• Editorial: Something Special

    He was 8 years old when I watched him zip across the pool for the first time.

    John Plutt had just won his first race, a short 25 yard dash, and he touched the wall before other children had reached half.

    Everyone on deck couldn’t help but stare at the small, skinny, kid with arms ten times too long for his body. He hopped clumsily out of the pool, a plucky grin on his face as his mother hurriedly rushed forward to wrap him in a towel. Even in the 90 degree summer heat, John was turning blue and shivering as he walked off to talk to our coach.

    Every swimmer, coach, and dedicated parent who got to witness this historic first dip into competition knew that they had just watched something- someone- special.

    Of course, at the time, none of us knew how special John would be.

    Fast forward a couple years, I’m 12 and John’s 10. We had been swimming together for two years now, and I had been there for every practice the kid had ever had. We were lane buddies, both of us just fast enough to swim with the senior group of our team, but not old enough to be part of the social circle that came with it. Obviously, getting ignored by the oh-so-inspiring high schoolers allowed for plenty of time for John and I to get to know each other. By the time I was in middle school, I had a second little brother, and a training partner for life.

    I remember when he made his first state time, it was at a winter meet, and we were some of the only kids who even swam during the winter for our small developmental club team. It was the 100 fly, I remember he broke 1:10, and I remember screaming so loud my voice was hoarse the rest of the day. He ran from behind the blocks to our coach, who sent him quickly over to his mom and I, who he attacked in the biggest hugs he could manage at the young age of 11.

    That was the moment John became something more, as a swimmer. He got hungry, he wanted to swim more events at state, and his work reflected that. He stopped playing other sports, and he decided he really loved swimming. As far as I know, he’s never looked back.

    That first state meet was the start of a long line of state meets, and lots of races that John won. I learned very quickly that John refused to lose.

    It was that desire, that dream to win, that propelled John to convince his family into letting him switch teams with me during his 6th grade year. We left for a more competitive environment, one where I could train with other girls my age, and John could try his might against some of the older year-round boys.

    So we left, we moved, and it was terrifying. I remember John being worried that the coach would be mean.

    Little did he know that Josh Cortese, our coach, would end up being the best person to prepare him for what was to come.

    Some of the biggest turning-point races in John’s life were at a small, summer-league meets.

    Josh decided to test John by making him swim in “The Open.”

    “The Open” age group, during summer, is for kids over the age of 15, but younger kids can be entered by their coaches. At 13, John happily accepted the challenge, he swam, and still swims, with these much older kids every day. He races them in practice, and he never backs down.

    He didn’t falter in the face of this bigger obstacle. He swam with kids almost five years his senior at that league meet, and for the first time ever John realized he was not limited to being good in his own grouping, He learned that, with hard-work, age really is negotiable. The older boys quickly took him into their ranks, and helped to train him to another level.

    During his eighth grade year, we carpooled to Pueblo County High School every day for swim practice. I got to tell him all about the joys of high school swimming, and I knew then he would make a splash in Pueblo. He was already competitive with the fastest kids in town, and he wasn’t even 15!

    That year, he won a state championship during club season in the 100 fly, and his confidence sky-rocketed. Watching him win that race was like watching him win his first 25. The same grin covered his face when he got out of the water, and the same kid who used to bargain with his parents for suckers in exchange for victories walked over to his mom and immediately said she owed him a whole coconut cream pie for winning. He didn’t focus on the swim, he just wanted some food.

    His first high school meet was characterized by people saying “Who is this kid?” immediately followed by “He’s a freshman!” I couldn’t help but smile every time someone realized what I had always known. There, right there, in this goofy 15 year old boy, was something very rare.

    I am inspired daily, by my swim-brother, who sets goals as soon as he breaks them. Who has never been complacent in victory, only working harder after a big win. A boy who, no matter the attention, always stays humble.

    Imagine every practice together, every tear shed, every sore muscle, and every huge “post-win” grin coming together at one time. Imagine every aspect of your history with a person coming to mind in a second. Imagine every moment of the past rushing in and intermingling with the present as every joking “I’m gonna win as a freshmen” becomes more than a possibility, more than just a dream.

    Saturday, May 19th, I watched my closest teammate, my family, touch the wall after the most important 100 fly of his life at the 4A state swim meet.

    Tears filled my eyes as the one appeared next to his name, and everybody else on deck watched as a lanky kid, turning blue from the cold, with arms still too long for his body received his medal. They were realizing what I’ve always known, “This kid is something special.”





  • Rabies Threat in Pueblo

    On Thursday, April 19, a woman and her family brought in their puppy that was having seizures. The staff at Mesa Veterinary Clinic went to work on determining a diagnosis. The dog was determined rabies positive after getting tested.

    Current practice manager and certified technician at Mesa Vet, Monica Harvey, explained, “It is possible for puppies to sometimes get seizures because they are so little.” They have high metabolisms and that can cause their blood sugar to drop. If their blood sugar levels drop too low, it can cause neurological complications, like seizures.

    In this case, the puppies blood glucose levels were normal and he was unresponsive to seizure medication. If he was suffering from just the seizures, he glucose levels may have been lowered. His lack to react to the medicine led the doctors to decide to euthanize the dog, because he was not getting any better.

    One of the symptoms of rabies is seizures. By following protocol, the clinic had to send the dog to the Health Department to determine if it was positive for the disease. The last positive domestic rabies case in Pueblo County was about 60 years ago, and this case breaks that streak.

    The biggest concern now is that rabies is zoonotic disease, meaning it can spread in between animals and people. At first, the woman claimed to have gotten the dog from an add online. It was later confirmed that they woman and her family lived downtown in Pueblo.

    It is hard to know how many people and other animals came in contact with the dog. Rabies is most commonly spread by the saliva from the infected animal. If someone has even a small paper-cut and they licked by the dog, they become at risk for contracting the disease. Because of this, one doctor and two technicians were sent to the emergency room for vaccinations.

    Newest reports have stated that the family had another dog but are refusing to euthanize it, despite it being unvaccinated and highly at risk for also getting rabies. The Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment and Animal Control are increasing efforts to find the dog to quarantine it. The family, however, is noncooperative with authorities.

    Image result for mesa vet clinic pueblo
    1616, 1124 20th Ln, Pueblo, CO 81006

    Mesa Veterinary Clinic offers rabies vaccinations for $12. Owners can sign a form to not even have to pay for an exam, just strictly for the vaccine. Walk-in appointments are welcome. See more on their website.


    The Southern Colorado Spay and Neuter Clinic offers the same service. This inexpensive vaccine guarantees a year of protection from the disease. There is more information on their website.


    1700 S Prairie Ave, Pueblo, CO 81005

  • Boy’s Unified Swimming: For the Love of the Sport

    For Unified Boy’s Swim Coach, Diane Petkoff, everything is about the smiles. “I do everything I do for those happy faces,” said the Pueblo West High Security Guard in her office, pointing at a picture on the wall of four boys, each of them grinning from ear to ear.

    These four boys were the start to a program that has almost doubled in size since it’s creation, with 2018’s unified team consisting of seven members. “The growth has been the best part,” said Petkoff, “It’s through the support of people like [Pueblo West High School Athletic Director] Jamie Wagoner, and Jennifer Alfonso, who’s the Special Education Director for District 70, that we can even have a program like this.”

    Athletes; Taylor Salisburg, Isaiah Piazza, Nathanial Gonzalez, Eddie Weiger, Rylee Santisteven, Tony Taibi, and Jaeden Wagers, are all students at Pueblo West High School, and in every picture, share the same huge, toothy, grins as the four in the oldest picture hanging on the office wall. Taibi, the most social of the group, was quick in stating, “I love swimming! It’s my favorite time of year.”

    The importance of unified teams like the swim team at Pueblo West is simply that; the love of the sport. “Every year, it amazes me how happy the boys are just to get in and swim. It’s not for glory, it’s not for time. Their goals are small; completing a 50 yard swim without help, or swimming without a floatation belt,” said Petkoff.

    Practices with the team are relatively short, a 45 minute session once a week on Monday’s at the local regional pool, where the team practices alongside instructors from the Cyclone’s varsity girl’s swim team; Keely Fisher, Zoi Langreder, Maddie Derting, Brooke Holdredge, Isabell Osborne, Portia Roybal, Kylee Lamas, and Brooklyn Phillips. The boys work on improving their swimming abilities, gradually moving up to the ultimate goal; swimming a 50 yard freestyle without any help.

    Salisbury, Piazza, and Santisteven all have accomplished this goal, with Salisbury even being able to compete at varsity meets in non-exposition events. Gonzales, Wagers, and Weiger all use a belt but can swim unasisted. Taibi, had, until the meet vs. Cenntenial during the 2018 season, had needed a belt and a second swimmer in the water to assist. However, at this duel, a duel like any other for most swimmers, Taibi kicked a 50 by himself.

    “It felt really good, I’m glad I could do it by myself,” said Taibi after his event, overjoyed with the fact he made it across the pool and all the way back without assistance.

    Petkoff mentioned, “We’re working with Tony to get him into the shape to swim at state completely without Brook’s help.” The Team will be continuing work for the rest of the season, working up to a swim at the CHSAA 4A state championship meet before the finals of the 50 freestyle, as well as the SCL league championships.

    “I’m just glad to be doing this work,” said Petkoff, “The cheers at state, and the smiles whenever they get to practice or out of the pool, it warms my heart.”


  • Girls 2018 Soccer

    It’s that time of the year again! The weather is playing a game of hot and cold and it is the start of the girls’ 2018 soccer season.

    Tim Decker, the girls’ varsity head coach, has added a new member to the soccer family this season, Danelle Dondelinger. She is currently a senior at CUSP, and has come to help push the girls to be their best.

    On top of this addition, Maddison Newbauer, a PWHS senior, has also joined the team, and has successfully made varsity only two years after her introduction to soccer, just as Ashlynn Young, a sophomore, has.

    The team has made both gains and losses this season, from losing around twelve seniors, to gaining multiple skills from the whole team.

    Bryn Decker, senior captain, agrees and said, “This season we definitely just seem more focused. More seriousness and more drive to want to win and want to do well, and even deep down want to win SCL. This is the first high school team that I’ve played on at Pueblo West that knows we are good, and knows the things we can accomplish.”

    Both the Varsity and JV teams are full of extraordinary talent and sportsmanship this year, and are working their way up to play offs.

    The varsity team was recently sent spiraling with enthusiasm on the night of March 15, 2018, for they took the win against South.

    This is the first year since 2012 that our girls PWHS soccer team has beat South the first game playing them of the season. This was a huge victory for the girls, as it was a 2-1 lead, and is definitely going down in PWHS history.

    When asked about how the win over South will affect the team for the rest of the season, Lydia Fair, junior captain, replied, “I think winning against south gave the team confidence that we didn’t have before. It’s been years since Pueblo West won the first ‘south vs west’ game, so it proved that we have ability this season. The fact that we dominated in possession as well, proves that all we need is confidence and we can win anything. I really think that was the page turner for our team.”

    The girls are now ready to repeat this win over the course of the season and are prepared to fight all the way. So, go support the girls PWHS varsity and JV team, both schedules are located on the PWHS athletics page.

  • Editorial- The “March for Our Lives”: The first step in a revolution

    March for Our Lives is a movement, led by students, that advocates for stricter gun control laws. The campaign made their debut on March 24 in Washington D.C., also inspired conventions around the country, and even the world. Many students from the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida spoke about their experiences; there were more brave speakers that discussed the gun violence happening in their own city.

    Students leading this campaign were fed up with waiting for someone to address the firearm brutality and fear they go to class with everyday. In their mission statement, on their website, They explain that politicians advise that in light of recent shootings, now is not the time to talk about guns; the students disagree. They claim that student safety is not a political issue and they have no intention of making it one.

    The March for Our Lives movement, that brought the nation together, is just the beginning of a revolution, sparked unfortunately by terrible events that have already made their mark in 21st century American history. In the future, it is dubious that a generation that has already left such a prominent impact will just stop after one national event. The movement marks the first step in an uprising that will consist of standing up to the administration and leaving a booming echo that will ripple down through future generations and ignite a fire in them to also make their voice heard.

    The positives of this movement include showing Congress and the President that citizens have a passionate voice, and have no fear to share it. This is another instance where the country has come together over one issue or opinion, which shows the unity within the United States borders; the people that joined in this movement ignored their differences to support a vital issue.

    A possible negative outcome of this movement is the survivors speeches and the ideas presented in them are now vulnerable to the harsh cross-examination and ridicule from the opposition. The ones that disagree with the cry for reformed firearm laws, now have the opportunity to rebuttal and pick apart the speeches made by the courageous survivors of gun violence.

    One effect that will hopefully come out of this protest is that other teenagers and young adults will be inspired to make their voices heard. This movement has shown that age doesn’t define the impact that can be made on the world or mute the deafening voice young people possess.

    The March for Our Lives movement highlights many admirable qualities about the current generations of teenagers of young adults. It shows that they are not scared of the “big man”. They make their voice heard and are passionate about the relevant issues that they feel need addressed. It has become clear that they don’t let the discouragement of their elders be the barrier halting them from standing up for what they believe in.