2012 Routt County High School Sports Awards: Rising stars

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Hayden

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Hayden's Jordan Temple celebrates a point Saturday as the Tigers split a doubleheader at home against North Park and Paonia.

■ Jordan Temple

Jordan Temple wasted no time last season establishing herself as one of Hayden’s very best volleyball players. That she was able to do that as a freshman is nothing but exciting for Tigers fans. Temple had plenty of help from upperclassmen in her first season. Some of those faces will change for her sophomore season, and her role will become even more important. It’s a lot to ask a sophomore to lead a program, but in just one year, Temple has proved she’s athletically capable.

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Hayden's Jorge Valdez puts a shot up Saturday against Vail Christian.

■ Jorge Valdez

Jorge Valdez, set to be a senior, may seem out of place as a “rising star,” but as valuable as he was in all three sports seasons he participated in, there’s evidence he still has room to improve. He played receiver on the football team and was a beast in basketball, rebounding and blocking shots on par with the best in the state. Consider his track season, though: He didn’t start high jumping until the final month of the season. He then finished fourth in the event at the state track meet. Valdez has had a great season, but there’s no telling what another year could do.

Soroco

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Soroco's Ryan Jeep gets above the crowd for a shot on Friday against Plateau Valley.

■ Ryan Jeep

Ryan Jeep took on important roles for Soroco sports teams in his sophomore season, shining in football and basketball as well as baseball, which he played for Steamboat Springs High School. Going forward, he has the potential to be a season-changing athlete for those squads. The boys basketball team was at its best when Jeep — thick and tall but quick, as well — was in rhythm in the paint. As he continues to add experience, he will only grow more powerful and comfortable. That’s bad news for opponents.

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Soroco's Jessica Rossi runs Friday in the 1,600-meter relay at the state track meet in Lakewood.

■ Jessica Rossi

Soroco’s 2011-12 sports teams were filled with experienced seniors. Jessica Rossi could be in prime position to help fill some of the many gaps expected to open up next season. She shined most in track during her freshman season, qualifying for state in three events. And considering what she was able to do in support roles in volleyball and basketball, she is likely to see a flood of playing time in those sports next season.

Steamboat

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Maggie Crouch was named a rising star in the Steamboat Pilot & Today's 2012 Routt County High School Sports Awards.

■ Maggie Crouch 

Maybe no player has the chance to swing the tides of Steamboat girls sports more than junior-to-be Maggie Crouch. She’ll be expected to fill in as a middle in volleyball and could make the girls basketball team a force. As one of the tallest and most athletic players, Crouch has shown glimpses of what she can be. Should she start to reach some of her potential, Steamboat athletics greatly will benefit. 

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Steamboat's Carter Kounovsky looks for a way out of D'Evelyn's full-court pressure Friday during the Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out. The Sailors didn't have much luck against the high-pressure Jaguars, falling, 93-52.

■ Carter Kounovsky 

Junior-to-be Carter Kounovsky made quite an impression this season. The soft-spoken athlete made his presence known during the fall season in goal for Steamboat. He quickly solidified the position and became a vocal leader. On the basketball court, Kounovsky started and took his lumps early. By the end of the season, however, Kounovsky turned himself into an all-league player. 

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