Just before the clock strikes 8 a.m. at Montezuma-Cortez High School, the sound of a bat smashing a ball echoes down the halls.
The sounds, which come courtesy of senior Dylan Kibel, speak of hard work, never-ending drive, uncanny leadership and a young man’s love of baseball in all its nuanced forms.
“I just like to work on baseball,” said Kibel, when asked how he spends his time away from the diamond and away from the classroom. “I have a tee at home. I bring my tee and mitt to school, and I hit off of the tee before school every day. That’s how I know it’s going to be a good day.”
While to passersby, Kibel’s dedication to his sport might seem obsessive or even crazy, the senior’s impressive work ethic has caught the attention of teammates, opponents and friends who appreciate excellence.
It has also caught the attention of M-CHS manager Tim Passell, who does not mince words when talking about Kibel, whom he described as one of the best hitters he has ever coached.
“He’s a difference maker on and off the field,” Passell said. “He makes the whole team go harder, and he’s a good leader. How quick his hands are, you can see the difference. He’s a tick above the rest.”
Although just how far Kibel might go in baseball remains to be seen, his vast potential began to become apparent during his sophomore year at M-CHS, which came after he and his family moved back to the area after spending two years in Arizona.
Then, as a junior last season, Kibel came into his own while batting .333 and driving in 15 runs on the season. In addition, the M-CHS shortstop excelled in the field, thanks to his quick hands and an arm that ranks among the finest in the West Slope League.
“In eighth grade, I moved to Arizona, and I played ball there for about a year and a half,” Kibel said. “It was really competitive, and it opened my eyes to seeing better competition and faster pitching. I came back up here my sophomore year and lettered and ever since then, I’ve tried to take the leadership skills that I learned in (Arizona) and apply them here.”
He remains hopeful that he will have the opportunity to play at the college level, where he believes that he could positively impact a college program on and off the field.
Among the schools that Kibel is looking at is University of Colorado Colorado Springs, which boasts outstanding baseball facilities and a campus that Kibel said that he loves.
“I definitely want to take my talents to the next level,” the shortstop staid. “That has been a goal for me since I started playing this game. My fielding needs work, and I need to get stronger, but I’ve been working hard in the weight room, and I work hard with whatever I do.”
A solid student who enjoys math, excels in English and will likely be a captain for the M-CHS basketball team this winter, Kibel immediately mentioned his parents, Jane and Mark Kibel, when asked to describe individuals who have contributed to his success.
Kibel also credited his teammates for standing by his side since grade school while helping him become the best player that he can be.
“We’re inseparable, man,” Kibel said. “We’ve all known each other since we were small. We’ve all practiced and practiced, and we’ve all been out there two or three times a week putting in work.”
None have worked quite as hard as the talented senior shortstop, however, who figures to be pounding balls off the tee until he reaches his lofty goals.