Recapping a drama-filled year

Jeff Caspersen
and Joelle Milholm
Glenwood Springs CO Colorado

It most definitely was an eventful sports year in the Roaring Fork Valley, with state titles won, programs resurrected and streaks kept alive. Oh, and there was certainly a tale of inspiration or two. Paring the list of top stories down to a mere 10 proved a tall task. Here are Nos. 6 through 10. Check out tomorrow’s Post Independent for Nos. 1 through 5 and our readers’ top 10 list.

6. Glenwood girls

dazzle en route

to hoops state semis

Talk about a roller-coaster ride.

Glenwood Springs High School’s girls basketball team dazzled local basketball enthusiasts with a drama-packed playoff run that ended in the Class 4A state tournament’s Final Four.

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 with the Bears during the regular season in games that totaled four overtimes) to roll to the Final Four in Boulder.

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

Still, a team led by senior post Sam Ciani made major waves throughout the season, going 20-5 overall. While the Demons made it further than most in the playoffs, the holdovers say they weren’t satisfied with just the Final Four. They hope to cap the 2007-08 season with a state title.

“Yeah, I mean obviously we were so close we could taste the state championship,” Sharaya Selsor said. “Glenwood had never been there, much less had they won it. We really want to be a part of that first team.”

No matter where you attend a sporting event, you’ll see an official take a verbal beating from an angry fan or 20.

Well, the Roaring Fork Valley is no different.

Hostile environments of fans yelling at officials at high school sporting events hit a peak when Basalt Mayor Leroy Duroux got ejected from a Roaring Fork-Basalt girls basketball game in Carbondale on Feb. 3.

Official Jay Rickstrew had Duroux removed from the gym for making a hand gesture about basketball that Rickstrew found offensive.

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 among spectators at prep games.

After riding in the Tour de France nine out of the last 10 years, professional cyclist Bobby Julich was 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 led to retirement rumors that were later laid to rest for the 36-year-old when he signed a one-year deal with CSC.

Julich has put together a storied career that includes nine Tour de France appearances and a third-place finish at cycling’s “Super Bowl” back in 1998. He also won an Olympic bronze medal in the 2004 time-trial event.

Following the Tour from afar proved a challenge for Julich.

“Watching the Tour on TV is difficult, but first and foremost, I am a fan of cycling and of course will follow it every day,” he said days before the big race.

The Glenwood Springs High School girls track and field team peaked at the perfect time in the spring, winning the school’s first regional team championship in 20 years and then recording three top-seven relay finishes at the state meet in Lakewood.

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.

“We are so enthused. We can’t believe that we just won regionals with such a small team,” said Glenwood’s Laura Young after Glenwood’s regional triumph in Grand Junction. “Everybody chipped in.”

Coach Blake Risner couldn’t have been happier with the showing in Grand Junction.

“I am proud of the girls because they fought,” he said. “They were undermanned. They didn’t have the depth that the other teams did, but we fought at every position we had an opportunity to fight at.”

Rifle High School always seems to find its way to football’s second season, and the Bears punched their 13th straight trip to the playoffs by taking fourth in the Class 3A Western Slope League in 2007.

And, entering the playoffs as the 16th seed and with a 6-4 overall record, the Bears almost caught top-seeded Falcon off guard in the first round. They were within three in the final quarter before the Falcons pulled away for a 37-21 win.

Though the season came to a disappointing end with that first-round loss, the Bears took solace in once again getting that far.

“That’s one of the things I love about Rifle High School ” playoffs is our time of year,” head coach Damon Wells said. “We love having the challenge of the No. 1 team, and we played hard and had fun; we just wish it would have turned out differently.”

Rifle’s amazing playoff streak includes a 2004 state title and second-place finish in 2005.

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 Class 1A state playoffs with a 20-19 loss at Wray, but demonstratively established themselves as one of the state’s best on the gridiron.

“We have got a great group of kids coming back, and it seems like that is the path we are on,” head coach Mike Johnson said. “… I think we can build on this and put ourselves in the position to contend for a state title.”

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