Cretti tops 2002 sports stories
It all happened in the 2002 calendar year, but Roaring Fork runner Caroline Cretti ended one chapter of her athletic career and began another – both in dramatic fashion.
In her final prep competition last spring, Cretti defended her 1,600- and 3,200-meter state titles with record-setting performances in both events at the Class 3A state meet held in Pueblo.
Cretti won the 1,600-meter title for the second straight year with a time of 5 minutes, 9 seconds. The mark broke the state meet record of 5:12.22 set by former Roaring Fork standout Dana Boyle, but Cretti wasn’t entirely satisfied.
Her goal was a sub 5-minute time, but the scorching temperatures at the event didn’t work in her favor.
“I thought I could try to get under 5 (minutes) … but it didn’t happen,” Cretti said after the event. “It was hot and just wasn’t the day to do it.”
The day before Cretti broke her fellow Ram’s record in the 1,600, she shattered her own mark in the 3,200. Cretti clocked a time of 10:52.49, besting her previous record by almost 27 seconds and finishing nearly a full second ahead of the second-place runner.
A change of scenery didn’t slow Cretti down this fall.
As a freshman at Williams College in Massachusetts, Cretti, who ran cross country for Glenwood Springs High School, helped her team to its first Division III national title in cross country. She finished fifth in the 6-kilometer NCAA meet to earn All-America honors and was also named the New England region athlete of the year after winning the New England regional meet.
2. Rifle goes 10-0 in regular season
In many ways 2002 was a season of glory for Rifle High’s football team. But it was also a season of disappointment and unmet expectations.
The Bears finished the regular season 10-0 – the second time in school history a football team ended the regular season with an undefeated record – and won their second straight Class 3A Western Slope Conference title in as many years. It was also the second consecutive season Rifle posted a perfect conference record.
Ranked high in the 3A state preseason football polls, the Bears zoomed to the No. 1 spot in both the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post in the second week, and held that position for the remainder of the regular season.
The Bears’ 34-31 overtime win over Palisade at Stocker Stadium in Grand Junction solidified their reputation as one of the best teams in 3A.
Rifle blitzed through the rest of it’s WSC schedule, defeating the other five conference teams by 11 points or more, including shutouts over Steamboat Springs and Montezuma-Cortez.
The disappointment came in the playoffs. For the second year in a row the Bears fell in the first round at home.
The No. 1-seed Bears lost to Fountain-Fort Carson, 20-6, in the first round in what many deemed a major upset. Fountain-Fort Carson, however, proved to be a better opponent than many expected, advancing to the state semifinals.
Individually, Rifle had seven players named to the all-conference team and two voted to the 3A all-Colorado team. Head coach Darrel Gorham was named WSC Coach of the Year for the second year in a row.
3. Glenwood cheerleaders win 4A state title
After reaching the Class 4A state finals for the fourth consecutive year, the Glenwood Springs High School cheerleaders finally earned the golden megaphone.
Ranked second among the four cheer squads that advanced from the preliminary round of 31 schools into the 4A finals, the Demon cheerleaders vaulted over Pueblo South to earn their first-ever state championship.
The large contingent of Glenwood supporters who made the trip to the Denver Coliseum had no worries about the squad advancing to the championship round.
Still, there was a moment of worry when the first three qualifiers were announced and Glenwood wasn’t among them.
The Demons were the last group announced to reach the four-team 4A final round.
In the finals, The 16-member squad won the state title with an average of 93.2 out of 100 possible points. The mark bested Pueblo South’s average by 1.2 points.
And the cheerleaders have another title to shoot for in 2003.
Earlier, at a competition at Englewood High School in Denver, the Demon cheerleaders qualified for the Universal Cheerleaders Association’s ESPN-televised National Championships.
That event will be held at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. in February.
4. Ryan Whittington earns state wrestling crown
Ryan Whittington accomplished a feat in 2002 that few prep wrestlers accomplish.
Heading into his senior season, Whittington was ranked as the Class 4A’s No. 1 wrestler at 171 pounds in the “On The Mat” preseason polls.
And he never fell off that perch.
Whittington concluded the year as Rifle’s 13th state wresting champion in school history, completing the year with a 33-1 record.
At regionals, Whittington and teammate Shannon Squires won titles at 171 and 215 pounds, respectively.
Overall, the Bears sent eight wrestlers to the state tournament in Denver, and placed fifth in the team standings.
In April, Whittington, Rifle’s starting quarterback in 2001, signed a letter of intent to play football at Mesa State College in Grand Junction. He was redshirted by Mesa’s coaching staff this year.
5. Wertheim races to new records, wins at annual endurance events
Glenwood Springs is filled with community races of every discipline. But three annual competitions stick out as Glenwood’s marquee events: The Strawberry Shortcut, the Tri-Glenwood Triathlon and the Day of Infamy Snowshoe race.
Local athlete Charlie Wertheim has claimed ownership of two of the events.
For the second consecutive year, Wertheim won both the Tri-Glenwood and Day of Infamy, setting new course records in both events.
The Tri-Glenwood remains a local race, but draws elite competitors from around the region. Still, no one could top Wertheim’s record time of 1 hour, 17 minutes, 27 seconds on the course that includes an 825-meter swim at the Glenwood Hot Springs pool, a 15-mile bike ride and a 5-mile run.
The Day of Infamy Snowshoe race Wertheim completed 8-kilometer course at Sunlight Mountain Resort in 39:14.98, breaking his own record by 39 seconds and finishing 2:37 ahead of the second-place finisher.
The Strawberry Shortcut run, after being delayed due to the Coal Seam Fire, was again dominated by Front Range runners. Boulder’s Kristen Schwartz won the women’s 10K. On the men’s side, Front Range runners Teddy Mitchell and Mike Dudley tied for the 10K title and Mitchell went on to win the 5K race for the second straight year.
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