Over the course of 32 years as a sports writer, I have covered tens of thousands of prep athletes. The majority of them never played an organized game beyond high school.
It’s always a joy to see many of these young men and women move onto the college ranks. Just the fact that they are playing at any collegiate level is exciting. The crème de la crème play Division I.
It’s always baffled me how few college athletes actually compete all four years, at any level. I understand the many reasons why it is difficult to compete four years; factors like the demands of classes and injuries come into play.
Nicole Montgomery (Lewis-Palmer Class of 2015) is one such star who will compete at the Division I level for four years. Montgomery has starred for the Kansas track-and-field team since she was a freshman.
Montgomery is a part of several relay teams that have established Jayhawks records. Most recently, she helped the distance medley relay team to an indoor record this winter.
Montgomery has remained pretty healthy throughout her career and should have a banner outdoor season.
In recent years, a few other former Lewis-Palmer athletes competed for four years at the Division I level. Those who come to mind are Alexa Smith (Purdue/Colorado, volleyball), Josh Scott (Colorado, basketball) and Jordan Scott (Idaho, basketball).
Josh Scott was playing professionally in Japan the last I heard.
MacKenzie Gouner, a former Palmer Ridge soccer star, quickly comes to mind when I think of other four-year Division I stars from our area. She completed her senior season for the Tennessee women’s soccer team last fall.
Gouner played in 75 games in her career, making 52 starts. She started all 20 of the Volunteers’ games last season. A defender, she had one career goal and nine assists.
By the way, Gouner was a track star in high school, as well. She qualified for the state meet as a sprinter.
Justin Smith (Alexa’s older brother) began his college basketball career at Division I Idaho State and finished his final two years at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He is now a Rangers assistant coach.
Not-so-recent Lewis-Palmer athletes who played four years of college sports were Pat Garrity (Notre Dame, basketball), Bobby Burling (Loyola Marymount, soccer) and Danielle Page (Nebraska, basketball).
All three of them played professionally and have their jerseys hanging in a hallway near the Lewis-Palmer gymnasium.
I would like to run a list of our former Tri-Lakes area stars who’ve competed in four years of a college sport from NAIA to Division I. This can be from any point in history. Please feel free to shoot me an email if you know of any.
Danny Summers has covered sports at all levels in the Pikes Peak region since 2001. Send your story ideas and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.