Naish Gaubatz may have lost in the state championship match, but just making it there was quite an accomplishment.
The Air Academy senior and No. 3 singles player went farther than he thought he might in the 4A bracket before losing to Kent Denver's Casey Ross in the championship match.
"I thought Naish might have a special run in him; he's old school and likes to work very hard and is very dedicated," Air Academy first-year coach Matt Kiser said. "Not many people see his kind of style anymore and they don't know what to do with him. I thought he'd have a shot because he's a fighter and he's put in the time practicing."
Gaubatz was essentially a singles player in a doubles player's body. His unique style of volleying and going to net is something not many high school players see nowadays.
"My sophomore and junior years I played 3 doubles, so my volleys are at the same level or better than most singles players," Gaubatz said. "I knew if I played to my strengths it would make it hard for other players to face me. I was more comfortable with the way I play and enjoyed playing a different type of tennis."
Then again, Gaubatz isn't your typical high school senior. When he isn't hustling around a tennis court or hitting the books hard, he's working on obtaining his pilot's license.
He's only four hours away from the required 40 of flying time before becoming a licensed pilot. He's considering colleges such as Stanford, UCLA and USC, where he plans to study aeronautical engineering.
"Some people are incredibly talented, but they don't work hard," Kiser said. "But this guy works as hard as anybody, and he is also talented. He's always been an intense and motivated person. He went to the elementary school I teach at and I saw his work ethic when he was in fifth grade."
That work ethic took Gaubatz all the way to the state title match. After the loss he thanked everybody on the team for the season and for supporting him and was cheering for his teammates who still were in action.
"My goal was to reach the semifinals, and anything else was icing on the cake," said Gaubatz, who was a team captain and went 11-2. "I was happy to be in the finals, and the kid from Kent Denver was a better player than me, but I was pleased with the overall outcome of the season."
Kiser said that without Gaubatz's leadership and willingness to help out, his first season at the helm would've been much harder.
"I couldn't have managed the team the way I was able to without him there and he was my go-to guy for the way to do things or traditions and he led the kids at practice when I wasn't there," Kiser said. "For me, it was very gratifying to watch him play so well at state. He didn't waver in his style and it was great to see him have a chance."
OTHER STANDOUT PERFORMANCES
Tommy Lazzaro, Pine Creek
The junior quarterback threw for 248 yards and six touchdowns in a 70-27 rout of Sand Creek. The Eagles scored 21 points in each of the first three quarters to win their fourth game in a row and improve to 5-2, including 4-0 in the 4A Pikes Peak League.
Luke Lorenz, Discovery Canyon
The senior defeated Kent Denver’s David Mitchell 7-5, 6-4 to win the 4A No. 1 singles state championship. Lorenz was the lone area player to win a state championship in either classification.
Taylor Klee, Palmer Ridge
During the weekend’s 4A regional softball playoffs, Klee had a batting average of .778, with four home runs and nine RBIs. She helped lead the Bears to their second-consecutive 4A state playoff berth.
Matison Slider, Falcon
The sophomore slugger led Falcon to the regional championship game, where it lost 7-6 to Pueblo West. Slider tallied five home runs, 14 RBIs and eight runs scored in the Falcons’ last two games (according to Falcon's stats on Maxpreps.com), which included a 29-19 win over Widefield in the regional semifinals.
BOYS' CROSS COUNTRY
Eric Hamer and Tommy Herebic, Palmer Ridge
Hamer and Herebic finished 1-2 and Palmer Ridge placed four runners in the top seven of the boys’ 4A Pikes Peak Athletic Conference meet to dominate, winning with 38 points at Fountain Creek Regional Park.