Augspurger, Kistner receive top senior honors at AHS athletic banquet
When Aspen High School alpine ski coach Jennifer Morandi-Benson had her turn at the lectern, she spoke of an athlete’s selfless act where she willingly decided not to compete in order for a teammate to have the chance.
This girl, Morandi-Benson later divulged, was none other than AHS senior Pascale Augspurger, one of the team’s best skiers.
“She is just so dependable and she’s got spirit and she cares for her teammates,” Morandi-Benson said. “She is concerned for their wellbeing. She is a genuine human being.”
Augspurger’s talent on the ski hill — not to mention the soccer field — and her selfless nature off it were part of the reason she was named AHS’s senior female athlete of the year at the school’s senior athlete scholar banquet Tuesday inside the Inn at Aspen.
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Augspurger was part of an AHS girls ski team that finished third at state this winter, carried by its strong alpine team. She finished sixth at state in the giant slalom, one of four Skiers in the top six. She also was part of a strong AHS girls’ soccer team that made it to the second round of the 3A state playoffs this spring.
“It’s not necessarily her talent, but it’s all the other things that make her who she is: a reliable teammate,” Morandi-Benson said. “She is selfless. She is a leader. When I need her to pull a course, help me set a course, be a starting coach up at the start house, she is there. I rely on her 100 percent.”
According to Morandi-Benson, Augspurger will take a gap year to travel after high school while mulling over her college options, which could include the opportunity to continue her skiing career.
The AHS senior male athlete of the year was one of the few true three-sport athletes during the 2016-17 school year. James Kistner was among the most consistent presences for Aspen athletics, beginning with football in the fall before moving onto to basketball and lacrosse.
“He’s a mature kid — probably well beyond his years,” AHS football coach Karson Pike said of Kistner. “His voice carried a lot of weight in the room and guys looked to him for answers. He’s been on varsity for all three sports probably since sophomore year, so they kind of look to him for advice at times and he very stoically gave that.”
Kistner was the starting goalie for AHS lacrosse and was a force down low for the boys’ basketball team, but football was his main deal. The lone varsity senior for the Skiers in the fall, Kistner never wavered from his commitment to the team despite it being a rebuilding year with a new coach. AHS football finished the season 2-7 overall.
“He went through three head coaches in his four years here,” Pike said, “but to stick out his senior year and really lay a foundation for the future knowing that we were going to go through some low lows and hopefully hit a few high highs speaks very highly of him. What I’m most excited about is he kind of re-found his love for football.”
According to Pike, Kistner has been given the opportunity to play NCAA Division III football at Chapman University in Orange, California.
“It’s really awesome to see him have that passion back and excitement toward getting ready for football in college and the experience he’ll have there,” Pike said.
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Herman is the freestyle skiing winner of the Summit Daily’s Peak Performers project, which honors the greatest athletes and most influential figures in Summit county ski and snowboard history.