Aug 9, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorRustlers volleyball and cross country will headline as the new school year starts.
As the leaves change colors before falling to the ground on the campus of Central Wyoming College, a brand new athletic season will get underway, not the least of which will be the Rustlers' volleyball squad and cross country team.
However, before the fruits can be harvested, the seeds must be sown while it's still summer.
Both teams have arrived and reported for duty as the respective rosters begin to prepare for a new campaign, one which will see them venture out and compete against competition as rugged as the landscape they cover.
For the Lady Rustlers, they have a new leader in head coach Darshaya Gallard, who brings an impressive resume as a player and assistant coach to her first bench boss opportunity.
The Orange-and-Black are coming off a campaign which saw them compile a 7-17 overall record, including 1-11 in Region IX North play, with the season coming to a conclusion with a 14-match losing streak.
Returners for Gallard include sophomores Alyssa Barkhurst, Kayla Coles, Kassi Falslev, Lauren Gamblin, Brooklenn Thompson and Bailey Wilson.
Gone are Kenisha Muehler and Andjela Cutovic, who formed a dynamic duo across the Central front line the past two seasons, but Gallard has brought in some exciting young players to fill the void left by the departing veterans.
One of the top additions is 6-foot-1 middle blocker Jensen Paris, from Sparks, Nevada, who will bring size to the net to go along with Coles, combining for a formidable force up front.
The players arrived on campus on Sunday and will undergo a rigorous preseason camp covering four weeks, with their first competitive action a scrimmage at Laramie County Community College, where they will face the hosts, as well as Western Wyoming Community College on Aug. 18-19.
Rustlers head coach Al Lara has assembled what looks to be the strongest side he has fielded in the four-year history of the program.
Sophomores Duncan Makin, Jessica Stewart and Rebekah Hutchison return from last season's squad, along with a crop of newcomers who will bolster the roster.
Dominic Twomey of Rocky Mountain High School in Cowley and Mountain View's Lukas Mathews headlines the men's side.
Twomey finished fifth at the Class 2-A state championships in Sheridan his senior season as a Grizzly, while Mathews was 12th in the Class 3-A state title race.
Both runners will look to build on their high-school success at the collegiate level.
On the women's side, Stewart and Hutchison, both Riverton High School alums, will take to the trails for Lara's squad with an entire season of college experience already under their respective belts.
Central will begin its season with a meet at South Dakota School of Mines on Sept. 2.
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