Top 5 sports stories of the year
Editor’s note: This is the second installment of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent’s rundown of the top 10 sports stories from 2008. We reviewed stories No. 6 through 10 on Sunday and today we’ll take a look at Nos. 1 through 5.
Perfection is tough to come by in the world of sports, especially in football.
The New England Patriots famously flirted with perfection in the NFL playoffs early in 2008 and fell flat on their face once they got to the Super Bowl.
Somehow, some way, the Glenwood Springs High School football Demons were perfect in 2008.
Winning 14 games, most by lopsided margins, the Demons did what no Glenwood Springs High School football team had done in 28 years.
They won a state championship.
Beating Fort Morgan 23-14 at Cherokee Trail High School’s Legacy Stadium on Nov. 29, the Demons accomplished a quest ” one fueled by unrivaled focus and determination ” that was more than a year in the making.
Brought together by a crushing first-round exit from the 2007 3A state playoffs, the Demons went to work early to ensure there’d be no early exit in 2008.
They spent their summer in the weight room and at camps, with each and every Demon determined to settle for nothing less than a 3A state title.
Once Glenwood hit the gridiron, the hard work paid off.
Averaging nearly 42 points a game, the Demons rolled through the regular season unscathed and then began putting a hurt on teams in the postseason.
Glenwood blasted Roosevelt 52-10 in the first round, outgunned Berthoud 50-39 in the quarterfinals and beat up on Mountain View 47-14 in the semifinals to earn its fateful date with Fort Morgan.
The scene on the turf at Legacy Stadium was one of pure euphoria after the Demons held on for the win behind 202 passing yards and three touchdowns from senior quarterback Dakota Stonehouse. Michael Hudson finished with 125 yards rushing and Kevin Screen hauled in both scoring passes.
Hudson had the quote of the day in attempting to sum up his feelings after the win.
“I can’t explain (the feeling),” he said. “I don’t want to cry, but I want to cry, but I don’t want to cry, but I’m so happy. I’m laughing and kissing golden balls. It’s amazing right now.”
It was the Demons’ third title in school history. They had last won it all exactly 28 years prior in 1980. They also won a championship in 1978. Both were at the 2A level.
It couldn’t have been scripted much better.
Grand Valley, behind individual state titles from brothers Tyler and Cody Miles, won the Class 2A state championship.
Tyler, a sophomore, won the 152-pound title and his senior brother, Cody, won it all at 160 pounds as the Cardinals celebrated a team state title in just their sixth year as a wrestling program.
It was the cap of an amazing season for Grand Valley, which also saw Ryan Gallegos finish second at 130 pounds and James Drinkhouse and Jared Tonder each finish third at 125 and 135 pounds, respectively.
“At the beginning of the year, we knew we’d be solid, but still this is kind of unbelievable,” Tyler Miles said afterwards.
Coach Rick Gallegos, who started the program and set up a well-structured feeder program in Parachute, went on to win Class 2A coach of the year honors from RockyPreps and both Miles brothers were all-state.
The Cardinals moved up to Class 3A for the 2008-09 school year.
One more made basket. That’s all they needed.
The Grand Valley Cardinals girls basketball team lost 48-47 to the Wray Eagles in the Class 2A state championship game last March.
The blue collar Cardinals started their run at the state title with a 61-50 win over No. 3 Holyoke and a 38-33 win over No. 2 Rocky Ford.
In the title game, the Eagles and Cardinals traded the lead 11 times. Trailing by eight points at one juncture late in the game, Grand Valley’s then-sophomore Erin Vanderpool scored five unanswered points to pull within one at 44-43, and that’s as close as they got.
The Cardinals last chance came on a desperation halfcourt shot that banked high off the glass.
They entered the tournament as the sixth-seeded team, without anyone giving them much of a chance. Taking out undefeated Rocky Ford to get to the title game, the girls knew they had it in them.
Some late-season troubles may have left the Cardinals looking like they weren’t ready to contend for a title. Getting to the title game, and being so close to a win, these girls showed what a tough team they were.
Despite the defeat, head coach Mike Johnson and the Cardinals got a taste of something few teams ever get to know.
“You know, I still feel like I felt (after beating Rocky Ford),” he said. “How many coaches get to coach in that kind of atmosphere? The kids got to go out there and see what that feels like. It was an awesome experience.”
Their run was due to trust and team chemistry, Vanderpool said.
“When you see someone running like that you know they want it,” Vanderpool said, “and it makes you want it so much more. It lights a fire.”
Glenwood’s own Bobby Julich and Jeanne Golay have each had long and productive professional cycling careers.
Julich announced his retirement in September, while Golay was inducted into the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame in November.
Julich, 37, knew he made the right decision while biking a mountainous route in the Reno-Lake Tahoe area.
Julich, Tour de France and Olympic veteran, had competed in nine Tours, before being left off Team CSC’s roster the past two Julys. His best finish came in 1998: a third-place, podium finish. He went on to win a time-trial bronze medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, following that with perhaps his best
professional season in 2005. That year, he became the first American to win the Paris-Nice race in addition to wins at Critrium International and the Eneco Tour of Benelux.
Now, the 1990 Glenwood Springs High School graduate has returned to the sport as Team Saxo Bank-IT Factory’s rider development manager.
Golay is a former world champion and two-time Olympic team member. She has nine national titles, five World Championships medals, and was in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.
Carbondale’s Carrie Messner-Vickers gave it as much as she could in the 3,000-meter steeplechase finals at the U.S. Olympic track and field finals in July. She pushed her body to its limit, taking eighth place, but didn’t earn an Olympic berth.
“I was mostly passed out at the end,” the 31-year-old Carbondale runner recalled. “About the last 100 (meters) of the race, I was literally seeing tunnel vision. It was the first time in my life I kind of blacked out and had to be helped off the track.”
Even though she didn’t get the top-three finish needed to make the U.S. steeple team, she finished the race with everything she had. And that’s what she went there to do.
“Going into it, I knew to make the team I’d have to give it everything I had,” she said. “I’d rather have gone out and put it all out there and given myself a chance to then hang back and run for a place.”
She hung with the lead pack for most of the race, but a late push by the top three runners left the four-time All-American at the University of Colorado with eighth.
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.