Nominees for top sports stories of the year

Staff Report

As the new year approaches, it’s a great time to reflect and remember all the great sports moments of 2007. There’s a bunch to choose from, so we need your help narrowing it down to the top 10. Below we listed our 2007 highlights:

Hoops title for Grand Valley boys

Grand Valley scored its first state title in school history when its boys basketball team conquered the Class 2A playoff field in March. The Cardinals capped their historic run with an 85-74 win over Burlington in the title game.

Return to gridiron glory for Demons

At long last, Glenwood Springs football is back. The Demons made the playoffs for just the second time in 17 years, and they did it with an unblemished regular-season record of 10-0.

Roaring Fork’s boys basketball program continued its dynastic run in the Class 3A ranks in 2007, though the Rams still didn’t land that ever-elusive state title. Roaring Fork made the state tournament for a fourth straight year.

Local running icon Paul Driskill inspired yet again, this time by quickly recovering from tragedy to race again at this year’s Turkey Day 5K. Just two months earlier, the 70-year-old had been left for dead after being hit by a car in a hit-and-run accident. Driskill was running at the time of the accident, which left him severely injured and nearly cost him his life.

After years as a defensive coordinator in the collegiate, Canadian Football League and even Arena Football League ranks, Glenwood Springs native Rich Stubler got his coaching due in December, taking over as the head coach of the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts. Stubler is the son of late local legend Nick Stubler, who crafted a legacy as a coach and athletic director at Glenwood Springs High School.

Grand Valley hadn’t been a football power in forever. That changed in 2006, when the school made the playoffs for the first time since 1999, and then got even better in 2007 when the Cardinals posted a perfect 9-0 regular season record. They finished the season 10-1 after bowing out in the second round of the 1A playoffs.

The Glenwood girls basketball team took us all on one wild ride in the Class 4A playoffs. After an easy 64-36 victory over Northridge in the first round, the Demons went to Craig where they disposed of Pueblo County 77-67, and Rifle 65-56 (after splitting two league contests that totaled four overtimes with the Bears during the regular season) to roll to the Final Four in Boulder.

That’s where the ride came to a stop as the Demons fell to Harrison 57-41 to take fourth in state.

Rifle High School and the football playoffs are synonymous. The Bears made it 13 straight years of qualifying for the playoffs by taking the Class 3A Western Slope League’s fourth spot with a 6-4 regular-season record in 2007.

Glenwood Springs junior quarterback Dakota Stonehouse enjoyed a breakout season in directing the Demons to a 10-0 regular-season record and Class 3A Western Slope League title, accounting for 48 total touchdowns ” 31 through the air and 17 on the ground. His gridiron exploits earned him a selection to the RockyPreps’ 3A All-State team.

Hostile environments of fans yelling at officials at high school sporting events hit a peak when Basalt’s Mayor Leroy Duroux got ejected from a Roaring Fork-Basalt girls basketball game in Carbondale. Officials didn’t want to call games for Basalt, for what turned out to be a short time, stirring the pot for a call for sportsmanship awareness from spectators at prep games.

After winning the Class 4A 50 and 100 freestyle events in 2006, Glenwood Springs High School swimmer Emily McDonald was a favorite for a repeat in 2007. A shoulder injury changed that and with one last meet to swim in, McDonald chose to help her team try to win regionals.

With a dislocated shoulder, McDonald won the 100 butterfly and helped the Demon 400 free relay team to a victory as Glenwood finished third at the meet.

It may have been hard to come by, but Coal Ridge earned its first varsity football win on Oct. 5, beating Basalt 12-11. The third-year school ” in just its second year of varsity ball and first year with a senior class ” celebrated hard after the long-sought win.

After riding in the Tour de France nine out of the last 10 years, professional cyclist Bobby Julich is left off Team CSC’s lineup for the Tour. Julich, a 1990 Glenwood Springs High School graduate, said he was OK with the decision and noted, “We have many great riders and my results this year have not allowed me to make the cut.”

The omission lead to retirement rumors that were later laid to rest for the 36-year-old, when he signed a one-year deal with CSC.

Rifle senior wrestler Tim Long overcame a midseason meniscus tear to battle back and tear through the 152-pound Class 4A state wrestling bracket to a title. Long had a 33-4 record on the year, winning the title after recording a pin, a major decision and two decisions in the state tournament.

Glenwood Springs resident Bill Pinkham and his dogs raced to a 32nd-place finish at the Iditarod, his highest place in five years in the competition.

Pinkham completed the 1,100-mile race in 11 days, five hours, 35 minutes and 40 seconds. Of three Colorado mushers in the race, Pinkham was the only one to finish.

Glenwood Springs High School cross-country coach Michael Schneiter tackled a world record at February’s 24 Hours of Sunlight at Sunlight Mountain Resort, covering 36,048 vertical feet with a snowboard in a 24-hour period. He used a split-boar, which splits like skis to go up the mountain and comes together like a snowboard for the trip down. He crushed Jonathan Baker’s 2006 mark of 20,215 vertical feet.

After the Demons won regionals for the first time since 1997, the Glenwood Springs’ girls relay teams made quite the impression at May’s Class 4A state track and field meet in Lakewood, leaving with three top-seven finishes. The Demons’ 4×400-meter relay team (Meg Waibel, Taylor Goodstein, Melissa Buchanan, Laura Young) took third, while the 800 sprint medley team (Young, Gennie Bean, Lyndsey Wesson, Waibel) and the 4×800 team (Katrina Selsor, Abbey Barnes, Sharaya Selsor, Melissa Buchanan) took seventh.

Four freshman not only starred on the Grand Valley wrestling team in the 2006-07 season, they dominated. Ryan Gallegos, Jared Toner, Tyler Miles and James Drinkhouse proved they were ready to wrestle all earning trips to state. Gallegos took second on the Class 2A 119-pound division, posting a 34-2 record in his debut. Tonder took fourth. The four freshmen made up 2/3rds of Grand Valley’s state squad, with Cody Miles and Matt Cain also meriting invitations.

Did we forget something? If so, let us know.

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