2006 Sports Year in Review (Nos. 1-5) | PostIndependent.com

2006 Sports Year in Review (Nos. 1-5)

Joelle Milholm and Phil Sandoval
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kara K. Pearson/Citizen Telegram photo

From a trio of state title winners in three different sports to tremendous team performances by Roaring Fork and Grand Valley, 2006 was a great year for area athletes.

After winning meets all year long, Glenwood Demon swimmer Emily McDonald finally got the chance to prove she could go up against the best freestylers around at the state competition in Fort Collins in February.

And they didn’t stand a chance.

The two-time All-American won the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle events by a landslide.

In a span of one hour, McDonald increased the number of swimming gold medals in the history of the school from zero to two. McDonald left other swimmers in the state eating her bubbles and earned the top sports moment of the year.

In the same meet, McDonald also helped the Demons’ 200-free relay and 400 free relay squads race to fifth place finishes while the team finished fifth overall as well.

McDonald will be looking to get more medals at the 2007 state meet.

Winning one state wrestling championship is an accomplishment unto itself. Repeating the honor is very, very rare.

Senior Luke Wooten beat the odds when he pinned Kyle Avery of Montrose in the second period of the Class 4A, 130-pound title match at last February’s state tournament in Denver.

How rare is it for an area competitor to become a back-to-back state champ?

According to Rifle High’s archives, it’s occurred just once before ” 37 years ago when Jim Sheridan accomplished the feat in 1967-68.

Wooten’s focus on earning a second-straight championship came immediately after taking his first 125-pound division gold medal.

“It was on my books all year,” he said. “I wanted to win all my matches (at state) by pin or technical fall. So, it was awesome,” he said of the method he used to get the victory.”

Nobody wins a sprint race, much less a state championship from lane eight at a track meet.

Repeat. Nobody.

Sam McKinley made rubbish of that statement when he turned the fastest time of the eight finalists in the boys Class 2A 200 meters in Pueblo.

Running square up against the concrete stands of Dutch Clark Stadium, McKinley zipped in at 23.03 seconds. Earlier, the Grand Valley High junior took the 2A 100-meter crown in a hand-held time of 10.89 (11.5 electronically).

Both were school records.

It was one of three noteworthy efforts McKinley was part of in 2006.

As a starter on the Cardinals basketball team, he contributed to Grand Valley’s making a repeat trip to the Class 2A state tournament.

In the fall, he also qualified to the state Class 4A boys golf tournament.

Those were just a part of a huge year for Cardinals athletic teams and individuals.

In track, Katie Bryan qualified for state in four events and set a career best time at the 3A state cross country meet.

As a member of the girls basketball team, Bryan helped propel the Cards to the 2A state “Great Eight,” after winning league, district and regional titles.

On the football field, led by standouts Tyler Jensen, Danny Manzanaras and Richard Gallegos, Grand Valley finished the regular season with an 8-1 record, earning a spot in the Class 1A football playoffs, their first appearance since 1999.

It was unsuspected, unlikely and unbelievable.

With two seconds to go in the Class 3A elite eight state basketball match-up between Faith Christian and Roaring Fork at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Ram leading scorer Christian Tena had the ball and was going to the hoop. All of the sudden, he kicked it out to A.J. Joiner, who was wide open on the perimeter.

Joiner fired off a shot that clanked of the back of the rim, hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity, and then swished through.

The trey knocked off Faith Christian 52-49 and the Rams headed to the semifinals. Roaring Fork then rolled over Pagosa Springs 49-39 to face Denver Christian in the state championship. Although the Rams lost 68-42, they finished the season with a 23-3 record and took their fans on one heck of a ride.

Up and down, up and down. Over and over and over again.

That’s what Greg Hill and Jimmy Faust did for 24 hours, covering 50,100 vertical feet to set a World Record at the inaugural 24 Hours of Sunlight in February.

Climbing up and skiing down Beaujolais for 32 laps, the two kept each other company from day break to moonlight, through freezing temperature and burning hamstrings, to set the record.

Hill and Faust each averaged lap times around 30 minutes for the first few, then kept their laps under 50 minutes for the remainder of the race. Stopping only from brief moments to change socks, rehydrate or grab some food, neither took a substantial break.

Their super-human efforts were enough to be best in the world and definitely in the top 10 for the year.

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