Year in review: High school sports brings stories to remember |

Year in review: High school sports brings stories to remember

Jon Mitchell
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
Grand Valley High School's Cody Pfau wrestles against an opponent during the Class 3A state championships on Feb. 22 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Pfau became the first female in Colorado history to reach the tournament's championship round with her 6-5 first-round victory over Ferdinando Martinez of Fort Lupton.
Darcy Copeland/DC Photo/ |

There wasn’t a shortage of good sports stories in the Rifle and Parachute areas in 2013.

There were athletes who came close to winning state championships. There were teams that won league championships and, to top it off, gave themselves a chance to win a state championship.

Then there were others who, coming into the year, weren’t expected to compete in any way, shape or form.

Those people are the ones who raised the proverbial eyebrows highest over the course of the calendar year, and they highlight a look back at a busy sports year in the area.

Grand Valley’s Cody Pfau makes Colorado wrestling history

Cody Pfau had garnered plenty of accomplishments over the course of her youth and high school wrestling career. None of them, however, made as much noise around Colorado as Pfau’s first-round victory in the Class 3A State Championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Pfau netted a 6-5 victory over Ferdinando Martinez of Fort Lupton, becoming the first female to post a victory in the championship round of the state tournament at any level. The nail-biter match was in doubt until the final seconds, even to Pfau.

“I kind of stood there [when the match was over] and waited to see if I should be happy or not,” Pfau said on Feb. 21.

Pfau finished the tournament 2-2 and wasn’t able to reach the podium in the 106-pound bracket. Still, the win earned her recognition at the annual Sportswomen of Colorado awards banquet — where Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin recognized her. She also wound up winning her third national wrestling championship, claiming the 105-pound title at the Junior Women’s Freestyle Nationals at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D.

Pfau now attends Oklahoma City University, where she is currently 10-0 as a collegiate wrestler for the Stars.

Jake White beats the odds

Another Grand Valley graduate, Jake White, had to overcome an enormous amount of adversity just to return to the playing field.

White, who was a three-sport athlete at Grand Valley High, suffered what looked to be a debilitating injury prior to the Cardinals’ first-round state playoff football game on Oct. 31, 2012. A 22-inch long piece of angle iron went through White’s left thigh — barely missing his femur — and prompted doctors to strongly consider amputation of his leg before conducting a 10-hour surgery to remove the metal.

Months of rehabilitation, fundraisers and medication followed, but White was able to return for his senior season of baseball in late February. And he wound up one of the best players in the Class 3A Western Slope League, despite a 5-12 overall record for the Cardinals, hitting .429 with 13 runs scored, 16 RBIs, four doubles, five stolen bases and a home run.

White, at the end of the season, was a first-team award winner on the WSL’s all-league team.

Three-peat for Rifle football team

Rifle High School’s football team claimed a share of the Class 3A Western Slope League title, putting the Bears atop the league standings for the third consecutive season.

Rifle finished the season 8-3 overall and 7-1 in WSL play, with its only league loss coming in a 28-27 setback against co-league champion Palisade on Oct. 5. The Bears also reached the Class 3A state playoffs for the third consecutive season, losing to eventual state champion Coronado, 34-31.

The Bears won the outright league championships for the WSL in 2011 and 2012, reaching the 3A state title game in 2012. Rifle’s loss to Palisade snapped a 25-game regular-season winning streak for the Bears.

Rifle boys, girls hoops teams make playoff runs

Rifle’s boys and girls basketball teams reached the Class 4A state playoffs this past season, with the Rifle boys overcoming a slow start.

The Rifle girls finished the season with a 17-8 overall record. The Bears reached the Sweet 16 round of the Class 4A state playoffs, only to lose to Montrose, 43-33, on the road.

Rifle’s boys basketball team began the 2012-13 Class 4A Western Slope League season with a 1-6 league record. Then the proverbial light switch flipped, and the Bears went on a nine-game winning streak that vaulted them into the Class 4A state playoffs. Rifle, which finished the season 13-10 overall, ended up suffering a first-round playoff loss to Montrose.

Rifle volleyball snaps postseason drought

The Rifle volleyball team posted its first playoff appearance in 12 years, finishing in a three-way tie for fifth place in the Class 3A WSL. The Bears lost their two matches at the 3A regional at University High School in Greeley.

Rifle, which finished the season with an 11-14 overall, record, will move back up to Class 4A for volleyball next season.

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