2014's most-improved Yampa Valley athletes

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Steamboat's Brandon Yeager, right

Steamboat: Brandon Yeager, senior

Brandon Yeager has been a fixture on the Steamboat Springs wrestling scene since he was old enough to take to the mat. With coach Shane Yeager as his father, it was a natural fit.

He was always one of the high school wrestling team’s better performers, but that never paid off with a trip to the state tournament. It didn’t until this season, anyway.

Yeager made it to state, then caught fire while there. After years of “almost,” he plowed his way to a fifth-place finish in the 195-pound bracket in Class 4A.

It was his final high school meet and the best performance of his career.

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Moffat County's Katelyn Peroulis

Moffat County: Katelyn Peroulis, junior

As both an individual athlete and as part of her teams, junior Katelyn Peroulis stepped up across the board during the 2013-14 school year. As a sophomore, she played almost exclusively when the girls basketball team was far ahead and attempted just 24 shots all season. But with several guards graduating, Peroulis stepped in this year and was a major player for the Bulldogs off the bench. Her scoring jumped from 1.1 points per game to 7.4, plus she led the team in 3-pointers made, 20, and foul-shooting, 71 percent.

She excelled again in golf this spring, improving by double digits in strokes. Her season culminated with a career-best score of 90 at the regional tournament, earning her a berth at state.

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Hayden's Taylor Lewis, left

Hayden: Taylor Lewis, junior

It’s been a slow building process for Taylor Lewis. He missed state as a freshman. He made it a year ago and even won a match in the consolation bracket. This season, however, he took a major step forward, going from state tournament also-ran to a medalist. He won twice in the championship bracket before losing to the eventual state champ, then won again in the consolation bracket to get him into the third-place match at 182 pounds.

It was a huge step forward, and there’s still one year left for Lewis to build on his mat skills.

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Soroco's Jacey Schlegel

Soroco: Jacey Schlegel, senior

Schlegel went from “solid” to “outstanding” in her two sports, volleyball and basketball.

In volleyball, she led the team in kills, finishing with 52 percent more than any teammate, a year after she was fourth on the team in the same stat. She led the team in blocks, notching more in her senior season than the rest of her career combined.

Her improvement was just as impressive in basketball. A fierce rebounder as a junior and a senior, she picked up her scoring this season, averaging five more points per game. She scored more than 20 points in four games, setting a career best at 24 points.

That’s some serious improvement.

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