Glenwood Springs High’s basketball success top sports story of 2020
A look back at the interrupted sports year
Demons boys, girls score dual undefeated 4A WSL hoops seasons, sweep league honors
Before the impacts of a global pandemic rocked the sports world with canceled prep and college seasons and student-athlete heartbreaks, there was a great story told by the Glenwood Springs High School basketball teams.
Both the Demons boys and girls dominated the Class 4A Western Slope League, going undefeated in league play during January and February, en route to respective deep runs in the state playoffs.
The Lady Demons ultimately bowed out in the Sweet 16 to finish 21-4 overall, while the boys, ranked No. 2 in the 4A state tournament, made it all the way to the Great 8.
Led by a septet of seniors and under the guidance of second-year head coach Fred Heisel, the Demon boys went 22-4 on the season, falling to Pueblo West on the home court at Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium March 7.
Incidentally, had they won that game, the 2019-20 Demons still never would have seen the court again. The state basketball championships were called off that following week — the first of many coronavirus shutdowns.
For their efforts, the Demons program was awarded with several All-Conference selections, including Players of the Year Mitchell Burt and Natalya Taylor, and Coaches of the Year honors for Heisel and Lady Demons coach Rhonda Moser.
Demon divers, swimmers, wrestler, cross runners claim state medals
Several other Demons athletes also shined bright on the high school state championships stage during 2020.
Abby Scruton was the top Glenwood medalist, taking third place in the 1-Meter Diving competition. Teammates Juliet McGill and Libby Claassen were fifth and eighth, respectively.
Among the swimmers, Amy Madsen took fifth at state in the 100 Freestyle and seventh in the 200 Freestyle; Kylee Smith was ninth in the 200 Freestyle and eighth in the 100 Fly; and the 400 Freestyle Relay team of Amy Madsen, Haley Diemar, Sally McDonnell and Kylee Smith was sixth.
• Glenwood High School senior Amos Wilson battled back through the consolation rounds of the 3A State Wrestling Championships on Feb. 22 to take third place.
After a tough loss in the championship semifinal, Wilson pinned Colby Runner from Severance and dominated his third-place matchup with Weld Central’s Braden Baumgartner to claim the 9-5 decision.
• The COVID-altered fall cross country running season didn’t deter Glenwood Springs harriers Ella Johnson and Sophia Connerton-Nevin from improving their previous year’s showing at the 4A State Cross Country Championships. Johnson took fourth place overall with a 5K time of 18:24 and Connerton-Nevin was eighth in 19:07.
• Finally, Glenwood High’s boys hockey team, playing just their second season at the varsity level, went 12-6-3 on the season, advancing to the second round of the single-classification state playoffs. Glenwood was well-represented in the Peak League All-Conference selections as a result, with senior co-captain Ryan Kotz, a Coal Ridge High student who played for the Demons, and senior goalie Hunter Hadsock earning first-team honors.
Canceled spring sports season upends athlete goals
Following weeks of uncertainty about the fate of the high school spring sports seasons, the Colorado High School Activities Association on April 21 formally announced it was canceling sports and other activities for the remainder of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The news hit hard for senior athletes in particular who were looking to improve, or possibly even earn athletic scholarships in baseball, track and field, girls soccer and lacrosse.
Among them was Glenwood Springs High School senior Cole Houston, a pitcher on the Demons baseball team.
With his 90-mph pitching arm, Houston was set to receive multiple offers to play on scholarship, but needed to prove himself for one more season on the mound.
“Coming out of last year, I knew this was a really important season because a lot of people didn’t think the best of me,” he commented as the news of the lost season sank in. “I knew I could do a lot better.”
After committing to go to California Polytechnic State University, Houston still was hoping to make the baseball team as a walk-on.
The impacts of the pandemic have lingered into the 2020-21 high school sports seasons, with CHSAA scrambling to create a modified four-season schedule. Even that’s still been subject to delays and shortened playing seasons and a split football season that has seen some schools opt to play this fall, and others choosing to wait until Season C come March.
Football career sets roadmap for former Rifle back; brother follows in footsteps
Football shaped former Rifle High School standout Brooks Pressler after many years of injuries and setbacks at the high school and college level.
Ailments limited him to just six games in his career as a hybrid safety/linebacker at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. Still, he was able to be part of three Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championships.
In early 2020, though, Pressler was honored by the collegiate football world for his academic accomplishments, being named to the National Football Foundation’s Hampshire Honor Society.
“Football was secondary, and school is what allowed me to play football,” Pressler commented in an April interview with the Post Independent. “If there was no school, there was no football. What you’re taking out of school is what’s going to provide you with tools to be successful in life.”
In May, younger brother Carter Pressler agreed to follow the family bloodline to CMU, committing to play for the Mavericks and keep the Pressler tradition alive.
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