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Year In Review

Post Independent file photo/Kara K. PearsonRifle's Steve Wilson makes a tackle during the Class 3A state championship game. Rifle lost, 35-14, but the second-straight appearance in the title game was a surprise since the Bears lost 21 seniors from the 2004 title team.
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Discussions surely will arise. But, the agreeable point about this year’s Top 10 sports stories is that the 2005 list is that it’s as diverse as the area’s athletes.

Ranging from individual to team sports and youth to adult, each of the events chosen to this year’s Top 10 list have forged their in the memory banks of local supporters.

And just as sure, there are additional notable events and games which are of equal importance to fans of local schools, teams and organizations. Unfortunately, there had to be a stopping point. To which, the Post Independent staff hope you understand as we present the area’s Top 10 Sports Stories of 2005.



No. 1:

Rifle claws its way back to state football title game



To many, the task seemed extremely unlikely if not downright impossible.

Having to replace 21 seniors, most of them starters, along with a number of new coaches, 2005 looked to be a rebuilding year for the Class 3A defending state champion Bears.

Wrong.

After a slow start, first-year head coach Damon Wells’ new system took hold and Rifle, by winning its last three regular-season conference games were back in the 3A playoffs again.

Bryce Enewold’s extra-point kick after Tyson Thompson’s touchdown run in the final seconds of the fourth quarter gave Rifle a stunning 21-20 upset over No. 1 Northridge in the first round of the playoffs.

The Bears continued their winning ways by posting victories at home against Elizabeth and conference rival Steamboat Springs. The wins boosted Rifle into the state championship game for the second time in as many seasons.

Unfortunately, the Florence Huskies broke Rifle’s glass slipper in what had developed into Colorado prep football’s Cinderella story of the year when they defeated the Bears 35-14.

Enewold, lineman Mitch Kosht and tight end Cody Boe earned all-state honors after the season.

No. 2:

Roaring Fork powers its way to boys 3A hoops title game

An undefeated league mark was just the first act for Roaring Fork’s boys basketball team last year.

After completing the regular season at 12-0, the Rams, led by seniors Aaron Markham and Jon Lough, continued to dominate, won both the district and regional post-season titles.

The regional win earned the Rams a spot in the 3A state tournament where they polished off Bayfield, University, Faith Christian and Yuma in succession to earn a berth in the championship game against Denver Christian.

Roaring Fork fell 56-45 after getting themselves into trouble early when the Metropolitan League Crusaders took a 19-6 lead after the first quarter. The Rams pulled within three points by outscoring the Crusaders in the second and third periods, then fell back quickly when the Crusaders scored 21 points in the game’s final eight minutes.

The state title game appearance was the second strong showing in a row by the Rams under head coach Roger Walters. In 2004, the Rams placed third at state.

No. 3:

Luke Wooten wins individual state wrestling title

Under the scrutiny of 15,000 spectators and with the best prep wrestlers in Colorado on-hand, Rifle’s Luke Wooten won the Class 4A, 125-pound individual state title with a 3-2 decision over Kenny Seaver of Skyline.

Wooten entered the state tournament with a 26-4 record. In the span of the tournament’s three days, the Rifle junior wrestled his way to three straight victories in the winner’s bracket to face Seaver in the championship match.

Facing two ranked wrestlers entering the tournament, Wooten, ranked third in the division, rolled through the first three rounds of the state tournament with a 21-5 technical fall in the opener and a 13-7 win the second round. Wooten was pressured in the quarterfinals, but handled J.R. Roman of Pueblo South 7-3 to advance to the championship final.

No. 4:

Demons have nail-biting ride in state volleyball tournament

Glenwood Springs had an up-and-down run during pool play of the Class 4A state volleyball tournament, but, battled back to reach the brink of the semifinal round before getting eliminated.

The Demons with veteran leadership on the floor and a new head coach in Scott Nykerk entered the state tournament with a 23-3 overall record. It was the third time in four seasons, Glenwood earned their way to the big show.

In pool play, the Demons beat Cheyenne Mountain 3-0, then lost to Mountain View. The 1-1, Day 1 record set up a Saturday morning showdown with league rival Battle Mountain.

It turned out both teams would play each other twice that day. Glenwood won the first round to forced a three-way, one game each, round-robin tournament for the final semifinal spot.

The Demons advanced to a one-game showdown with the Huskies for a trip to the semifinals on the line. The game was a thrilling back-and-forth battle with the Huskies edging the Demons 27-25.

Leah Hinkey, who signed a volleyball scholarship with the University of Tennessee, ended her high school career by pounding out 54 kills with 14 blocks in the state tournament.

Hinkey, Leanna Lawson and Cheree Carver earned all-conference honors.

No. 5:

Rams continue football excellence with new coach

Chosen as a pre-season state Top 10 team in Class 2A football, the Rams got an unexpected jolt when long-time head coach Tory Jensen resigned a week before their season-opener.

No problem.

Matt Hauptly, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, took over and the team didn’t miss a beat.

Displaying a quick-strike offense, combined with a stout defense, the Rams mowed through the 2005 schedule, outscoring their opponents 411-137, complied a 9-0 regular season mark while winning a third straight conference title.

Paced by all-state selections Jake Bowman, Parker Nieslanik and Kade Gianinetti, Roaring Fork entered the playoffs with a No. 2 state ranking. In the regular season, the Rams cruised to a 54-34 win over the Rifle Bears, which advanced to the Class 3A state title game.

The Rams earned a hard-fought 21-12 victory over Lamar in the first round to set up another home game showdown with defending 2a state champion Faith Christian.

The Rams took control early jumping out to a 12-0 lead but two plays turned the game around. Faith Christian returned an interception for a TD and pounced on a bad punt snap to set up another TD. The final score was 20-12.

No. 6:

Bobby still pedaling strong

Bobby Julich followed up his bronze medal performance at the 2004 Summer Olympics with another strong showing on the bike in 2005.

In March, the 1990 Glenwood Springs High School graduate did something that no other American cyclist has ever done ” he won the prestigious Paris-Nice stage race. He would go on to win two more stage races in Europe in 2005.

At the Tour de France, Julich rode for the CSC team helping Ivan Basso to a second-place overall finish behind Lance Armstrong.

In November, Julich capped off his special year by making an appearance in Glenwood Springs. The Garfield County Commissioners recognized Nov. 17 as Bobby Julich Day at a party at the Buffalo Valley Inn. During the event, Julich, 34, told a gathering of fans, family and friends, “I’m from Glenwood Springs. Glenwood Springs will always be my hometown.”

No. 7:

Glenwood girls continue supremacy in the pool

Years of outdoor training came to an end at mid-season when the Glenwood High School girls swimmers and divers moved into the newly finished indoor pool at the Community Center in January.

The Demons took to the new facility immediately, setting a horde of new school records. Part of the celebration included Glenwood hosting a swim meet for the first time in the program’s history.

But, it was in the post-season when the 2004-05 team shined the most.

Amassing valuable team points from all sources, the Demons outlasted a stiff challenge from Gunnison to capture their fourth straight regional title in as many years.

Glenwood bested the Cowboys 227-220 by finishing first and sixth in the 400-yard freestyle relay ” the last event of the meet.

No. 8:

Demon cheer squad maintains its excellence at state

Glenwood Springs has established itself as having the best competitive cheerleading high school program on the Western Slope. The Demons showed why they deserve that honor by finishing second in the Class 4A all-girl division at the 2005 state spirit championships in December.

Starting among a field of 39 schools ” the largest of any involved at the preliminary level, the cheerleaders’ routine advanced them to the 4A finals for the eighth-straight year.

Additionally, in an earlier regional competition in Denver, Glenwood earned a bid to the 2006 National High School Cheerleading Championships in Orlando, Fla. It’s the fifth-consecutive year the Demons have received a bid.

No. 9:

Local runners earn national honors

The region continues to produce great runners.

Bernie Boettcher was voted as the United States Track and Field Association’s Men’s Masters Mountain Runner of the Year. It was the second time the Silt resident received the honor.

Along with dominating the local race scene, winning races in Glenwood, Aspen, Vail and Grand Junction, Boettcher also was the top American finisher at the Masters World Mountain Running Championships.

In the past year, from Nov., 2004-Oct., 2005, Boettcher won 30 of 61 races entered overall and 50-of-61 in the Masters division.

Carbondale resident Carrie Messner earned a spot on the USA Women’s Track team in the women’s 3000 meter steeplechase and finished 15th at the International Association of Athletics Federation World Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

She earned her way on the team by finishing third in the event at the U.S. Nationals. In Finland, Messner ran a personal best of 9 minutes, 47.47 seconds in the preliminaries, which advanced her to the event’s finals, where she recorded a mark of 10:11.20.

No. 10:

Grand Valley girls make first trip to state basketball tournament

Minus a key starter at the start of their post-season run, the Grand Valley Cardinals earned a spot in the Class 2A state playoffs when they defeated Dolores 55-33 in the West regional tournament.

Grand Valley forced Dolores into 25 turnovers while getting balance scoring from Jessica Cielatka (12 points) and 10 by Megan Johnson.

At state, the Cardinals finished sixth, earning their way to the 2A consolation championship game on a 57-36 win over Nucla. Grand Valley fell 39-34 to Jefferson Academy in the consolation championship game.

No. 10A:

Glenwood Springers send record number to Jr. Olympic meet

Their team number pale in comparison to most other youth track clubs they compete against, yet the Glenwood Springers always seem to have an abundance of talent on their relatively small roster.

This year, was one of the best for the local summer track club.

High marks at a regional meet, earned six members of the Springers a spot in various events in the U.S. Junior Olympics, held in Indianapolis. The list of 2005 JO qualifiers were the most in team history in current head coach Blake Risner’s tenure.

At Indianapolis, the Springers youth girls 4×800 meter team of Melissa Buchanan, Meg Waibel, Gretchen Herb and Katrina Selsor took sixth place, finishing in 10:01.16.

The mark earned the relay team All-American status.

Rachel Orozo earned 14th place in the Bantam girls shot put with a throw of 6.51 meters. Ryan Buchanan was 16th in the preliminary round of the Midget boys 800 meter run.


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