Jon Mitchell

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March 20, 2013
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Stellar efforts weren't just by track kids

Just a few thoughts about what's happened in the past week on the area's high school sports scene:

Rifle High School's track and field team hosted the annual Rifle Invitational this past Saturday. It was a typical day of track, full of great performances and even a few personal records set early in the season.

And, like most track meets, there was a hang-up. In this case, a lack of results.

The computer system that was being used at the meet failed. Times for running events weren't exactly instantly available right after the event was run because of that. In fact, they weren't even available right after the meet. Or even the afternoon after the meet.

It became frustrating for the coaches and, for that matter, even the athletes. No results were posted on the boards behind the grandstands at Bears Stadium while the events were running. In this day and age of text messaging, web updates and instant information, frustrations were adding up.

And no one at the meet was more frustrated than first-year Rifle coach John Scrabeck.

"I'm so, so sorry," he said to me on Sunday night after he and his staff had spent all of St. Patrick's Day transcribing the results into readable computer files. "I promise this won't happen again."

True, there was some added frustration for me, since I expected to have stuff ready for the Glenwood Springs Post Independent the next day. What would have been more frustrating, however, is if there would have been no lines of communication at all.

Scrabeck and his staff realized early on in the meet something was going wrong with the computer system they were using, and they held a meeting with the coaches early in the afternoon to let them know. So while the meet staff tried diligently to fix the problem, the rest of the staff stayed focused on what was important at the time: running the meet and paying attention to the kids who were participating.

Ironically enough, the only results that were official by the end of the day came from the field events, which were all written down by hand (without a computer, mind you).

Officially, however, there was a herculean effort put out by the coaching staff at Rifle, despite the difficulties they were faced with. And since that's all high school coaches can ask from their kids, the effort they made, considering the circumstances, is more than admirable.

Baseball off to good start

Rifle High School's baseball team took a big leap forward this past week.

After the Bears had trouble hitting the ball in their 4-2 season-opening loss at Thomas Jefferson in Denver, Rifle rebounded on March 12 with a 10-6 win over Hotchkiss.

Rifle hit the ball with authority, getting home runs from Triston Quigley and Wyatt Robinson. They did commit a pair of errors, but most of their play in the field was clean and crisp.

What's great about that is that Hotchkiss is a traditionally strong program, and the Bears and Bulldogs had plenty of battles when each played in the 3A Western Slope League. Obviously, Rifle wanted some tough nonleague competition to prepare them for playing against the 4A WSL. Meanwhile, Hotchkiss has moved down a class due to a drop in enrollment, and the Bulldogs, a multiple qualifier for the 3A state tournament, will likely obliterate the 2A WSL.

Success early in the season can sometimes be downplayed, but Rifle seems to be headed right back to the success it had a year ago.

Quite a class

Roger Walters has a lot to be proud of.

In February, following a game played by Rifle High School's boys basketball team, I had the women's basketball roster at Colorado Mesa University in my backpack. I showed it to him and asked him how many of those players were his recruits.

After he skimmed down the list of players, he replied, "All of 'em."

First-year Mesa coach Taylor Wagner should send Walters a fruit basket or something after the season is over. The guy walked into a coaching job that had a championship-caliber team just waiting there for him.

Kudos to Wagner, though, for coaching that squad to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight following Mesa's 69-65 victory over Midwestern State (Texas) on Monday in the South Central Regional title game in front of 1,927 fans at Brownson Arena in Grand Junction. It's Mesa's first trip to the Elite Eight in school history, and the fourth-ranked Mavs (31-1) will play Dowling College (New York) in the national quarterfinals on March 26 in San Antonio.

Suffice to say, Wagner put the pieces of the puzzle together.

But Walters gave Wagner the pieces to that puzzle.

Jon Mitchell is the sports editor of the Citizen Telegram and Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

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The Post Independent Updated Mar 20, 2013 06:23PM Published Mar 20, 2013 06:19PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.