We start with a shoutout to Eagle Valley's wrestlers, who start today at the Pepsi Center - Andy Armstrong, Ty LaFramboise, Cole Nielsen and Joey Sanchez.
First off, one of the joys of the job is seeing our local athletes and/or teams make it to the state level, and, in wrestling, you're coming out of one of the toughest regions. Well done, now, go get it at state.
• Armstrong's the No. 1 ranked wrestler at 220 pounds. He's 36-0 this year and was fifth at state last year. It's your time. Mountain View's Mason Barber is Armstrong's first opponent.
• LaFramboise enters as the eighth seed at 182. He takes on Pueblo County's Tony Molinaro. With a mark of 33-3, LaFramboise has shown that he can wrestle at 2A - where he was third with Norwood last year - and at 4A. And let's face it, having to wrestle Armstrong in practice is a definite bonus come the state tournament.
• This is Joey Sanchez's second appearance at state. He wrestled up as heavyweight last year. Although he acquitted himself well in that class, he's really at his true weight at 195 this year. That's reflected by his 27-9 record and his designation as the fifth seed. James Garrett of Mesa Ridge is first up.
• Nielsen drew the No. 8 seed at 170 and gets Pueblo Central's Montes Chandler out of the gate. Nielsen (22-9) is emblematic why we've seen an uptick in Eagle Valley football and wrestling the last few years. Nielsen's made state before ... two years ago at 145 pounds. That's work in the weight room, kids.
• OK, basketball time. On the boys' side, let's go for Devils-Huskies, Battle Mountain-Eagle Valley final at districts. Again people always ask me, "For whom do you root?" Answer No. 1 is the 2010 and 2012 World Series champion San Francisco Giants. Answer No. 2 is both teams, and when they face each other I want a close game with significance. It would be pretty cool to see our Hevils and Duskies play in a district-title game.
• To that end, the Eagle Valley boys definitely got a gift seeding-wise when Glenwood Springs upset Delta Tuesday. Not so fast, guys. First, the Demons are feeling pretty good about things. And, yes, the Devils have topped the Demons three times this year - twice in league and also at the nonconference Glenwood tourney. On the other hand, it isn't exactly like Eagle Valley's ran the Demons out of the building (55-43, 53-41 and 50-37).
Glenwood is one of those annoying teams - cough, Steamboat - which just seems to hang around in just about every game it plays. (Delta is the only team that blew the Demons out and, well, the Panthers are done.)
Eagle Valley does have all the tools to be a team which can make a run in state. But the Devils have to get a good state seed and that starts with Glenwood today, and the rest of the district tournament. Show me something, guys.
• Battle Mountain boys, first off, let's celebrate the fact that you didn't have to go to Montezuma-Cortez to play said Panthers. And here's a funny moment. I called Huskies coach Tom Padilla before Tuesday's game just to remind him to give me a call to report the score. I asked about Cortez, and Padilla said that the Panthers had a quick point guard. I said, "So do you."
This is our segue to our "big players, big game" theme for the Huskies. This does not mean the aforementioned quick point guard, Joe LyBarger, has to carry the team. (In fact, just the opposite, Joe.) Jack Kamby (great game against Cortez), Jimmy O'Rourke, John Roulon, Alex Banegas, go big. That's the way you win.
Durango's good, befitting a No. 1 seed, but results against comparable opponents (Palisade and Cortez) aren't overwhelming.
• There is a segue here, but it ain't as smooth. Cody Brown, heal fast, kid. Brown fractured his ankle against Glenwood nearly two weekends ago. The Huskies still beat Steamboat on the road last weekend, and Brown asked when was the last time the Huskies won up there. That was 2006. So when was the last time the Huskies took down a No. 1 in district play?
• OK, Eagle Valley girls basketball, their names are Skylyn Webb (No. 10) and Callie Gafford (No. 40). Those two are 37.8 of Delta's 58.6 points per game. (As a side note, how does a team score 0.6 points? That has to be harder than a 3.) That is the strategy today against the Panthers.
• Person to watch this weekend? Jackson Lounsberry. How is the father of Sam and Madeline Lounsberry going to bounce back and forth between Mesa and Central to catch six games?
• Without making this an entire column on why Maxpreps.com shouldn't do the seeding, here are a few reasons the system doesn't work. One, how are the Huskies boys seeded above Glenwood, to whom Battle Mountain lost twice, and ahead of Steamboat, season split? The rankings just seem to be based on overall record which doesn't take into account strength of schedule or, say, a Western Slope team's lack of ability to play higher level competition. (Slope teams can't get to the good competition in Denver - or even Durango and Montrose - because of the money involved in travel.)
Thus, teams play each other twice during a 14-game league schedule and teams are going to beat each other up. Summit beats Delta, which beats Eagle Valley, which beats Delta the second time around. Meanwhile, the Devils pound Rifle early and lose to a much-improved Bears team later in the year and so on.
The Delta girls went 14-0 in the Slope, a rare feat, and didn't get the No. 1 seed in districts. Boys' teams usually take at least one or two losses even when winning league - Palisade was 12-2 this year. That's too bad.
• Vail Christian boys basketball, you're not done yet with the regular season. Nice win at West Grand. By the way, the Saints are 5-3 on the road. That's worth noting because there have been years when Vail Christian has gone on the road against conference opponents and one could pretty much call it a loss ahead of time. You've got Vail Mountain and Plateau Valley this weekend. Take care of business.