RIFLE — For some reason Vail Christian’s Cooper Gould did not win Wednesday’s Rifle Invitational.
The senior finished second in the 3A ranks and third overall, shooting a 74 behind Steamboat Springs’ Will Firestone (72) and Aspen’s Will Hazen (73). Doubtless, Gould will be punished for this grave transgression by having to putt with his 4-iron in practice today.
Taking a somewhat serious look at a sometimes silly game, Gould had won two tournaments in a row (Gypsum Creek and Eagle-Vail) coming into Wednesday and a 74 is not exactly a impediment to his season.
In the continuing battle of the Vails, Vail Mountain School took second with 247 strokes, ahead of Vail Christian (254). Both local 3A teams have one thing in common: They’re kind of sick of Hazen posting scores like a 73. Hazen and the Skiers appear the team to beat, not that anyone would be looking to regionals in September in Durango.
VMS continued showing its depth on Wednesday. Ben Barron carded an 81, Oliver Pesso an 82 and Dylan Hardenbergh an 84. Tyler Hancock (85) didn’t score for the Gore Rangers, but he would have for every other 3A team and all but one of the 11 total teams present in Rifle on Wednesday. It’s this sort of depth that allowed Sean Weller to have an off day by his standards with an 89.
While VMS needs to get one of its five into the 70s to pursue Hazen and Aspen, Vail Christian might be finding its much-needed third. The Saints have Gould and Tony Clark, who had his first non-70s round of the season with an 86 on Wednesday. Vail Christian’s Crane McGuckin made his 2014 debut with a 94, not a great round, but certainly a starting point.
Battle Mountain was the only local 4A at Rifle. Coach Cassie Desmone was getting a look at different players in competitive situations with Hunter Fox leading the way with a 92, followed by Ryan Hanson at 93.
Eagle Valley was at Aspen on Monday and had its best performance of the season. Tanner Caldarola fired a season-low 81, as did Keaton Fedrizzi (86). Both Jay Bullock and Quinn McCord came home with 94.
All four schools are back in action on Monday at Eagle Ranch.
XC rankings tout Huskies
Co.milesplit.com came out with its preseason cross-country rankings, and both of Battle Mountain’s squads are in the top 10.
Battle Mountain’s ladies are No. 5 with defending champion Thompson Valley holding down the No. 1 spot. (The Eagles have four juniors/now-seniors returning from that title team). Meanwhile, the Huskies boys are tied for seventh with regional rival Durango.
As always with preseason rankings, the actual competition will determine the final standings. Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley get a look likely at just about everyone at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede, aka pre-state, in Colorado Springs today.
Devils softball falls
Basalt got the better of Eagle Valley softball, 15-1, on Tuesday in the season opener for both teams. The Devils are at Palisade a week from today.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.