GJ more re-lax-ed

Tigers boys lacrosse team finally rounding into form

Marques Combs has made the successful transition from soccer player to lacrosse player this season at Grand Junction. Combs, a Palisade High School student, is using his speed and skill to great effect in lacrosse.

Ike Meyer finally got his answer.

Tuesday, during the third quarter of the Grand Junction boys lacrosse team’s 8-5 win over Fruita Monument, Meyer’s name sounded over the loudspeaker.

“Isaac Meyer, will you please direct your attention to the stands,” Fruita Monument announcer Blaine McCormick called out.

There, flanked by two of her friends, was Grand Junction girls lacrosse player Delaney Robison. Earlier in the week, Meyer asked Robison to prom.

“Well, we’re friends, and he asked me to prom with balloons and a little note in my car while I was in work one day, so I wanted to do something cute and unexpected to say yes,” Robison said.

Insisting Meyer “knew I was going to say yes,” Robison and her friends held up large signs spelling out Robison’s answer. Meyer emerged from the huddle, and the midfielder had scored a date to prom.

For Meyer, life’s pretty good.

He’s part of a Tigers attack that has rounded into shape as the season has progressed. Grand Junction has won back-to-back games and four of its past five. Meyer is one of four players with at least four goals this season.

The two biggest surprises, however, have come from a soccer star and a freshman.

Marques Combs, a soccer standout at Palisade High School, leads Grand Junction with six goals this season. Combs scored two goals in the win over Fruita Monument and Tigers coach James States said Combs finally looked like a lacrosse player.

“We’ve been working on him for a long time,” States said. “The guy loves the game. He’s passionate about it. He’s fast and one hell of an athlete, so when he gets the ball he just goes. We’ve had coaches working with him trying to get him to calm down and be more of a lacrosse player while still channeling that insane speed he has.

“I’ll tell you, there was one practice where we just saw it click, and he’s been going ever since.”

The other pleasant surprise for the Tigers comes in a smaller-than-expected package. Xavier Renteria, a freshman midfielder, used to be one of the biggest players on his eighth-grade club lacrosse team. Possessing blazing speed, Renteria was one of the most dynamic freshmen entering the Colorado Mountain League.

The speed and skill are still there, but Renteria is only 5-foot-4. What he lacks in size at the high school level, he makes up for in discipline.

“It’s all fundamentals with him,” States said of Renteria. “With ground balls, you tell them, ‘Two hands, and you scoop through it.’ You watch most of these guys, they’re out here doing it one-handed and trying to do a little trick trying to pick it up. He’s there, two hands, every single time. He doesn’t make dumb mistakes. So, it’s nice to see a kid who is that young but fundamentally sound. He’s small, but he competes at this level.”

The Tigers will face their toughest test of the year, facing Steamboat Springs at 7 p.m. today at Walker Field. The Sailors are the only undefeated team remaining in Class 4A at 9-0.

Wild, Wild Wildcats

It’s hard to get a read on the Fruita Monument baseball team. The Wildcats have had games in which starting pitchers have been chased in the first inning. A few games later, the same pitcher could go six innings.

They’ve had games in which they’ve struggled to score runs, only to turn around and hang 18 runs on an opponent two days later.

Bottom line, the Wildcats win. Especially in league games, Fruita Monument finds a way.

The Wildcats have turned on the bats against the two best pitchers in the Southwestern League.

During a 12-1 SWL win over Central, which is ranked No. 10 in Class 5A in the latest Associated Press baseball poll, Fruita Monument scored five runs against Michael Price. Three of the runs were earned, and both totals are season-highs for Price.

Three weeks later, the Wildcats scored five runs against Montrose ace Tyrus Lopez on the way to a 5-4 SWL win.

Fruita coach Ray McLennan credited a disastrous trip to a New Mexico tournament, where all of the Wildcats’ gear was stolen off the team bus, as a reason for the cohesion.

“I thought the Farmington trip was big,” McLennan said. “You go through that kind of garbage down there — I mean, we had guys sharing cleats — if you don’t come out of that as a tight team, I don’t think anything will help. That kind of stuff can really divide a team, but I thought they really came together after that.”

Doing it with defense

After losing Cruz Maestas, the offensive catalyst for the Palisade girls soccer team, to an anterior cruciate ligament tear in her right knee almost a month ago, the Bulldogs have focused more on defense. Setting aside a 9-0 win over a struggling Rifle team, Palisade has won three of its past four games 1-0.

Defense and ball movement have been key, with Palisade coach Raina Sorensen lauding the Bulldogs’ ability to switch fields.

Thursday, although Palisade lost to Battle Mountain 4-0, they’re still in the hunt in a top-heavy 4A Western Slope League.

Battle Mountain lost to Glenwood Springs before beating Palisade. The Bulldogs edged Glenwood Springs 1-0 to open the season. The trio has proven to be the class of the league, with Steamboat Springs sitting near .500 and the rest of the WSL with losing records.


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