Demons, Thompson among 2009’s big winners
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
As promised, here’s another batch of local sports stories that left us riveted in 2009.
Track down a copy of Friday’s paper for the first installment of this two-part Year in Review series.
Stories are in no particular order.
Losing roughly 20 seniors from a team that won a Class 3A state championship in 2008, few thought Glenwood Springs High School’s football team had the horses for a big 2009.
Well, they did.
The Demons went 7-5, were within a game of capturing their third straight 3A Western Slope League title and even won a playoff game.
Considering many on the roster were lean on varsity experience, those feats are nothing to scoff at.
After defeating Elizabeth, 24-3, in the opening round of the state playoffs, the 2009 Demons saw their surprising season come to an end in the state quarterfinals against Valor Christian, a team that went on to win a state title.
“I’m proud of my team,” Glenwood junior quarterback Luke Jacob said as he stood on the turf at Valor Christian after a season-ending 51-28 defeat. “I’m proud we could get together and do what we did. It sucks to have it come to and end, but all great things do.”
Run fast and jump far. Those are the words Roaring Fork High School graduate Tyler Thompson often heard from coaches during his prep track and field career.
And those are two things the Ram did well in his final year of high school, winning Class 3A state titles in the triple jump and long jump at the state track and field meet back in May.
“That was my coaching most of high school – run fast and jump far,” he quipped after claiming the triple jump crown at Lakewood’s JeffCo Stadium with a leap of 46 feet, 91⁄4 inches.
Thompson won the long jump title by soaring 22 feet, 1 inch.
“I never would have imagined this, ever,” said an ecstatic Thompson afterward. “I’m extremely happy right now.”
Thompson is now a member of the University of Colorado’s track and field team.
Coal Ridge High School’s boys basketball team captured the attention of Colorado hoops enthusiasts in 2009.
The Titans went 21-5 and made the program’s first trip to Class 3A’s Great Eight in Fort Collins.
They also made a name for their 4-year-old school in the process.
“I think we made a name for Coal Ridge on this side of the mountain,” then-senior Eric Schmitz said in Fort Collins after his team’s exit from the state playoffs. “Hopefully the younger guys can make a name for us next year and in the coming years.”
“They’re happy with what they’ve accomplished coming where they came from,” coach Paul Harvey added. “I saw them at their first practice as freshmen back in summer ball. They’ve come a long ways.”
Glenwood Springs Whitewater Park became the center of the kayaking universe for a weekend when the U.S. Kayak Freestyle Team Trials hit town in late May.
The event drew sizable crowds and big-name competitors to Glenwood’s wave, which many regard as one of the best features out there.
The weekend even included a big win by Glenwood’s own Michael Palmer, who notched a third-place junior division finish.
All in all, the weekend was a success, one that may lead to Glenwood someday hosting a world championship event.
“It’s been 10 years in the making. Ever since the first ideas from, ‘Hey, we really need a cool spot on the river,’ to bringing it all the way to this, where we’ve got the top event in the nation coming here and everybody’s celebrating the river,” said the Glenwood wave’s engineer, Jason Carey of RiverRestoration.org. “I think it really turned out great.”
From Rifle High School’s James Conrardy finally landing his long-coveted state title to four Grand Valley wrestlers finishing second, local grapplers made their presence felt at the Colorado state wrestling tournament in February.
Conrardy, a senior whose three previous trips to the Pepsi Center in Denver yielded third-place finishes, defeated Greeley West’s Nathaniel Garcia 10-4 to win Class 4A’s 140-pound weight class.
He was one of several Bears to advance deep into their brackets. Heavyweight Tad Davis finished second, while 135-pounder James Martinez and 215-pounder Brian Key each took home bronze.
As a team, Rifle finished fourth.
As for Grand Valley, it had its fair share of state successes as well.
All told, four wrestlers – James Drinkhouse (130 pounds), Jared Tonder (140), Ryan Gallegos (145) and Joe Joyner (285) – reached championship matches. All finished second.
The Cardinals, who won a 2A state title as a team the previous year, placed third overall in their first year at the Class 3A level. Only state champion Centauri and runner-up Olathe finished higher.
With five juniors leading the way, Roaring Fork High School enjoyed a breakout volleyball season in the fall of 2009.
The Rams won 22 matches, were 3A Western Slope League champs and came agonizingly close to a trip to the state tournament. Only a loss to Faith Christian in a one-game tiebreaker at the 3A Region D Tournament kept Roaring Fork from a state berth.
Still, the Rams came of age in a big way in 2009. And, with those five juniors – Landon Garvik, Niki Burns, Ixchel Muniz, Joey Clingan and Savanna Phibbs – all returning, they should be a force in 2010.
“It’s neat to see it all come together,” coach Carrie Shultz said during Roaring Fork’s postseason run. “You know, it’s a combination of maturing and a little direction. They have the attitudes and they have the enthusiasm for the sport.”
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