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Spring football schedule reunites Glenwood and Rifle

As one football season approaches its finish, another has been shown the starting line. 

And, for the first time in several seasons, the Glenwood Springs-Rifle football rivalry is set to have league and post-season ramifications.

The Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) on Friday announced the leagues and schedules for all the teams that opted to play in the spring, or Season C.

East-West league assignments put Glenwood Springs and Rifle in the Class 3A West, along with area schools Coal Ridge, Basalt and Aspen. Rounding out the league are Steamboat Springs, Salida and Montezuma-Cortez. 

Glenwood Springs in recent years has played a classification up from Rifle and Coal Ridge, so this year’s coronavirus-altered prep sports scheduling renews a league rivalry between the two storied Garfield County high school football programs. 

In the Class 2A ranks, playing in the West league will be Grand Valley and, returning to varsity play for the first time in two years, Roaring Fork High School of Carbondale. Joining them will be St. Mary’s, Buena Vista, Ellicot and Manitou Springs. 

“For the kids to actually see a schedule and know when it’s coming, I just think it makes it more real,” Basalt football coach Carl Frerichs said. “Now we are getting pretty close to when it’s really going to start happening.”

Along with the traditional fall sports of boys soccer and girls volleyball, football had originally been pushed back to spring because of concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. 

After pushback from parents, coaches and players, CHSAA ultimately gave football teams and school districts the option to choose between the fall (Season A) or the spring. The vast majority of the teams in the state opted to play this fall.

Just 54 teams or their respective school districts chose the spring, including all four school districts between Aspen and Parachute. 

With so few teams playing spring football, CHSAA was forced to shuffle the leagues and even classifications around a bit to make things work in an abbreviated seven-week season.

CHSAA maintained that the alignments and schedules are subject to change should teams decide to opt out of the spring.

“Our bracket is extremely strong, which I really am excited for the kids and the coaches to be able to go up against,” Frerichs said. “We are not going to have a ton of teams, but I think the competition level is as high as the fall.”

The 2A Western Slope League has arguably been the best league in the state the past few years, highlighted by strong runs from Basalt, Delta and Rifle. In the fall 2019 season, No. 9 seed Basalt knocked off No. 1 seed Rifle in the state quarterfinals before losing to No. 4 seed Delta in the semifinals. Delta then lost to No. 2 seed Sterling in the 2A state championship game.

Delta and Moffat County — who were part of last year’s 2A WSL along with Aspen, Basalt, Rifle and Coal Ridge — opted to play football this fall and won’t be part of the equation come spring. Same for Eagle Valley, Battle Mountain and Summit, which normally play in the same 3A league with Glenwood Springs. 

Football teams competing in Season C can start practice on Feb. 25, with the first week of competition getting underway March 11.

Teams will play through a six-game slate with the top eight teams per classification making the playoffs. Teams that don’t make the postseason will be allowed to play a seventh game after the regular season. 

The state championship games are scheduled for May 7 and 8 at CSU-Pueblo. CHSAA is naming separate state champions for both the fall and spring seasons.

Exact dates and times for the spring games (see accompanying schedules) have not been established. Frerichs did say he hopes to see Friday games played earlier in the day, if not moved to Saturday afternoons, to avoid the extreme cold temperatures that come after sunset that time of year.

Season C also will include boys soccer and volleyball. Season B, which starts practice on Jan. 4, includes the traditional winter sports of boys and girls basketball, ice hockey, skiing, girls swimming, wrestling and competitive spirit. 

Season D, which starts practice April 26, is the traditional spring sports lineup of lacrosse, girls soccer, baseball, girls golf, girls tennis, and track and field.

The just-concluded fall season included cross country, boys golf, softball and boys tennis.

SPRING FOOTBALL SCHEDULES

Glenwood Springs

Week 1: vs. Aspen

Week 2: @ Montezuma-Cortez

Week 3: vs. Coal Ridge

Week 4: @ Basalt

Week 5: vs. Rifle

Week 6: @ Salida

Rifle

Week 1: @ Coal Ridge

Week 2: vs. Aspen

Week 3: @ Basalt

Week 4: vs. Salida

Week 5: @ Glenwood Springs

Week 6: vs. Steamboat Springs

Coal Ridge

Week 1: vs. Rifle

Week 2: vs. Salida

Week 3: @ Glenwood Springs

Week 4: @ Montezuma-Cortez

Week 5: @ Steamboat Springs

Week 6: vs. Aspen

Roaring Fork

Week 1: @ St. Mary’s

Week 2: @ Buena Vista

Week 3: vs. Ellicott

Week 4: @ Grand Valley

Week 5: vs. TBD

Week 6: vs. Sheridan

Grand Valley

Week 1: vs. Ellicott

Week 2: @ TBD

Week 3: @ Buena Vista

Week 4: vs. Roaring Fork

Week 5: vs. St. Mary’s

Week 6: @ Ridge View

Basalt

Week 1: vs. Salida

Week 2: @ Steamboat Springs

Week 3: vs. Rifle

Week 4: vs. Glenwood Springs

Week 5: @ Aspen

Week 6: @ Montezuma-Cortez

Trio of area prep athletes put pen to paper on signing day

Three area prep athletes put pen to paper on Wednesday, signing their National Letter of Intent to continue their athletic careers in college.

Aspen High School’s Kylie Kenny inked with the University of Denver for lacrosse, while Basalt High School’s Sierra Bower and Shea Card will head to Furman (cross country and track) and Denison (swimming), respectively.

Wednesday was the first day of the NLI signing period for Division I and II sports, outside of football (Dec. 16). Prior to then, commitments had only been verbal between athletes and schools.

Here’s a closer look at the why of each player’s decision:

KYLIE KENNY

The AHS senior will head to the Front Range to compete for a strong DU program, which finished this past spring ranked No. 16 in the IWLCA Division I coaches poll for the pandemic-shortened season, going 7-1 overall.

Kenny held more of a virtual signing from her home on Wednesday as AHS students are temporarily back to remote learning because of COVID-19 concerns. She originally committed to Denver back in January.

“This has always been a dream of mine and to have it officially official just makes it that much more real, which is crazy,” Kenny said of signing. “Coming from Colorado, I’ve idolized or looked up to a lot of DU players because it’s a great program and they are a true family. So when I had the opportunity to be a part of something like that, I really jumped at the opportunity.”

Kenny, who also is a standout in cross country (both running and skiing), has had a lacrosse stick in her hands since she could walk. She’s been a key piece for the AHS girls lacrosse program, even earning significant minutes as a freshman. Kenny finished third on the team in goals scored as a sophomore in 2019, when the Skiers went undefeated in the regular season. The 2020 spring season was canceled because of the pandemic.

She largely credits AHS girls lacrosse coach Amanda Trendell — with a nod to AHS cross country coach Chris Keleher and AHS Nordic coach Travis Moore — for getting her onto a major Division I lacrosse program. She is undecided on a major.

“It’s a huge honor. I’m really excited and I’m super grateful for all the people who helped get me to this level, namely coach Trendell,” Kenny said. “She has just absolutely inspired me for a lot of reasons and I don’t think this would have been possible without her.”

Kenny will likely be the focal point for AHS lacrosse this spring. The high school season doesn’t start until April 26 because of the altered COVID-19 schedule. Aspen had been preseason No. 8 in the state last spring but never played a game.

“I love the Aspen team like a second family,” Kenny said. “I’m really excited to continue to play with my sister and with the other girls on the team who I’ve been with now for three or four years. And I’m really excited to continue to work hard for and play for ‘Coach T’ one last time.”

SIERRA BOWER

One of the state’s top runners, Bower committed to South Carolina’s Furman University prior to the fall season and was able to officially sign on Wednesday at a small ceremony inside the BHS gymnasium.

“It was definitely super exciting and I’m happy to have that out of the way,” she said. “It was also really nice to have another athlete there. It just made it more interesting. It was fun having my parents there and everyone is super excited.”

Bower broke out onto the big stage as a sophomore, highlighted by her second-place finish in the girls 3,200-meter run at the 2019 state track and field championships. Then came her historic cross country season that fall as a junior, where she won the Class 3A girls state championship with a course record time of roughly 18 minutes flat in Colorado Springs.

She finished fifth at the state meet this fall, a race won by her sophomore teammate, Katelyn Maley. Bower will likely contend for the mile and 2-mile state championships in track this coming spring before heading to Furman in the fall. As of the latest coaches poll (Nov. 3), the Paladins are ranked No. 10 nationally among NCAA Division I women’s cross country teams.

Furman pushes double majors, with Bower wanting to focus on psychology. Her second major, should she choose one, remains unknown.

“I’m really excited,” Bower said of her decision to attend Furman. “After I committed I took an unofficial visit to South Carolina. I obviously didn’t meet the coaches because that goes against NCAA rules, but I got to meet the girls on the team and they definitely solidified my decision. I think overall it’s just a really good fit for me.”

SHEA CARD

Basalt’s Card has long been a standout swimmer for the Aspen Swim Club. He competes for the Glenwood Springs High School boys swim team in the spring, as BHS doesn’t have its own program.

Located in Granville, Ohio, Denison University competes at the NCAA Division III level. Former Aspen High School standout Trey Fabrocini, who transferred to Ohio for his senior season a year ago, is part of Denison’s football program.

Like Fabrocini, Card has roots in that area, having briefly lived in Cincinnati when he was younger and lived in Pittsburgh prior to moving to the Roaring Fork Valley.

“During the summer when everything was closed down I was allowed to walk around the campus because everything was empty,” Card said of a difficult recruiting process due to COVID-19. “After that I kept looking at other colleges, but they were the only one that continued to stick out to me.”

Card was looking at a handful of DI programs before choosing to go with Denison, which is a DIII powerhouse. In the final coaches poll of the 2020 season back in March, Denison finished ranked No. 1 nationally among DIII schools for both men and women. Denison coach Gregg Parini has led the program for more than three decades, winning six Division III national championships.

“It’s a really hard year for people like Shea. So it’s a huge relief that he’s got a spot. He knows where he is going and Denison has a very storied program,” said Becky Jager, who coaches the Aspen Swim Club alongside her husband, Olympian Tom Jager. “He stayed with it. He stayed in the water and stayed training, even though it’s hard to train that hard when you don’t have any meets coming up. But he is very focused.”

Card’s signing was mostly ceremonial on Wednesday, as the DIII level doesn’t offer full athletic scholarships. He signed inside the BHS gymnasium at the same time as Bower.

He’s still deciding on a major, but has his eyes currently set on either bioengineering or neuroscience.

“There wasn’t a doubt in my mind and I was going to do whatever it took to swim in college,” Card said. “It’s something that is very close to me and I can’t see myself not swimming. Before I even got into high school I was already starting to think about wanting to swim in college.”

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Policy reversal regarding athletics exemption for students who stick with online schooling

Students in Roaring Fork District high schools who opt to remain online to receive course instruction should not be penalized by not being able to participate in sports.

That was the consensus of school board members when the question came up during their Wednesday night videoconference meeting.

The district is preparing to give the option for high school students to transition back to live, in-person classrooms starting Nov. 4. Grades kindergarten through eighth already have that option.

In doing so, the plan was to prohibit students who choose to stay in online classes from taking part in sports or other extracurricular activities, unless they, too, could be done online.

The idea was that, if students were opting to do online classes to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19, it would not make sense for them to take part in sports where the risk is even greater, Superintendent Rob Stein said.

“It was never about punishing anyone,” Stein said, responding to some suggestions by parents that the policy came across that way.

“We have nothing to gain by it, other than that’s what we thought made sense academically,” he said.

The next sports season isn’t until January under the Colorado High School Activities Association’s Covid-modified sports seasons this school year, and is to include boys and girls basketball, hockey, girls swimming and wrestling.

A third season starting in March is to include football, volleyball and boys soccer, and the fourth and final season in late spring would include track and field, baseball and girls soccer.

If families feel comfortable with their kids being on the sports field or in the gym with other students, they should also be fine with them being in school, said Rick Holt, chief academic officer for the district.

“If the goal is to reduce your risk, hanging out with 30 kids who were all just in school does not reduce your risk,” he said. “It’s safer in the building (with distancing protocols) than it is on the soccer field.”

A majority of school board members said that choice should be up to families, not the district, as long as a choice between online and in-person classes is being offered.

Board member Natalie Torres said it would seem conflicting to have a student interact with others in a sports setting, but not in the classroom.

“But I think it’s important to give those students and their families that choice, instead of saying you don’t have that choice,” Torres said.

Board member Maureen Stepp offered a dissenting viewpoint.

“I agree with Rick and Rob that if you’re choosing to stay home because of safety issues, it does not make sense to undo that safety and participate in sports.”

Stein added that, unless public health officials suggest otherwise or CHSAA changes its policies, students taking online courses would be allowed to take part in sports come spring semester.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Glenwood Turkey Trot canceled due to ongoing coronavirus concerns

Glenwood Springs’ traditional Thanksgiving Day foot race, the Turkey Trot 5K, will take a hiatus this fall due to ongoing concerns about the potential spread of COVID-19, especially involving large gatherings.

“With an expectation of over 500 people at the golf course, the COVID restrictions in place and the current upswing in cases, we feel this is the safest and, really, the only course of action,” race director Steve Vanderhoof said in a Wednesday statement.    

“We will continue our tradition next year, and have already secured the golf course for 2021,” he said.

The Turkey Trot will continue to support the Glenwood Springs High School boys and girls swim and cross country teams, and the Sopris Barracudas club swim team through the acceptance of donations in lieu of the race fee this year, Vanderhoof said.

Basalt’s Maley wins 3A state championship, as BHS and Aspen finish in top four

Between her dad and sister, Katelyn Maley had plenty of people in her ear during Saturday’s state championship cross country race in Colorado Springs. Still, she didn’t dare look behind her as she paced the field, so the Basalt High School sophomore had no idea the stage was all hers.

“I heard my dad say, ‘You have them by a little bit, but keep pushing,’ so I just kind of listened to the spectators and tried to not look behind. So I really didn’t know until the end,” Maley said of her sizable lead. “I really didn’t. I thought they were closer.”

Maley was the first across the finish line on Saturday at the Norris-Penrose Event Center, winning the Class 3A girls state championship in 18 minutes, 39 seconds. She came in more than 34 seconds ahead of runner-up Kennedy McDonald (19:13.4), a junior from The Classical Academy, while Peak to Peak senior Allison Beasley was another seven seconds back in third place (19:20.3). Faith Christian senior Audrey Orstead was fourth in 19:23.8.

For Basalt, it’s the second individual state champion in two years, after then-junior Sierra Bower won it all in 2019. Bower, a Furman commit, set a 3A course record in 18 minutes flat last fall (winning by 44 seconds), but settled for fifth Saturday as a senior in 19:24.4.

“It’s still amazing. I still feel like I’m in a dream. I was really happy with how everyone did, so it’s pretty cool,” Maley said. “My goal for a while has been to win a state championship, whether that was this year or in the next years. So I was kind of hoping. I knew I might be in the front pack, so I wasn’t really sure where I’d fall. But when I got the opportunity to take the lead, I just took it.”

Even without sophomore Sarah Levy, the team’s usual fourth runner, who was out with injury, the Longhorns managed to finish third as a team for the second consecutive year. BHS finished with 121 points, only eight points back of runner-up Holy Family. The Classical Academy again dominated the meet, winning its state record 13th championship with 65 points.

“We are pretty happy about it. We are blessed with some really good talent on this team,” BHS coach Ron Lund said of back-to-back third-place finishes after years of not even being able to record a team score at state. “It looked a lot like regionals, actually, at the beginning with her and Sierra taking it out. Katelyn looked pretty comfortable and no one really threatened her pretty much after halfway.”

Maley finished 12th at state as a freshman last year with a time of 20:00.8. But she really elevated her game this season, highlighted by her win at regionals in Durango, where Bower finished second and fellow sophomore teammate Ava Lane was third.

That trio again paved the way at state, with Lane finishing 11th on Saturday in 19:44.2. That was a big improvement from her freshman year, when she finished 34th at state in 20:51.5. Levy had been 23rd as a freshman last year in 20:31.7.

Stepping up on the back end for the Longhorns on Saturday were freshman Avery Smith (43rd, 21:36.8), senior Kaitlin Boothe (81st, 23:48.7) and sophomore Lacey Lindberg (86th, 24:14.1). Without Levy, Lund had vague hopes of a top-five finish, so he was certainly ecstatic with another third-place finish.

“I thought going in we had a look at top five, but to be eight points out of second, that really surprised me,” Lund said. “I was really impressed with the way the three girls that had never ran state handled being at a state meet. … The kids really stepped up and obviously it showed. And our top three, we couldn’t ask more from them.”

Among Maley’s biggest cheerleaders on Saturday was her sister, 2019 BHS graduate Megan Maley, who holds the school’s track record in the 800-meter run. Megan, who runs for NCAA Division III Scripps College in Claremont, California, has spent a lot of extra time at home training with her younger sister because of the coronavirus pandemic closing down in-person learning.

Add in Lane, who Katelyn Maley said is “one of the main people that is always there by my side and motivating me,” and Basalt’s newest state champion had plenty of support this offseason to help get her to the top. She entered the fall ready to make moves, and she did so in dominant fashion.

“It was super rewarding and just knowing that the team had worked so hard for that exact moment,” Katelyn Maley said of the feeling she had when crossing the finish line. “It’s just so amazing. The fact that we got third today and third last year, it was our fourth, fifth and sixth runners that really pulled through today. I’m just so proud of everyone.”

ASPEN FINISHES FOURTH FOR BEST FINISH SINCE 2011

The Aspen High School girls cross country team continued its year-by-year improvement, sending its four competing seniors out with a fourth-place team finish on Saturday in the 3A championship. The Skiers finished with 123 points, only two points behind third-place Basalt and only 10 back of runner-up Holy Family.

“They ran well all season long, and this was a good way to end the season,” AHS coach Chris Keleher said. “So a really good showing. I’ll take that. They were super nervous last night and they put it all on the line. Everybody dug deep and kudos to Basalt — man, did they run well.”

The fourth-place finish is the best for the Aspen girls since back-to-back fourth-place finishes in 2010 and 2011. After that 2011 season, AHS wouldn’t crack the top 10 until finishing seventh in 2018, when the current seniors were sophomores. The Skiers were fifth in 2019.

Aspen’s best program finish came in 2002, when it won its lone state championship.

“It’s definitely bittersweet. Four years and a lot of miles with these girls,” Keleher said of the final race with a strong senior class. “You can’t replace that. It’s good though. They are a fun group of kids and they run really well together and they support each other.”

AHS senior Kylie Kenny, who has been the team’s top state finisher all four years as a Skier, was 12th on Saturday in 19:57.1. Her younger sister, sophomore Michaela Kenny, was next across the finish line coming in 25th in 20:51.8. Aspen sophomore Elsie Weiss was 32nd in 21:10.2 and senior Kendall Clark was 34th in 21:14.2. Rounding out Aspen’s runners were seniors Edie Sherlock (53rd, 21:58.2) and Eva McDonough (69th, 22:55.3).

Keleher did like to point out how Aspen, which won the regional championship this year, is mostly comprised of athletes who don’t specialize in cross country. Kylie Kenny, for example, is a standout lacrosse player and will likely continue playing the sport in college.

“They are Nordic skiers and they are soccer players and they are lacrosse players. One girl is track. This is their second sport. It’s like a hobby for them. It’s awesome,” Keleher said. “This group especially was just so much fun to coach. They just respond and they dig deep.”

Of note, Gunnison senior Alex Baca won the 3A boys state championship in 16:07.8. Neither Aspen nor Basalt had any boys qualify for the smaller-than-usual state meet.

In the 4A girls race, Glenwood Springs finished eighth overall. Glenwood junior Ella Johnson led the way, finishing fourth in 18:24, while her sophomore teammate, Sophia Connerton-Nevin, was eighth in 19:07.2.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Johnson, Connerton-Nevin score top-10 finishes at 4A state cross country meet; Glenwood places 8th as a team

The chase was on for Glenwood Springs runner Sophia Connerton-Nevin, starting in the second wave of the 4A girls state high school cross country championships Saturday, 45 seconds behind junior teammate and partner-in-strategy Ella Johnson.

The sophomore runner was up to the challenge, though, picking her way one-by-one into the front wave to score an eighth-place overall finish in 19 minutes, 7.19 seconds.

Johnson kept pace up front, placing fourth overall in 18:24 —25 seconds off the winning pace set by Air Academy’s Bethany Michalak, and one position and 17 seconds better than her inaugural state appearance last year.

Not having Connerton-Nevin at her side was a bit foreign for Johnson, but the lead pack made for some pretty good company. Niwot’s Mia Prok was second in 18:02.37, followed by Eagle Valley’s Samantha Blair in third, at 18:14.04.

“I didn’t really have a strategy going in, but the hills on this course definitely help me out,” Johnson said in a phone interview after the race. The state meet was held at the Norris-Penrose Events Center in Colorado Springs.

“Usually, we (she and Connerton-Nevin) team up and try to go on either side of someone to push the pace, but we couldn’t do that this race,” she said of this season’s COVID restrictions that require runners to start in waves every 45 seconds, rather than all at once.

Johnson’s fallback strategy was to keep Eagle Valley’s Blair in view, in hopes she might reel her in at the end. That didn’t quite happen, but it was one way to keep her from slowing down, she said.

Connerton-Nevin said she was just happy to have a chance to compete at state for a second straight year, which almost didn’t happen were it not for her teammates rallying at last week’s regionals to claim the third team-qualifying spot.

Glenwood sophomore Sophia Connerton-Nevin competes in the 4A girls’ state cross country championships at the Norris Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado., on Saturday Oct. 17, 2020. Connerton-Nevin finished in 7th place. (Chancey Bush/ The Gazette)

“I had a couple of rough races coming into regionals, so it was nice to end the season this way,” Connerton-Nevin also said in a phone interview Saturday after the state meet.

“Starting in the second wave helped me be able to work from behind and pick off people as I went, so it was a different race strategy,” she said. “I was just happy to be here and share this with my team, and having them here for support helped me run a little bit stronger this year.”

Connerton-Nevin placed 16th at state as a freshman, and improved her time on the challenging state course by 12 seconds.

Finishing behind Johnson and Connerton-Nevin for the Demons squad, in order, were: junior Alexa Helms, 71st, 21:48.01; senior Maya Elia, 81st, 22:17; freshman Taia Nykerk, 86th, 22:29.65; and sophomore Ruby Patch, 88th, 22:38.36.

The Glenwood Springs girls finished eighth as a team with 223 points, behind state champion Niwot (55), followed by Battle Mountain (93), Air Academy (111), Durango (126), Denver South (167), Palmer Ridge (171), and Silver Creek (220).

“It was a great end-of-the-season performance, and we exceeded expectations every meet in the post season,” Glenwood Springs head coach Justin Baum said.

The Demons had been ranked 16th among 4A teams before regionals, and came into state as the 10th-ranked team.

Johnson said she and Connerton-Nevin hope to improve and both place in the top five at state next season.

“It was an interesting season, but I think they handled it well,” Johnson said of meet protocols which, in addition to the wave starts, also included mask requirements, limits on overall individual and team entries at meets, and limits on spectators.

“With what we had to work around, it was a good season,” Johnson said, adding she looks forward to basketball season in January, which also will be played under strict rules to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Cardinals runners finish strong

Competing in the 2A championship during the all-class state cross country meet, Grand Valley senior Alex Mendoza placed 13th overall among the girls, finishing in 21:40.20.

In the 2A boys race, the Grand Valley boys competed as a full team. The Cardinals’ top runner was senior Keaton Jansen in 41st (19:15.30), senior Nikolai Stammer was 63rd (19:51.70), senior Keenan Strauss was 65th (19:56.90), sophomore Kade Sackett was 80th (20:34.10), and sophomore Dominic Mendoza was 86th (21:11.60).

Running in the 3A girls championship, but unable to finish, was Coal Ridge sophomore Mikayla Cheney.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Rifle High softball lands 7 players among All-Conference selections

Rifle High School had a strong contingent of players named to the 4A Western Slope League All-Conference team for softball this fall. 

First team honors, including notable season statistics as reported to MaxPreps, went to:

• Sophomore first baseman Haiely Worton (.545 batting average, 14 runs, 10 RBIs, a home run and a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage)

• Senior infielder Abigail Bonuales (.417 BA, 20 hits, 19 runs and 17 RBIs)

• Junior third baseman/pitcher Emma Poole (.583 BA, 28 hits, 23 runs and 26 RBIs)

• Freshman second baseman/pitcher Emma Speakman (.565 BA, 26 hits, 26 runs, eight doubles, 11 stolen bases on 11 tries, and six pitching appearances)

Honorable mention went to:

• Sophomore utility player Myia Valencia (.434 BA, 23 hits, 20 runs, 14 RBIs and a .943 fielding percentage)

• Junior outfielder Kaylie Stark (.270 BA, 10 hits, 13 runs and 12 RBIs)

• Freshman pitcher/infielder Blayke Hostettler (5.23 ERA, 7 wins, 37 strikeouts, .333 BA, nine runs and seven RBIs)

League champion Palisade swept the individual honors, including Player of the Year Melissa Carroll, Pitcher of the Year Mikayla Talbott, and Coach of the Year Jeff DeCrow.

The Rifle Lady Bears, coached by Troy Phillips, finished the season at 9-7 overall and 2-2 in 4A WSL play.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Coal Ridge runner Mikayla Cheney qualifies from regionals for 3A state meet

Coal Ridge High School sophomore Mikayla Cheney notched a trip to the 3A state cross country meet later this month, by virtue of a fourth-place finish at Friday’s Colorado 3A Region 1 meet in Durango.

Also Friday, competing in the 2A Region 4 qualifier at Delta, the Colorado Rocky Mountain School girls from Carbondale and the Grand Valley High School boys are headed to state, after taking second and fourth places in their respective team competitions.

Grand Valley senior Alex Mendoza earned an individual qualifying spot among the girls, as did CRMS senior Bryn Peterson for the boys.

Cheney was the only Garfield County state qualifier at the 3A meet to advance from a girls’ field dominated by Aspen and Basalt runners

Basalt swept the top three spots, with sophomore Katelyn Maley earning top honors with a 5K (3.1 miles) time of 18:58 at the Hillcrest Golf Course in Durango.

Defending 3A state champion and Basalt senior Sierra Bower was second in 19:12, and Longhorns sophomore Ava Lane was third in 19:13, pacing Basalt to second in the team competition.

Aspen, led by senior Kylie Kenney in fifth (19:17), took the team title with 51 points to Basalt’s 59. Moffat County was third with 99 points.

Right there in the mix was Cheney, who claimed one of just two individual state qualifying spots by taking fourth in 19:16. The other spot went to Alamosa freshman Sarah DeLaCerda (sixth, 19:20).

Just off the state-qualifying pace was Coal Ridge junior Aracelli Ayala in eighth, at 20:20.

Coal Ridge runner Araceli Ayala was eighth overall at Friday’s 3A Region 1 meet in Durango.
Joel Priest/Durango Herald

Cheney was gracious about the opportunity to compete at the state meet, slated for Oct 17 in Colorado Springs.

“I’m thankful for all the support I get from family, friends and coaches,” she said in a text message on the bus ride home Friday afternoon. “I’m also grateful for the amazing girls I get to run against.”

The next two Garfield County finishers at regionals in the girls race were Coal Ridge sophomore Gwynn Apostolik (38th, 22:53), and Rifle senior Karisa Coombs (39th, 22:59).

In the boys race, it was Alamosa taking the team title with 47 points, to Gunnison’s 61 and Moffat County’s 116.

Coal Ridge sophomore Tyler Parker led Garfield County runners, placing 16th in 18:04. Roaring Fork junior Ross Barlow, running for Basalt, was seventh in 17:18; Basalt senior Noah Allen was 17th in 18:06; and Roaring Fork senior Talon Carballiera (also running for Basalt) was 20th in 18:16.

Rifle had a pair of top-25 finishers in junior Jace Coller (23rd, 18:26) and senior Jonny Hernandez (24th, 18:26).

CRMS girls, Grand Valley boys state bound

Led by junior Morgan Karow in second place overall with a time of 20:39.09 over the 5K course at Delta’s Confluence Park, CRMS managed second as a team with 69 points.

Regional champion Ignacio had 51 points, West Grand was third with 71 and Hotchkiss claimed the final team qualifying spot with 87 points.

Other top finishers for CRMS were senior Wren Kelly in 17th (22:49.54), junior Mandy Lei in 23rd (23:07.93), and junior Zea Anderson (34th, 23:57.07).

Grand Valley’s Mendoza claimed one of the five individual qualifying spots, placing fifth overall with a time of 21:03.78.

The Grand Valley boys claimed the fourth and final team qualifying spot (2A qualifying standards are different from the upper classifications), with 98 points, finishing behind regional champion Ouray with 57, Rangely with 92 and Caprock Academy with 94.

CRMS’ Peterson was sixth overall in 18:07.15 to claim an individual spot in the all-classification Colorado Cross Country Championships Oct. 17 in Colorado Springs.

Other Grand Valley finishers at regionals included, for the boys, senior Keaton Jansen (11th, 18:34.04), senior Keenan Strauss (19th, 19:08.76), and senior Nikolai Stammer (29th, 19:40.98); and, for the girls, freshman Kaylae Medina (36th, 24:10.21), and senior Bailey Hoyt (47th, 25:16.22).

jstroud@postindependent.com

Glenwood girls qualify for 4A state cross country meet with strong regional run Thursday

Glenwood Springs High’s top girls cross country runners will have some friendly company at the Class 4A state championships Oct. 17 in Colorado Springs.

In addition to junior Ella Johnson and sophomore Sophia Connerton-Nevin’s respective third- and seventh-place individual performances in the 4A regionals at Gypsum Creek Golf Course Thursday, it was all about team after that.

The Demons snuck in to the third and final qualifying spot with some solid running behind the lead pack to punch a team ticket to state.

Battle Mountain ran away with the regional title, notching five of the top-10 places for 34 points to runner-up Green Mountain High’s 115 points. Glenwood, with runners in 33rd, 35th and 44th places, came in third at 122 points, ahead of Golden with 127.

“Usually, what I’ve talked to the girls about is that under 100 points gets you out, and if you’re over that it’s a no go,” Glenwood head coach Justin Baum said. “The girls raced hard, but when we looked at that 122 we thought there’s no way.”

As it turned out, some of the other top teams struggled on the tough, rolling grass course, which played out well for Glenwood, and especially Connerton-Nevin.

Johnson was third overall, completing the 5K race in 18:50.30. As expected, Eagle Valley junior Samantha Blair won the individual title with a time of 18:02, followed by Battle Mountain senior Elliott Pribramsky in 18:23.

Connerton-Nevin crossed in 19:32.80 to take seventh, which would have left her just outside the cut for a return trip to state were it not for her Demon teammates.

Under the Covid-altered rules, only the top two individuals not on a qualifying team get to go to state. But Glenwood’s third-sixth runners placed high enough to secure the team entry.

Junior Alexa Helms took 33rd with a time of 21:38.60, followed by sophomore Ruby Patch close on her heels in 35th at 21:41. Senior Maya Elias was 44th, crossing in 22:01.40, and freshman Taia Nykerk filled the displacer role for the team, taking 55th with a time of 22:58.80.

None of Glenwood’s boys were able to qualify among some of the top 4A runners in the state. Green Mountain’s Grahm Tuohy-Gaydos set a blistering pace, winning in 15:59.20. Six more runners finished behind him in under 17 minutes.

Junior Quinn MacPherson was the Demons’ top runner in 38th place, finishing in 18:06.50. Senior Dalton Deter was 54th in 18:52.10, and junior Reid Swanson was 61st in 19:17.20.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Rifle High sends two to 4A state golf tournament, softball wraps up season; cross country gears up for regionals

The Rifle High School boys golf team sent two players to the 4A state golf tournament at Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs Monday and Tuesday.

Broc Caldwell and Cannon Wall both competed based on their season results and performance in the regional tournament the prior week.

Caldwall finished the state tournament in 64th place overall, shooting an 18-hole round of 92 on Monday and rebounding with an 85 on Tuesday for a total round of 177.

Wall shot 97-91 – 187 to place 78th out of 83 finishers. The Bears team was coached this season by Tod Smith.

It was the first sport in the coronavirus-altered fall high school sports season to conclude, as state softball tournaments are under way this week and boys and girls cross country runners are competing at regionals for a chance to qualify for the state meet Oct. 17 in Colorado Springs.

Rifle High’s softball team missed a return trip to the 4A state tournament this year, concluding its season at 9-7 overall and 2-2 in the 4A Western Slope League.

The Lady Bears ended with a 12-2 non-conference loss at 5A Fruita-Monument on Oct. 2.

Freshman Emma Speakman recorded a single, a double, a stolen base and scored a run, and on defense turned a double play. Junior Emma Poole had two singles and a run; sophomore Myia Valencia had a single and an RBI; and senior Abigail Bonuales reached on an error and had an RBI to close out her Rifle softball career. Senior Logan Cox also played her final game in a Bears uniform. The team was under the direction this season of six-year head coach Troy Phillips.

XC regionals Friday

Boys and girls cross country running teams from Rifle and Coal Ridge are slated to compete in the 3A Region 1 meet at Durango on Friday, while the Grand Valley Cardinals will take part in the 2A Region 4 meet that same day in Delta.

Leading contenders for Rifle to qualify for the Oct. 17 3A state meet include senior Jonny Hernandez, who enters with a season-best 5K time of 18:46.90. Also coming in with sub-20 times are junior Jace Coller (18:48, by virtue of an eighth place finish at the Oct. 2 Whistle Pig Invite at Craig) and sophomore Saul Ramirez (19:55.10)

For the Rifle girls, senior Karisa Coombs is the top runner for the Bears with a season-best time of 21:40.40.

Top runners for Coal Ridge boys are sophomore Tyler Parker, who enters the regional meet with the 11th fastest time at 18:07.41. Other Titans at sub-20 on the season are sophomore Ezra Williams (18:59.11), junior William Parra (19:25.75), freshman Dallin Karen (19:30.49), junior Ethan Polland (19:34.71) and senior Jack Price (19:38).

For the Titans girls, sophomore Mikayla Cheney comes in with the best shot to qualify for state, with a season-best 18:58.84. Junior Araceli Ayala also has a shot if she can improve her season best of 20:45.70.

Grand Valley’s prospects in the 2A Regionals ride on senior Keaton Jansen, who enters with the 10th fastest time at 18:35.94. Others with a shot at qualifying for state include senior Keenan Strauss (19:19.07), senior Nikolai Stammer (19:19.10), and sophomore Kade Sackett (19:31).

For the Cardinals girls, senior Alex Mendoza comes in with a season-best of 21:19.34.