Elise Cranny set new Colorado all-classification records at 1600 and 3200 meters at this spring's state meet. Photo by Jeff McCoy.
Special to Colorado Track XC by Scott Stocker through the Colorado High School Coaches Association
Niwot’s Elise Cranny wasn’t at home when the first call was placed to tell her she was the winner of the 2014 Fred Steinmark High School Athlete of the Year for girls. But the second call was right on the button.
“I was so surprised,” Cranny said when she found out she was the winner. “There are so many girls who have excelled and I’m so honored to have won. The list of previous winners is marvelous and to be now included is precious.”
Even though the Steinmark carries 'Athlete of the Year' designation, it actually recognizes a high school career. It is an all-classification award and through the decades, all classifications, boys and girls, have had winners. It has become recognized as the most prestigious athletic award a graduating high school senior athlete can receive in Colorado and now sponsored by the Colorado High School Coaches Association.
This is the 41st year for the girls, but Cranny is the 42nd winner as there was one year, 1984, in which two girls were recognized. The first winner for the girls was Anne Vento of Pueblo Centennial in 1974.
David Sommers is the 45th winner for the boys as there were two winners selected in 1976 and 1979. It’s always nice to note the first winner was Dave Logan, who graduated from Wheat Ridge, played professionally with the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos. He would eventually become the radio voice of the Denver Broncos.
The Steinmark has become recognized as the most prestigious athletic award a graduating senior athlete can receive in Colorado. Even though the award carries 'Athlete of the Year' designation, it actually recognizes a career, and Cranny has certainly had a marvelous career in the high school ranks.
It is an all-classification award and through the decades, all classifications, boys and girls, have had winners. The winners of the Steinmark will be presented with the award at the Colorado High School Coaches All-State Games, June 13, in Alamosa.
There are four requirements to receive a nomination that can be made by any coach or school administrator. The rules for an athlete’s nomination require that two sports be played during an athlete’s high school career in which they must be All-State in one sport and at least All-Conference in another. They need to have carried at least a 3.0 grade point average, and be active in their school and community.
Steinmark was a brilliant scholar, athlete and citizen. He graduated from Wheat Ridge High School and while there won All-State and All-American honors competing for the Farmers in football, basketball and baseball. At the University of Texas, he helped the Longhorns win the National Title in football in 1969. His life was cut short as Steinmark died of cancer in 1971.
“The Steinmark award is of the upmost importance to me because it stresses the value of balance in life,” Cranny said. “Balance is something that I have always strived for. I have always found it a priority to be well rounded. Being a member of many different groups has allowed me to grow as a person.
“Each of the three athletic teams I have been a part of throughout high school are also all very different,” Cranny said. “By being a member of each of these three teams I have had the pleasure of hearing the life stories of many different individuals and I made lifelong friends that I would not have if I hadn’t been involved in athletics at Niwot High School.
“The Steinmark Award is important because it encourages students to be involved in many different athletic, academic, and community organizations,” Cranny wrote in her nomination letter. “The Award is also important to me because it recognizes student-athletes in the state and I have always enjoyed representing Colorado.”
In or out of the water, Cranny has been a splendid athlete at Niwot. Of course, she has done a lot better on dry land.
When it comes to cross country, Cranny has it down to perfection. She has been the Northern Conference Athlete of the Year, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and league champion these three same years. But, she has been the Regional Champion the last four and Class 4A state champion the last two.
Cranny has the fastest high school 5,000 meter time on Colorado soil ever in cross country for a high school female. She was named the Female Cross County Athlete of the Year by Gatorade in 2012 and 2013 and well as the Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year in Cross County.
When it comes to girls track in Colorado, Cranny has been unbeatable to past two seasons. She has won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 state titles the past two seasons and is the Colorado record holder in all three events. Not only that, she had the second fastest outdoor 1,500-meter for a female high school runner in the nation in 2014 (4:10.95). Recently, the Niwot High School girls track team has been unbeatable as well, having won back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014.
And, when it comes to indoor track, bar the door. Cranny is the National Champion in the New Balance Indoor in 2013 and 800 National Champion in the New Balance Indoor in 2014. Then, Cranny is somewhat of a pretty good swimmer, too, and has helped the Niwot relay teams place several times in the state meets. She has been All-Conference the past two seasons and has helped the Cougars 200 Freestyle Relay team gain All-American consideration.
“As an athlete, an academic, and as a person of character, Elise is simply exemplary,” wrote Niwot teacher Andrew Roberts. “I can say without hesitation that she is one of the highest regarded students I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. Her teammates look to her as a model of hard work and performance and get the additional benefit of witnessing her unwavering humility.
“She has leveled the gender gap between the teams and serves as a motivator to all of the young men and women who run with her, admire her and aspire to be more like her,” Roberts said. “Even with all the true excellence Elise displays in her athletics and academics, her character still stands out as a model of distinction,” Roberts said. “It is uncommon to know a young person of such high achievement and potential who still addresses the world with poise and humility.”
Niwot swim coach, Sarah Stamp, also had high regard for Cranny. “Elise approaches life with a positive attitude and is rarely seen without a smile on her face,” Stamp wrote. “She puts her full effort into all she does. No one is harder on Elise, than Elise herself. She is a strong team member and contributor. Elise’s hard work, dedication and motivation have propelled her to many successes athletically and personally.”
United States Government and Politics teacher Mary Peterson knows Cranny’s personality well.
“Her focus on her sports equals her academic dedication,” wrote Peterson. “Her ability to reach into some deep reserve of strength is an inspiration to witness. She encourages others and is very humble about her own considerable accomplishments. Overall, Elise is an extremely conscientious and able student. Her most remarkable asset is her dedication to excellence in all she does.”
It is a difficult task to select the finalist for the award out of the many youngsters who have been nominated by coaches throughout the state each year. The winners are selected by a panel of high school coaches and administrators, but no coaches or administrators from the schools of the nominees are allowed to participate in the selection process.
There are much too many accomplishments to be listed by the finalists at this time, but here is a quick rundown of a small portion of their accomplishments. And with them, the Steinmark family sends its congratulations, not only to Sommers and Cranny, but to all of this year’s nominees.
Sierra Galbreath, Ralston Valley
Galbreath was named the Jefferson County 5A MVP for all Female Sports in 2014 and had been selected the Jeffco 5A softball Player of the Year in 2013. She also has earned first-team Academic All-State honors throughout her career on the diamond. She has been a three-year letter winner in basketball and was second team All-Conference this past season. She also excelled on the track for the Mustangs earning All-League honors the past two seasons while setting the school record in the 100 hurdles. During the summer, she has also been accredited as one of the state’s best softball players earning numerous honors. She has a 4.0 grade point average while excelling in Calculus and Chemistry. She is very active in Kids Day Out, a program that provides respite babysitting for parents of foster children and very active in summer softball camps. She will attend Colorado State University with a scholarship to play softball.
Claire Green, Monarch
Green has excelled in cross country, track and swimming the past four seasons at Monarch and on the national scene. She is the school record holder in the 5K (17:52) and has individually earned All-State honors in cross country the past three seasons while helping her team win three state titles and a 5th place finish in last season’s Nike Cross County National Championships in Portland, Oregon. She has been a state qualifier in swimming in the 50-Freestyle while also helping her teammates gain state appearances in t the 200 and 400-meter relay events. She has several Podium finishes in state track standing out in the 800 and 1,600-meter events as well as with teammates on the relay teams. She was the Founder of the MOHI Black Student Union at Monarch, active on the schools Diversity Panel and works as a volunteer for the Blue Sky Bridge Child & Family Advocacy Center. She has a 4.133 grade point average and will further he athletic and academic career at the University of Arizona.
Lindsey Moss, Fowler
Basketball and Volleyball have been at the top of the athletic list for Moss having been a varsity standout throughout her career. She has been selected All-Colorado the past two seasons in volleyball and was the 2A Player of the Year this past season. She has played club volleyball the past four seasons helping her team qualify for the National Age Group Tournament following her sophomore season. She was the President of the Student Council this past year, has been active in the community Try Random Acts of Kindness the past four years, Future Business Leaders and has been a volunteer coach for ;youth volleyball and basketball camps in her community. She graduates as the Valedictorian at Fowler with a 3.98- weighted grade point average and among her academic honors has been the Ronald Regan Student Leader Award and the University of Colorado Outstanding Junior Award. She is now headed for the University of Wyoming.
Erin Norton, Grandview
Norton has been a standout for Grandview in Cross Country and Track through much of her high school career and certainly in the classroom as she graduates with a 4.66 grade point average. The only drawback was an injury in track this last season that put a halt to her having a stellar finish. She finished third in state in cross country last season after a sixth-place finish as a junior and was a Nike Cross County National Qualifier. On the track, she holds school records in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter events. She was the league champion in the 1,600 and finished second in state as a junior, and seventh in the 3,200. She is very active in the school band playing the clarinet and in the Jazz Band while also playing the piano. She served as President in the Spanish Honors Society at school, and has been very active with several groups within her community. She was a Girls State Delegate and named a winner of the Masonic Lodge Excellence in Academics and Leadership Award. Her college choice is still undecided.
OTHER 2014 GIRLS NOMINEES
Natalie Anderson, Hotchkiss
Kristen Berg, Brush
Jenifer Celis, Hotchkiss
Emily Dellenbach, Valley
Sabra Ross, Elizabeth
Mallory Seemann, D’Evelyn
Greta Sloan, Cheyenne Mountain
Chelsea Vallejos, Lamar
Taylor Wertz, Lamar