February 5, 2014 Updated: February 5, 2014 at 10:01 pm
Cheyenne Mountain's track and cross country teams are still reaping the benefits of their 4A state championship wins in 2011.
On Thursday, the school will honor nine of its senior athletes who are putting pen to paper to commit their athletic careers to Division I college programs. Four of those D-I commitments - Tristan Pelto, Colt Sessions, Greta Sloan and Grayson Webber - come from the school's cross country and track-and-field programs.
Pelto verbally committed to Baylor for cross country/track in November. Sessions is going to Duke, and Sloan heads to Cornell, also as cross country/track athletes. Webber, who excels in discus and shot put, is signing with Lipscomb University.
This year's foursome follows another impressive crop of D-I recruits from the same programs in 2013. The Indians had five cross country and track athletes sign last year, then had another work his way on to the team at North Carolina, making the D-I tally six.
This year's D-I picks were freshmen when Cheyenne Mountain's boys' and girls' cross country teams won state championships and the boys' track team won a state title. Sloan, Pelto and Sessions were on those title-winning teams. Coach Stan Lambros said the 2013 and 2014 grads have established a template of work ethic for the programs.
"It builds every year," he said. "And for the kids who come in, that's all they know. That group helped us establish what we do. These signings are a testament to that."
However, Pelto said the template had been set by athletes who came from classes five years ahead of his own, some of whom are now assistant coaches.
"We were all there to work hard and get results and have fun, whereas before it was just about having fun," said Pelto, who has been a cross country runner since seventh grade. "I hope to add to Baylor's team. I'm going to be one of the slower guys coming up there, but I'm OK with that. I just want to add to the team dynamic."
Pelto's best high school cross country time was 16 minutes, 12 seconds.
"I chose Baylor to go to Baylor, not to run," he said. "Getting to run there is just one more thing that makes it better."
Webber said seeing the track team's championship win four years ago was definitely fuel for his athletic fire over the seasons to come.
"We followed in their footsteps," said Webber, whose discus record is 140 feet. "It's really special to know you're a part of your school's history."
Lambros said the academic quality of the programs' athletes and their breeding as leaders easily attracts the eyes of D-I coaches. Their offseason work and year-round focus also has been key.
"Our coaches geared us up to be leaders for the team," Webber said. "I'm hoping, even though I'll be young, I can help bring that leadership mentality to Lipscomb."