Wiley Burkett stepped into a new role this year.
For the past two seasons, he played midfielder for the Cheyenne Mountain boys' lacrosse. He was hard to miss, helping set up the offense and scoring plenty of goals.
This year, he became an attacker and a focal defensive point for many opponents.
So far, it appears that he's in his natural position.
Last week, he scored seven goals and recorded five assists in wins over Evergreen and Lutheran. Those performances helped lead the Indians to an 8-2 overall record and a 3-0 mark in the Class 4A Southern League.
His efforts landed him this week's The Gazette Preps Peak Performer.
"He's been phenomenal," Indians coach Mike Paige said. "He's absolutely key in leadership — he's the captain of the team — and as far as game performance. He's a vital part of our team."
Burkett's impressive play is not new to people familiar with lacrosse in Colorado. He scored a goal in the Indians' 8-6 win over Dawson School in last year's 4A state title game. It was the program's first championship.
He finished his junior season with 29 goals and 17 assists.
So far, Burkett has already surpassed last year's tallies with 34 goals and 21 assists through just 10 games. His goal total is third best in the state — behind Durango's Cullen Robinette (43) and Grand Junction's Josh Newhouse (35).
"I credit my teammates getting me open and my coaches helping me get ready for games," Burkett said.
This year, he's made himself into a target because of his play. And the Indians are happy that he's in his new role. They lost 10 seniors from last year's team to graduation — including attacker August Johnson, who now plays at Air Force.
But this year's Indians seem to be doing just fine. Their two losses came against two strong programs during a tournament in Virginia. But in Colorado, it's been a different story as Cheyenne Mountain has rolled through teams, including 5A's Grandview (7-1).
"I didn't expect us to be this strong this quick," said Burkett, a signee with Division II's Limestone College in South Carolina. "But I think we can make a run for the state championship again."
Just the Facts
Wiley Burkett, Cheyenne Mountain
Sport: Boys' lacrosse
Highlights: The senior has been one of the most consistent players for the defending state champions Indians. Burkett had seven goals and five assists in wins over Evergreen and Lutheran last week, helping Cheyenne Mountain to an 8-2 overall record. Their two losses this season came against out-of-state competition.
Favorite athlete: Dejounte Murray
Favorite pumpup song: Tory Lanez's "Shooters"
Favorite team: The Syracuse men's lacrosse team
Favorite school subject: Social studies
Other Top Performers
Riley Cornelio, Pine Creek
The senior threw a two-hit shutout to lead the Eagles in an 11-0 win over Doherty in Class 5A/4A Colorado Springs Metro League action last week. He also had eight strikeouts in the shortened, five-inning game to help Pine Creek to a perfect 3-0 record in league play.
Rodney Gregg, Peyton
In perhaps his team's toughest challenge so far, the senior hit a three-run homer to help the Panthers out of an early 1-0 deficit in nonconference play against Cornerstone Christian Academy and win 5-2 last Friday. He also had two strikeouts in three innings of relief for Peyton, which improved to 10-0 this season.
Jazmin Harris, Rampart
The senior scored two goals apiece in the Rams' 10-0 and 6-0 shutout wins over Palmer and Grand Junction Central last week to help Rampart to a perfect 6-0 record entering this week. Harris and three other Rampart players — Grace McReynolds, Jordan Garrett and Aspen Brandich — have four goals each as Ashleigh Decker leads the team with six.
Bea Hill, Widefield
The sophomore exploded for four goals in the Gladiators' 7-1 win over Florence last Saturday. Hill also had an assist for Widefield (3-7), which snapped a five-game losing streak. So far, she leads her team with nine goals and two assists.
Boys' swimming and diving
Raglan Ward and Gabe Grauvogel, Cheyenne Mountain
The freshman and senior duo won a pair of events each at the Hornet Invitational to lead the Indians to first place with 376 points, more than 100 points ahead of runner-up Pueblo County. Ward took first in the 100-yard backstroke and 200 individual medley, while Grauvogel captured titles in the 200 and 500 freestyles
Girls' track and field
Ashlyn Ventimiglia, Cheyenne Mountain
The senior ran away with the titles in the 200- and 400-meter races at the Pikes Peak Athletics Conference championships last week, helping the Indians to a second-place finish behind winner Palmer Ridge.