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Palmer Ridge senior Makenna West (15) and Arapahoe senior Rachel Kennedy (1) battle for the ball during field hockey quarterfinals game against Arapahoe High School at Don Breese Stadium in Monument on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. The Palmer Ridge Bears fell to Arapahoe by a score of 2-1. (Chancey Bush / The Gazette)

For midfielder Makenna West, the Gazette Preps field hockey Peak Performer of the Year, setting an example mattered. First to practice, last to leave – with good reason.

“She would always clean up. Even though I tried to get other players to do it, she would do it every single time,” Palmer Ridge coach Mallory Cuccio said with a laugh.

West made the varsity team as a freshman in spite of being a newcomer to the sport. As a sophomore she started becoming the “dynamic player” who would eventually be named a captain, Cuccio said, thanks in part to catch-up work on her own time.

An 11-3-2 senior season ended in the state quarterfinals against Arapahoe, a 2-1 overtime loss at home. West left the regular season with a team-high 347 steals – an average of 23.1 per game - to go with 2 goals and 3 assists. She had the overtime goal in a 1-0 win over Mountain Vista on Aug. 27.

West was cleaning up during games as well, making it a mission to prevent goals and corners.

“If I do make a mistake - if I get the ball stolen from me - I’ll try my best to hustle back and steal it back,” West said.

Through four seasons with the varsity team, West was reliably shifty.

“She was just somebody we knew, no matter how the game was going, she would be playing exactly the same, causing those turnovers,” Cuccio said. “Just a very skilled, technical player that makes it very hard for other teams to get around, so she ends up getting those steals quite a bit.”

West was headed out of town last weekend for a tournament while trying to narrow down potential college destinations. Her mother, Brandi, said several Division II and III schools were looking, in addition to a couple of Division I suitors. Makenna said she’s nervous to move up.

“But I am really excited to play at a little bit higher level,” she added.

“I really am going to miss being a Bear. It was the most amazing four years of my life. It's kind of sad, but I am excited to start a new chapter of my life.”

All-Area performers: 

Cheyenne Mountain senior, Kate Gassman

Liberty sophomore, Caroline Smith

Liberty senior, Siena Guttormson

Liberty senior, Summer Owen

Palmer Ridge senior, Hannah Hermann

Palmer Ridge senior, Juliana Strickling

Cross Country Peak Performers of the Year: Matthew Edwards, The Classical Academy and Nadhia Campos, The Vanguard School