receive All-State/All-Conference honors


Nine Platte Valley student athletes received All-State or All-Conference recognition for their 2013 fall sports season performance.

Athletes who received All-State included Saratoga High School cross country runners Cameron Collamer and Ben Falk, Saratoga High School golfer Braxton Schwartzkopf and Encampment High School volleyball player Alyssa Barkhurst.

All-conference placers consisted of Barkhurst, Jenny Morgan and Sierra Loftice, of the Encampment volleyball team. The Saratoga Lady Panthers also boasted three All-Conference players, including seniors Heather Oxford and Shelby McGuire, and junior Veronica Lincoln.

Alyssa Barkhurst

Barkhurst received First Team All-Conference and All-State with the volleyball team, which made 2013 a banner year for the young sophomore. With high school track last spring, she also received All-State for first place in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes, and she also received All-Conference honors.

Barkhurst said she was proud to have already accomplished so much within her freshman and sophomore years.

"It was one of my goals and it has been since freshman year, and I knew it was what I wanted to do in all my sports," she said. "With track that was my goal and with volleyball it was my goal, and it feels awesome to achieve it. For volleyball, it feels pretty awesome and it's really humbling to know that I was chosen out of all the other 1A players in the state. It wouldn't be possible without my coaches and the support we got from the community and the school."

According to Barkhurst, her drive and playing abilities were what got her noticed, and she thanked everyone who supported and helped her throughout the entire season. She was also grateful for her team's fourth-place state ranking out of eight 1A teams.

"It feels really good after working so hard, especially my freshman year," Barkhurst said. "It feels awesome because I worked my butt off freshman year, and this year it definitely paid off. It also feels awesome because we had a really young team with only two seniors, so it feels awesome to prove to people that with only two seniors we made it to state and got fourth. We hadn't made it to state in seven years, so it feels really cool to finally be on the team that brought that back."

With two more high school volleyball seasons ahead, Barkhurst said she hoped the team can keep up a tradition of going to state each year.

"I hope we can start a streak of going to state and doing well and placing," she said. "I definitely want to go back, because once you're there it changes you and you want to go back each year. Next year if we don't go I'm going to be really sad because it's really fun. Once you play under the big lights and on the big floor you get kind of addicted to it, and you just really want to go back."

Braxton Schwartzkopf

Schwartzkopf, a junior golfer, made All-State from placing third at the 2A State Tournament. He received a total of 165 points from the two-day tournament, which took place at the end of September in Sundance.

Cameron Collamer and Ben Falk

For the cross country boys, seniors Cameron Collamer and Ben Falk received All-State honors for making the top 10 at their state meet in Sheridan. Collamer placed fifth with a time of 17:50.42, while Falk placed 10th with a time of 18:10.21.

Like Barkhurst, Collamer and Falk also received All-State and All-Conference placings during the 2013 track season.

"It's an amazing feeling," said Collamer, who has been on the cross country team since he was a freshman. "For the past couple of years with Saratoga's cross country team, we've only had one person get up into All-State, and to finally have a teammate to be up there is really great. It was such a tough field and a fast field up there, with Wyoming Indian and Lovell. With the level of competition, to be able to place that high we felt pretty accomplished."

Falk said he felt an extra push to make the top 10 this year, after reaching 12th place at state as a freshman. He had not participated in cross-country as a sophomore or junior, and wished to make All-State for his final year on the team.

"My freshman year I got 12th place, and if you get 10th place you're All-State," Falk said. "I remembered that, and as I was coming up the hill Mr. Mason was yelling at me and he told me I was in 13th place. I knew I had to start working because I wasn't going to miss out again. I got 10th place barely and it was close, but I'm glad I pushed myself because it was worth it."

Falk said making state as a senior felt unimaginable, and was happy to have run faster than he had in previous races.

"Cameron cut off so much (from his usual time), and I did too," he said. "We had such a good team, and that's really what I enjoyed about the sport. We had fun times, for sure, and lots of memories."

Collamer also expressed positive feelings on what was his last-ever season of high school cross country.

"I'm definitely going to miss the coaches and all the teammates," he said. "I've become such a runner, and I'm the runner I am because of all the teammates that have pushed me. No great athletes come without a great coach and great teammates. I've had so many teammates who have just been amazing to me."

Sierra Loftice and Jenny Morgan

For the All-Conference placers, Loftice, a freshman, received All-Conference Honorable Mention, and Morgan, a senior, received Second Team All-Conference. This was the first time that both Morgan and Loftice had received an All-Conference honor.

"It feels good because it shows that other people noticed how hard you worked," Loftice said. "I think for both me and Jenny, we both showed we cared about our team and got them up when they were down."

Morgan said the recognition proved how helpful and needed she was to the team as a key player.

"It shows how dedicated you were to your team, and how you worked together with them," she said. "We didn't get upset with them when our team members messed up, and when we messed up we did our best to fix it. Another one of my strengths was having a good attitude throughout the whole time, and not getting down."

Loftice said one of her strengths was leading and building the team up when they were down.

"My greatest strength is being able to get the team up, step up and be a leader," she said. "For next year, I hope we just strive to do our best and play our hardest again."

After graduation, Morgan said she looks forward to playing more volleyball outside of high school. She also has high hopes for the team as they continue on without her.

"I'm still undecided, but I've been looking into the Navy and I've heard they have Navy sports," Morgan said. "I've been thinking about that. I also hope the team continues to go to state after I leave, and make it a tradition for our school."

Heather Oxford, Shelby McGuire and Veronica Lincoln

Saratoga High School volleyball coach Shayley Love said she was proud of Oxford, McGuire and Lincoln for earning All-Conference honors this year. The Lady Panthers missed out on state this year, but pulled in a respectable 16-12 season record for 2013.

"Heather led our team and was No. 1 with blocks, digs and kills," Love said. "She was a standout, and I'm very thankful she got recognized. She was a great all-around player."

Love said McGuire made the team's top five for assists and top 10 for serving and digs, while Lincoln also made the top 10 for digs.

"Shelby was a solid athlete, and Veronica was also a spark for us who did a nice job leading on defense," she said. "Those girls were all deserving of it, and I can think of more from the team who were also just as deserving. It was a great honor and I'm glad they were chosen."


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