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Durango dispatches Battle Mountain 4-0 in Thursday boys hockey action

In a matchup of almost identical win-loss records, Durango landed the first big punch on Battle Mountain and never looked back. 

“They just entered the league and they came out strong,” Battle Mountain coach George Wilson said of the Demons, who came into Thursday afternoon’s hockey game with a 4-7-1 record, one loss different than the host Huskies.

“They’re hungry to show what they have.”

Three passes after winning the opening faceoff, Demon forward Loudon Doemland swung the puck from behind the goal line to Nick Best just outside the near face-off circle. Best’s right-handed slap shot went low to the left side of the net for a 1-0 lead just 26 seconds into the game. The Demons went on to win 4-0 over the Huskies at Dobson Ice Arena in the first of back-to-back contests between the Mountain League teams. 

Nick Best scored 26 seconds into Thursday afternoon’s game between Durango and Battle Mountain.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

“It was a positive game for us — the score wasn’t — we’re certainly in a slump with scoring, and that seems to be a theme for us this season,” Wilson said. “And we’ve got to get out of that slump. We’re mixing up lines, we’re trying to find the right combinations and sometimes that helps.”

The quick score jolted the home team into action, and Battle Mountain even had two power play opportunities five minutes later. Durango’s ensuing penalty kill was emblematic of a larger first-period theme, namely the Demon’s firm control of possession and sterling confidence. 

Declan Kelly peppered the Durango net with shots on goal during the second period of Thursday afternoon’s game in Vail.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

The closest look for Battle Mountain came with 4:22 remaining, but Nate Bishop’s shot from just right of the net went high. Shortly after, Durango pounced again with two Huskies in the penalty box. Battle Mountain goalie Kaia Borski Caruso made a pair of heads-up saves, but the third time was a charm for Durango, as Brady Holbrook punched in the power play goal off a dish from Pol Cavaller with 2:09 remaining in the period.

A Husky player fires a shot on goal during the first period of Thursday’s game against Durango in Vail.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

While Durango set the first-period tone, the second belonged to the Huskies. In fact, fans are forgiven for checking to see if the Demons were in a period-long penalty kill, as the puck found a nice home in the Battle Mountain offensive zone for most of the final 11 minutes. 

“The second period we dominated and it looked really good,” Wilson said. The only problem was that the plethora of chances all came up empty.

Declan Kelly’s backhand with 10:28 to go ricocheted away. Thirty seconds later, Miles Kipp joined Kelly for a nice two-man break that came up empty when Kelly hit the ice before getting a shot off. With 8:18 to go, the Huskies had a 3-on-2, but Trevyn Delong’s shot was blocked by a Durango defender’s stick. Ollie Grems got a shot on goal shortly after and the period ended with Delong and Kirk Slaugh peppering goalie Evan Brock’s net with two more hard shots.

“Probably moving the puck, taking our opportunities,” Wilson said when asked what needs to happen to increase the scoring percentage of his team’s scoring looks. “Sometimes I think we’re holding the puck too long and they’re getting in lanes, getting their sticks and legs and bodies in the shooting lanes and we’re not able to finish good scoring opportunities.”

Battle Mountain and Durango players fight for control of the puck in front of the Durango net during the first period of Thursday afternoon’s game in Vail.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

Coming up empty in the second period didn’t deflate the Huskies, who came out fighting to start the third. When Lucas Betz found the back of the net off a nifty pass from Jake Martin, however, the dagger had been driven. Four minutes later, a loose puck squirted into the Durango offensive zone and Betz collected it right in front of Borski. A quick deke to the left opened things high and Betz popped a backhand to the back for a second straight goal, sealing the win.

Battle Mountain fell to 4-7-1 with the loss. “We’re holding onto the middle of the pack but we’re hoping for a strong showing in the next couple of games and we’ll see what we can do,” Wilson said. Both squads will battle again on Friday at Dobson, with the puck dropping at 5:15 p.m.

Prep notebook: Huskies girls basketball avenges loss to Glenwood Springs by defeating Steamboat Springs 50-19

Battle Mountain’s girls basketball team was able to split a midweek doubleheader, rebounding from Tuesday’s 59-32 road loss to league-leading Glenwood Springs with a 50-19 win over Steamboat Springs on Wednesday in Edwards.

“We competed extremely well with them for the majority of the game,” coach Dan Caballero said after Tuesday’s matchup against the 12-5 Demons. “We just had some untimely turnovers and fouls.”

Caballero was pleased with how his guards controlled the ball and established a tempo they were comfortable with.

“I’m proud of the effort my girls showed tonight against another top-10 team. Rhonda Moser has an extremely well-run program and they have some talented girls,” Caballero said of Glenwood, which is tied with Eagle Valley at 2-0 in the four-team 5A Western Slope.

“We continue to get better every single day with a young core and we are maturing quickly.” He wasn’t lying about the maturation rate. Twenty-four hours later, his team came out with a defensive press that created havoc for Steamboat and elicited several easy transition opportunities for Battle Mountain.

Elle Glendining goes up for a basket against Steamboat Springs on Wednesday night in Edwards.
Rex Keep/Courtesy photo

“We were able to create some early layup chances for ourselves and then find our shooters on the outside as the game wore on,” Caballero said.

The Huskies led 21-13 at halftime, but outscored the visiting Sailors 17-1 in the fourth quarter en route to a dominant 50-19 win.

“Our biggest hurdle has been closing out games this year but in the last week our girls have worked extremely hard and we knew that the results of that hard work would follow,” the coach continued.

Three Huskies (4-10) scored in double figures, led by Cassidy Kurt with 12 points and five rebounds. Akeliah Hancock added 11 and Ashley Rodriguez dropped 10. Anna Glass was the queen of the glass, racking up 11 rebounds to go along with two steals and seven point and Alessandra Caballero led the team in assists with seven.

“Every single one of my girls played extremely hard tonight and I am so proud of the effort,” coach Caballero concluded. “We never quit and this is that paying off.”

The boys fell to Steamboat 56-30 in Wednesday night’s late contest. The Sailors had 22 points from sophomore Jeff Sturges and 19 more from senior Cade Gedeon to improve to 12-5 as the Huskies dropped to 3-12.

Keller Woodworth drives to the hoop in Wednesday’s loss to Steamboat Springs on Wednesday in Edwards.
Rex Keep/Courtesy photo

Both Battle Mountain squads travel to Montrose on Saturday before hosting Eagle Valley next Monday at 5:30 and 7 p.m.

Climbing notes

The American Scholastic Climbing League Western Slope Regional final will take place on Saturday at Eagle Climbing and Fitness. Wave 1, beginning at 9 a.m. and concluding at noon, will feature teams from Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley, Vail Christian and Vail Mountain School.

“This region is the largest in the state and includes some of the strongest athletes in the entire league,” said Larry Moore, owner of Eagle Climbing and Fitness.

“It also serves as the regional championship event for middle school athletes, their final event of the season.”

Moore expects roughly 200 athletes at Saturday’s competition and believes several local athletes have a shot at top placements. He pointed to high schoolers Elliot Gray-Lopresti, Reese Manley, Iris Sheldon and MaryBeth Friery as having podium potential.

To earn a trip to the state championship in Broomfield on Feb. 25, an athlete’s State Qualification Composite Score must put them in the top 10 of the region rankings. The best three in-region competition scores from the regular season meets, by percent, are averaged and count as 60% of the State Qualification Composite Score, with the remaining 40% coming from the regional. Twenty-four at-large bids from across the state’s four regions are also allocated for state.

Eagle Valley girls and boys basketball teams win tight road battles in Palisade

Road league contests often boil down to a comeback and a clutch play. Both Eagle Valley’s girls and boys basketball teams saw each in Tuesday night’s victories over Palisade.

“Absolutely wild finish to the game tonight,” stated girls head coach Vinny Cisneros.

In the evening’s first game, the Devils and Bulldogs entered the half tied, but Cisneros’ club would trail by as many as 13 points in the third quarter. Then, Josie Fitzsimmons took over. The junior, who came into the game averaging 11.9 points per game, scored 15 of her 24 points in the second half, including the game winning 3-pointer with five seconds to go, giving the Devils a 41-40 win.

Zakia Shreeve scored six, C.J. Yurcak added five, and Abby Talbot, Cedar Fitzsimmons and Sydney De Trolio each contributed a bucket for Eagle Valley as well. From a scoring perspective, however, the visitors were stifled for much of the first half and portions of the second.

“Their zone defense had all of us really frustrated; we had a poor night executing,” Cisneros admitted. “But these girls rallied defensively and Josie put us on her back offensively and the basketball gods rewarded our efforts.”

With 12 seconds remaining, the Devils — trailing by two — had the ball on an out-of-bounds play along the baseline, underneath their own hoop. In the timeout, Cisneros asked his athletes if they wanted to go for the tie or the win. The unanimous verdict to go for three came without hesitation, the coach said.

The Devils drew up a play for Fitzsimmons, but a rocky execution forced the guard to hoist a prayer over her defender. Still, the shot kissed off the backboard for the go-ahead score, the Devils’ first lead of the night.

“What a game,” stated Cisneros, whose team improved to 7-8 overall and 2-0 in the league. The Devils are at Delta (10-5) on Thursday before traveling to Edwards to face the Huskies on Feb. 6.

The narrative of the boys’ game was similar — comeback plus clutchness — but it was the Devils who let their opponent rally. Tied 7-7 after one and 20-20 after two, the Devils jumped out to an 11-point advantage going into the fourth after holding the Bulldogs to just three points in the third quarter. Their solid lead dissipated quickly.

“The game became a lot closer off some of our cold shooting,” head coach Justin Brandt said of the fourth quarter Bulldog comeback.

With four seconds remaining, Palisade had the ball — trailing by one — when senior Max Jaramillo came through as the hero, stealing the ball to seal the 45-44 win.

Max Jaramillo, shown here playing defense against Montrose on Jan. 21, stole the ball with four seconds remaining in the Devils one-point road win over Palisade on Tuesday night.
Isabella Almanza/Courtesy photo

“We held on to remain undefeated in conference play with a sweet win over Palisade,” Brandt stated. “It was a total team win — 11 different guys scoring.”

The Devils (8-9, 2-0 league) return to the hardwood to face Battle Mountain in Edwards on Feb. 6.

Eagle Valley’s girls and boys teams are both 2-0 in league play.
Isabella Almanza/Courtesy photo

Eagle boxer to represent Colorado at the National Silver Gloves Tournament of Champions

David Muruato of Eagle will represent the state of Colorado at the National Silver Gloves tournament in Independence, Missouri, on Feb. 8-12.  Muruato, a sixth-grade student at Eagle Valley Middle School, has been boxing for the Mean Street Boxing Club in Eagle for the last four years and will be competing in the 11–12-year-old 114 lbs. division.  

Muruato has twelve previous bouts, including three Colorado Golden Gloves titles, and will be representing Colorado on the Region Eight Team, which consists of boxers from California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado. The tournament will feature boxers ages 8-16 from eight regions across the United States and will be held over three consecutive nights. There is the potential to box three times, including the championship finals.

Muruato is a multi-sport athlete at Eagle Valley Middle School and his parents, Omar and Marcella, have been very supportive of his amateur boxing in addition to his football and basketball team participation. David will travel with his father and coach to the national tournament near Kansas City, which is significant, according to his boxing coach, Mike Pisciotta.  

Pisciotta stated, “David will be the first boxer to advance to a national tournament from the Mean Street Boxing Club since the program opened in Eagle during the summer of 2016.”

“The Eagle boxing program has produced several state Golden Gloves champions, but David will be the first boxer from the gym to advance to a national competition,” Pisciotta continued.

“David is an exceptional youth, and we are very excited to have him representing the Eagle community and the state of Colorado at this elite level.”

Prep notebook: Saints take down Plateau Valley for seventh win in a row

The Vail Christian boys basketball team used a balanced effort to defeat league rival Plateau Valley (9-3) 51-45 at home on Saturday. Quinn Downey dropped 14 points as three Saints hit double figures. Will Neumann went 5-for-6 from the field for 10 points and Jack Pryor added 10 points and four rebounds. Theo Moritz led the team in rebounds (seven), assists (six) and steals (three) as Saints cruised to a seventh-straight victory and handed the Cowboys, who are ranked No. 8 in 1A in the CHSAA selection and seeding index, their first league loss. The Saints selection and seeding index ranking is currently No. 10 in 1A.

Vail Christian improved to 10-2 and 5-0 in the Western Slope with the win — Vail Mountain School is the other undefeated team in the league at 3-0 (the Gore Rangers are 5-6 overall). The two teams face off on Feb. 7 at Vail Christian.

The Lady Saints stayed with the Cowboys for the first half of the girls game, also on Saturday. Leading just 20-17 at halftime, Plateau Valley used a 10-2 third quarter to pull away, dropping Vail Christian 47-29 to improve to 8-4. The Saints (4-7) head to Hayden (7-5) on Friday.

Grand Junction Central got the best of both Eagle Valley squads on Saturday. The boys moved to 7-9 after a 66-50 loss and the girls fell to 6-8 with a 61-32 defeat. Josie Fitzsimmons and Alyssa Jones each had eight points and Jones also collected nine rebounds to guide Eagle Valley; Cedar Fitzsimmons gathered five boards and distributed four assists as well.

Alessandra Caballero had 13 points and four assists and Ashley Rodriguez added 12 points, but Battle Mountain couldn’t take down visiting Basalt in last Thursday’s home non-conference matchup. The Huskies fell 56-45 to drop to 3-9 with a visit to league-leading Glenwood Springs (11-5) on tap for Tuesday night.

Hockey notes: Huskies fall to Crested Butte 5-1

In a rematch of the 2021 4A state hockey championship (and 2022 quarterfinals), No. 4 Crested Butte took down No. 7 Battle Mountain 5-1 in boys hockey action on Friday at Dobson Arena. Declan Kelly scored the Huskies’ lone goal with the assist from Connor Wadey. Battle Mountain (4-6-1 overall, 0-4-1 league) will be busy this weekend, hosting Durango (4-7-1) on Thursday and Friday and Steamboat Springs (7-3-1, 3-0 league) on Saturday.

Alpine notes: Demino speeds to giant slalom win in Keystone

Battle Mountain freshman Ruthie Demino had the fastest first run and second-fastest second run to top the 85-skier field at last Thursday’s Colorado High School Alpine ski meet at Keystone Resort. Demino finished with a combined time of 1 minute, 28.58 seconds as two Huskies placed in the top 10 and eight in the top 20. Fellow freshman Keena Shikverg (1:31.95) placed eighth to lead Battle Mountain to a third-place team finish.

Ava Crowley (1:31.32) led Vail Mountain School with a sixth-place finish.

Evergreen took a tight team title with 168 points, followed by Summit (167) and Battle Mountain (162). VMS (142) finished in fifth and Eagle Valley (131) placed sixth.

Colorado High School Ski League – Keystone girls giant slalom top-10
(place, bib, class, school, name, first run, second run, total time)
1   23   Fr    BMH   Ruthie * DeMino       43.16 (1)     45.42 (2)   1:28.58 (1) 
2   731  Jr    EVG   Adriana Kahanek       43.34 (2)     45.91 (3)   1:29.25 (2) 
3   742  Jr    EVG   Lexi Ornstein         44.04 (4)     45.23 (1)   1:29.27 (3) 
4   430  Jr    SUM   Luci Brady            43.70 (3)     46.21 (4)   1:29.91 (4) 
5   421  Fr    SUM   Lauren McCalla        44.90 (9)     46.25 (5)   1:31.15 (5) 
6   381  Sr    VMS   Ava Crowley           44.68 (7)     46.64 (7)   1:31.32 (6) 
7   423  Fr    SUM   Claire Jackson        44.71 (8)     46.68 (8)   1:31.39 (7) 
8   68   Fr    BMH   Keena Shikverg        44.58 (6)     46.98 (9)   1:31.56 (8) 
9   490  So    SSP   Emma McHaffie         44.92 (10)    47.03 (10)  1:31.95 (9) 
10  714        EVG   Sydney Lally          45.58 (15)    46.54 (6)   1:32.12 (10)
Colorado High School Ski League – Keystone boys and girls team scores

Girls

  1. Evergreen – 168
  2. Summit – 167
  3. Battle Mountain – 162
  4. Steamboat Springs – 150
  5. Vail Mountain School – 142
  6. Eagle Valley High School – 131
  7. Platte Canyon High School – 130

Boys

  1. Steamboat Springs – 173
  2. Summit – 168
  3. Battle Mountain – 163
  4. Evergreen – 150
  5. Platte Canyon High School – 141
  6. Eagle Valley High School – 89
  7. Vail Mountain School – team requirement not met, no team score

 

On the boys side, Battle Mountain’s Jakub Pecinka led all local skiers with a fourth-place finish in the 92-skier field, followed by teammates Cricket Byrne in seventh and Andrew Conley in ninth.

Steamboat Springs garnered 173 points to take the team win, with Summit (168) placing second and Battle Mountain (163) coming in third.

Vail Mountain, Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain all travel to Aspen for a giant slalom on Feb. 3 between A and B division teams.

Colorado High School Ski League – Keystone boys giant slalom top-10
(place, bib, class, school, name, first run, second run, total time)
1   461  Sr    SSP   Colin Kagan           41.21 (1)     45.08 (2)   1:26.29 (1) 
2   400  Fr    SUM   Seth Montgomery       41.90 (4)     44.52 (1)   1:26.42 (2) 
3   462  Sr    SSP   Brooks Overstake      41.48 (2)     45.68 (3)   1:27.16 (3) 
4   61   Sr    BMH   Jakub Pecinka         42.39 (6)     46.23 (6)   1:28.62 (4) 
5   411  Sr    SUM   Michael Cheek         42.56 (8)     46.14 (5)   1:28.70 (5) 
6   463  Sr    SSP   Fisher St. John       42.29 (5)     46.44 (9)   1:28.73 (6) 
7   12   Sr    BMH   Michael 'Cricket'     42.51 (7)     46.27 (7)   1:28.78 (7) 
8   412  So    SUM   Riccardo Novoa        42.71 (9)     46.41 (8)   1:29.12 (8) 
9   17   Sr    BMH   Andrew Conley         43.07 (10)    46.09 (4)   1:29.16 (9) 
10  19   Sr    BMH   Phillip D'Andrea      43.67 (12)    48.64 (14)  1:32.31 (10)

Maloit Park madness: Battle Mountain girls win, Vail Mountain School boys take third in home Nordic ski meet

Saturday had every ingredient for a perfect ski day — if your cup of tea is shredding pow.

For area high school Nordic skiers hoping to negotiate Maloit Park’s notoriously steep climbs in the Colorado High School Ski League’s third meet of 2023, the overnight accumulation and mid-morning flake falling presented tricky track conditions for those craving the ol’ stick-and-stride.

“The conditions were not exactly what I thought it would be or what I was hoping it would be,” said Battle Mountain senior Kyle Ross, who placed 14th individually for the Huskies in the 5-kilometer classic race. The course profile, combined with heavy snowfall, simplified the strategy for most: double-pole the flats and herringbone the hills.

Kyle Ross was the top Battle Mountain skier at Saturday’s high school league race at Maloit Park.
Rex Keep/Courtesy photo

“Climbing these hills with the new snow we got, it was just like powder,” said Lake County’s Jace Peters, who took the lead on the second of two 2.5-kilometer laps but was passed in the homestretch by Gray Barker. The Middle Park skier took the win in 14 minutes, 57 seconds. Peters (15:00), who was 40 seconds clear of Evan Morrison in third, charged into the lead on the penultimate flat, right before the peloton’s second trip up Weiland’s Way.

“I was like, ‘well I’m feeling good, might as well go,'” Peters said, adding that he hoped to close the door on the hillier upper section of the course. “In my race plan, that’s where I was really going to go, but I just couldn’t.”

Summit took the team title with 222 points, followed by Middle Park (196) and Vail Mountain School (187). The Gore Rangers placed two in the top 10 — Will Brunner (16:01) in eighth and Cyrus Creasy (16:04) in ninth.

“My goal was to fire through the first lap, kinda get a good spot for the boys and then just try to make it to the end,” said Creasy, who is looking forward to stepping up to the 15-kilometer distance at next weekend’s Junior National Qualifier club race in Steamboat Springs. “I felt pretty good.”

When it came to conditions, Brunner reiterated the reoccurring theme, albeit with a smile on his face.

“The steep ups were hard, the snow was so soft,” said the VMS junior, who succumbed to the ever-developing ruts on Maloit Park’s technical turns during the second lap.

“Getting around the corners was hard; it was just super soft.”

He wasn’t the only athlete to take a spill.

Eagle Valley Nordic skiers double pole across Maloit Park during Saturday’s Colorado High School Ski League races.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

“I couldn’t stay on my feet,” said Eagle Valley’s Eric Asselin with a smile after finishing in 18:58 as the Devils’ seventh skier. “Other than that, it went well.”

Ethan Barber’s 18th-place (16:41) led the Devils to a seventh-place team mark. Kai Skellion (17:36) and Tyler Blair (18:13) were 28th and 39th, respectively, to round out Eagle Valley’s scoring.

“It was good,” Blair said. “The stick was pretty good, had lots of fun. Some good downhills.”

Blair, who also runs cross-country for Eagle Valley, was shooting for a sub-18-minute time. His strategy was to incorporate his running ability. “That’s where I really went for it — on the uphills.”

The Devils, defending Nordic state champions, have a young but promising squad.

“I couldn’t ask for a better group of freshmen,” head coach Paul Steiner said.

“We have a lot of fast freshmen and a lot of new freshmen,” added Asselin.

Contrary to their down-valley rivals, Ross said the Huskies’ top skiers have generally been upperclassmen, a trend that continued Saturday. Juniors Miles McKenzie (16:47) and Dylan Sullivan (16:49) placed 19th and 20th in the No. 2 and No. 3 team slots, respectively. With the departure of Sullivan Middaugh, who placed third in the state classic meet last year, Ross has assumed increased leadership.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” said the senior, who plans on joining the University of Utah’s club Nordic team next fall. He credited off-season roller skiing and double-pole volume increases for improvements in his classic technique, which he considers his weaker discipline. Ross is still hoping for a top-10 or even top-5 finish at the state meet in Frisco on Feb. 16-17. Last year, the Battle Mountain boys were second to Summit by a mere 27.5 points.

Battle Mountain skiers compete at the Colorado High School Ski League races on Saturday at Maloit Park in Minturn.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

“It wasn’t a big loss, but a lot of the people that were on the states team last year are back, and I think the boys want to win,” Ross stated.

Whether the grip wax was dialed or not, one undeniable fact is that the girls likely faced even tougher conditions when they took to portions of the FIS-homologated course an hour later.

Athletes get out hard at the start of Saturday’s girls 5-kilometer classic race at Maloit Park.
Rex Keep/Courtesy photo

With transitions and cornering skills at a premium, Ella Bullock’s (17:38) talents were on full display. The Lake County junior stayed on her feet and used the upper course to pull away en route to a 24-second win over Sylvia Brower (18:02).

“I’m used to skiing in these conditions, without grooming,” Bullock — whose goal and expectation coming in was nabbing the top spot — said.

The Panthers finished with 208 points, good for second overall, as Battle Mountain (214), led by Lindsey Whitton’s (18:24) third-place finish, took the overall team title.

“Battle Mountain girls crushed it today,” stated head coach Jeff Apps. “Five girls in the top 20. Very proud of them.”

Addison Beuche on her way to an eighth-place finish at Maloit Park.
Rex Keep/Courtesy photo

Whitton, the defending state skimeister champion, who competed in a Nordic Town Series race on Wednesday as well as an Alpine meet Friday, was seeded as the Huskies fourth-best skier, meaning she came all the way from the second wave to secure her impactful overall finish.

“Which is pretty crazy,” noted Ross. “Nobody was expecting that.”

Kira Hower (19:16) and Addison Beuche (19:28) were seventh and ninth overall, respectively. Presley Smith, another skimeister, placed 11th.

Eagle Valley (148) charged to a seventh-place finish behind twins Ava (20:46) and Emma (21:24) Bergsten, who were 23rd and 29th, respectively.

“The course was better than I thought,” said Ava who approached the second trip up the “big hill” with stoic resiliency.

“I was just like, ‘push to the top of the hill and then you’re basically done.'”

“I think that was one of the hardest I’ve ever tried in a race,” her sister added. “I was really pushing it today. It’s not too cold which was nice. It was perfect.” 

Addison Marsh (22:33) rounded out the Devils scoring in 37th place.

Falling snow made for tricky classic skiing on Saturday as athletes struggled to find grip on Maloit Park’s steep uphills.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

“The entire team skied well today,” Steiner said. “We’re making new normals. Positive new normals.”

Even if some would rather powder ski through trees in the given conditions, a pleased Brunner summarized the skinny-ski spirit in regards to his choice of activity.

“It was fun to get out there and hammer. I think it was like a perfect day with the snow,” he said.

“The conditions were fun. It was an exciting race. I mean it’s beautiful out here today.”

Team Scores – Maloit Park 5K classic

Girls

Place Team Score

1

Battle Mt.

214

2

Lake County

208

3

Poudre

198

4

Middle Park

185

5

Summit

181

6

Aspen

159

7

Eagle Valley

148

8

Nederland

131

9

Clear Creek

102

10

Evergreen

97

Boys

Team Place

School

Points

1

Summit

222

2

Middle Park

196

3

Vail Mt.

187

4

Lake County

177

5

Poudre

173

6

Battle Mt.

166

7

Eagle Valley

141

8

Evergreen

130

9

CRMS

111

10

Aspen

100

11

Nederland

86

12

Clear Creek

78

13

Steamboat

0

Boys top 30

Place/ First name/ Last name/ School / Time / Points

1

Gray

Barker

MPHS

14:57.0

60

2

Jace

Peters

LCHS

15:00.0

59

3

Evan

Morrison

EHS

15:40.0

58

4

James

Sowers*

SUM

15:54.0

57

5

Roan

Varble

SUM

15:55.0

56

6

Kai

Oppito

SUM

15:56.0

55

7

Carter

Niemkiewicz

SUM

16:01.0

54

8

Will

Brunner

VMS

16:01.1

53

9

Cyrus

Creasy

VMS

16:04.0

52

10

Campbell

Forkner

PSD

16:06.0

51

11

Dane

Jensen

MPHS

16:13.0

50

12

Mason

Cruz-Abrams

VMS

16:15.0

49

13

Ewan

Gallagher

MPHS

16:20.0

48

14

Kyle

Ross

BMHS

16:25.0

47

15

Trace

Fondy

PSD

16:28.0

46

16

Josiah

Horning

LCHS

16:34.0

45

17

Jaren

Peters

LCHS

16:36.0

44

18

Ethan

Barber

EVHS

16:41.0

43

19

Miles

Mckenzie

BMHS

16:47.0

42

20

Finn

Sullivan

BMHS

16:49.0

41

21

Brody

Henning

SUM

16:54.0

22

Tiernan

Pittz

CRMS

17:14.0

40

23

Shane

Griffith

PSD

17:18.0

39

24

Kadin

Starr

MPHS

17:21.0

38

25

Parker

Osborn

SUM

17:21.0

26

Cade

Shortridge

PSD

17:24.0

37

27

John

Mcabbe

BMHS

17:25.0

36

28

Kai

Skellion

EVHS

17:36.0

35

29

Eli

Grundberg

BMHS

17:36.0

30

Joshua

Shriver

SUM

17:38.0

Girls top 30

Place/ First name/ Last name/ School/ Time/  Points

1

Ella

Bullock

LCHS

17:38.0

60

2

Sylvia

Brower

MPHS

18:02.0

59

3

Lindsey

Whitton*

BMHS

18:24.0

58

4

Annika

Beighey

PSD

18:30.0

57

5

Emily

Doerfler

PSD

18:50.0

56

6

Brynna

Lenhard

LCHS

19:04.0

55

7

Kira

Hower

BMHS

19:16.0

54

8

Ella

Hagen

SUM

19:20.0

53

9

Addison

Beuche

BMHS

19:28.0

52

10

Michaela

Kenny

ASP

19:54.0

51

11

Presley

Smith*

BMHS

19:57.0

50

12

Annie

Kuhns

MPHS

19:59.0

49

13

Niamh

Nelson

SUM

20:01.0

48

14

Susie

Bullock*

LCHS

20:08.0

47

15

Indigo

Olsen

LCHS

20:09.0

46

16

Clara

Kirr*

LCHS

20:10.0

17

Aimee

Lenhard

LCHS

20:22.0

18

Molly

Reeder

BMHS

20:26.0

19

Violet

Hill

LCHS

20:27.0

20

Ellayna

Potter

PSD

20:32.0

45

21

Julia

Diaz

ASP

20:36.0

44

22

Gabrielle

Pellini

MPHS

20:42.0

43

23

Ava

Bergsten

EVHS

20:46.0

42

24

Liliane

Zygulski

SUM

20:47.0

41

25

Clara

Statkus

PSD

20:50.0

40

26

Bella

Williams

BMHS

20:54.0

27

Keira

King*

LCHS

21:03.0

28

Katherine

Williams

SUM

21:09.0

39

29

Emma

Bergsten

EVHS

21:24.0

38

30

Haley

Mckenzie

BMHS

21:45.0

Vail Christian boys and girls basketball gets a pair of wins

Vail Christian girls basketball rolled over Gold Creek 48-6 on Tuesday in Evergreen. Lily Greshko scored 16 points to lead the Saints, who also received scoring contributions from Siena Kassmel (3 points) Noelle Razee (six points), Steel McClinton (seven points) and Daisy Palacio (10 points). The Saints improved to 4-6 with a home game against Plateau Valley (6-4) scheduled for Saturday.

The Vail Christian boys won their sixth game in a row over Clear Creek, defeating the Golddiggers 60-34. Quinn Downey went 8-for-17 from the field for 20 points and Theo Moritz had a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds to move the Saints to 9-2 on the year. Plateau Valley (8-2) pays a visit on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in a matchup of two teams with undefeated 2A Western Slope League records.

Vail Mountain School led 39-34 over Meeker on Thursday, but the Cowboys outscored the Gore Rangers 19-9 in the fourth quarter to steal a road win in Vail. Meeker improved to 7-4 while Vail Mountain School fell to 5-6. The Gore Rangers travel to Lotus School of Excellence on Saturday for a non-league matchup.

Former Eagle Valley volleyball star Kenzie Shreeve to be inducted into University of Northern Colorado hall of fame on Jan. 28

A May 11, 2005 profile on then Eagle Valley senior Kenzie Shreeve inquired of the four-year varsity volleyball star, “OK, you’re 30: What have you done (college, job, kids etc.), where do you live and what do you do?” The answer: “Graduated from UNC, married with two kids and living somewhere warm.”

Shreeve was almost perfectly prescient. The 35-year-old married mother of two girls (who, to her credit, was in fact living in Arizona at 29 with her husband, James, but now lives in Eagle) left out one detail: a hall-of-fame-worthy career at the University of Northern Colorado. On Jan. 28, the 2009 Big Sky Conference tournament MVP will be inducted with her conference championship-winning teammates into the UNC hall of fame.

Karl Talcott, who hitched his wagon to the Kenzie train and coached the third of four Shreeve sisters from 2001-2004, said he knew, even then, he might someday get a sports reporter’s phone call for this story.

“I really did. When she’s leading the state in kills and aces as a sophomore, you know you’ve got a generational player, without question,” he said from St. Paul, where he now coaches elite junior athletes at Minnesota Select.

“I still get to be around that level of talent on occasion, and when I’m coaching young kids, I bring up those stories about people like Kenzie specifically a lot,” he continued.

“I’ll say, ‘I had this player who would do this,’ and it would be a story about where she started, how she got better and how she could take over a match.”

Dominant Devil

Shreeve grew up in an athletic-minded family of four girls. Though her parents didn’t play collegiate sports, they towed Jennifer, Mindy, Kenzie and Lauren to various softball games and community sports events at Eagle Town Park. The influence rubbed off.

“I played every sport,” Kenzie recalled.

“That’s kind of how I described myself growing up. I was known as the athlete. I knew at a young age that I wanted to play somewhere, I just wasn’t sure where.” All four girls played volleyball and basketball, and Kenzie also ran the 400 and 800-meters and did the high jump in track — a wide-ranging, demanding meet schedule betraying an aspect of her athletic prowess. She truly separated herself from her mountain-town peers when playing on the volleyball court, however, and proved to be at another level.

“I remember her being a player who made an immediate impact as a freshman,” Talcott said. The running joke was that she was the tallest defensive specialist during her first season, but by her sophomore year, she found stardom as an outside hitter.

“That’s where I really found a love for the game again,” Shreeve said of the position shift. “It was like a totally different world for me. From there, I really grew.” A dynamic and integral starter, the underclassmen would guide a strong senior core to the 2002 state tournament.

Kenzie Shreeve (8) spikes the ball past Glenwood’s Stacey Novak (15) and Leah Hinkey (11) during a win over the Demons during Shreeve’s senior season.
Kara K. Pearson/Vail Daily archives

“We could tell she was a talent and we built a lot of our offensive around her … and she delivered,” Talcott summarized, adding that Shreeve enabled him to flip the script when it came to choosing possession at the start of games.

“I think he saw more in me than anyone ever did. I’ll still say to this day, besides my college coach, he was the best coach I ever had,” Shreeve said of Talcott. “He found out how to really coach me. He knew that if he put the pressure all on me, I performed 10 times better. He just made me the athlete I was.”

The Devils graduated significant height before Shreeve’s senior year, when she was being recruited by more than 40 college programs. “She was bearing quite a load,” Talcott remembered, adding that Shreeve received 50% of the sets — from all corners of the court. Before her final prep contest, the Cortez coach remarked to Talcott after scouting Eagle Valley, “I don’t know how we’re going to stop her…she attacks from everywhere.”

No longer afforded the opportunity to unleash the beast mode in games, she now enjoys scratching her competitive itch by working with her niece, Zakia, a sophomore for Eagle Valley, whenever she can.

“I miss that part of my life,” Shreeve admitted.

Big Sky breakthroughs

Shreeve’s accomplishments at the University of Northern Colorado, which made the jump to Division I during her 2005 freshman season, are impressive. As a junior, she became the school’s first All-Big Sky Conference first-team selection. She ended her senior campaign as the Big Sky Conference tournament MVP and graduated as the school’s DI-era all-time leader in kills (she is still fourth with 1230), capping her resume off with UNC’s female athlete of the year award. Given her successes at Eagle Valley — and eventual NCAA honors — it might seem like a surprise to find out Shreeve almost never made it to her second collegiate season.

“It was a huge awakening for me,” Shreeve, who remembers feeling like a small fish in a big pond, said of her freshman year. “When you go to college, it’s basically like your job. And having to handle all of that, keeping up with school — that was hard my freshman year. And I almost quit.”

“She was shy and lacked confidence, but she had size, a big arm, a good support system at home and just enough grit to keep her going,” stated her UNC coach Lyndsey Oates, who remembers multiple moments where her inexperienced underclassman wanted to just give it all up.

“She battled injuries and managed the volleyball schedule with academics, but I am so proud of her for working through it. She is absolutely a success story. I tell her story almost every year to a young player who is in her shoes.”

Shreeve redshirted her second year. “That year, I was able to take the stress of the game off of me, but I was able to still practice with my teammates and make them better while I was getting better,” she said. “That year was definitely a growing year for me.”

Kenzie Shreeve spent 10 weeks in the 2011 winter playing club volleyball on the European circuit in Chur, Switzerland, an opportunity set up by her college coach, Lyndsey Oates.
Paul Dorweiler/Vail Daily archives

She suited up in 2007 and led the team in kills (365), attacks (1152), serve percentage (1.000), points(400.5) and points per game (3.51). On a team that finished fourth in the conference tournament, she was one of six Bears players to contest all of Northern Colorado’s 114 games. The accolades already mentioned poured in during 2008. Going into 2009, Shreeve poured every ounce into ensuring her final season would be magnificent.

“I put in so much extra work that year and then at the end, to have that be the biggest year for us and end the way it did….I think that’s just the biggest thing for me,” she answered when asked to name the element she’s most of proud of over the scope of her collegiate career.

“She really began to see her own potential before her senior year,” stated Oates, who put Shreeve through early-morning 3-on-1 drills before the fifth-year leader would lift weights alongside the men’s basketball team.

“She got more fit and played more aggressive. I told her she was capable of being the conference MVP.  By the end of that off-season I think she believed it and it became a reality at the Big Sky Tournament.”

The Bears took down Northern Arizona 3-1, Eastern Washington 3-2 and Portland State 3-1 to claim the school’s first conference tournament title. Shreeve had 28 kills in the four-match victory, including the game-winner — a story-book ending moment she said she occasionally still pulls up and watches.

“It’s just such an amazing feeling,” she reminisced.

Still, her fondest memories don’t involve awards or any specific play per se. What sticks out are the team trip to China, the karaoke team-bonding nights at Oates’ house or hay rides at the coaches’ parents place were more important. She can’t recall all the season win-loss records, but she still remembers how the team looked forward to their favorite restaurants during road trips.

“I think the biggest things are the friendships I made when I was there. I think that’s the best thing of the whole experience — the relationships you make,” Shreeve said.

The transcendent impact of thousands of sets and tens of thousands of practices, however, does live on.

“I would say always working together as a team was a huge thing,” Shreeve, now the infant/toddler coordinator for Eagle County Schools, answered when asked how sports shaped her.

“I’m the type of boss that if I have to make a big decision, I like to reach out and get their opinions before I make a rational decision. I like to see thoughts from everyone and I think that’s the biggest thing. Without certain parts of the game, I wouldn’t have been successful.”

Her legacy — at both schools — lives on as well.

“Her MVP picture is right outside my office and I look at it everyday,” Oates stated. “Stories like Kenzie are why I coach. I truly believe that working through the adversity in her college career changed the course of her life because she proved to herself that she could overcome anything.”

Prep notebook: Nordic and Alpine ski teams compete in Steamboat Springs, Husky hockey ties Summit and Saints boys basketball wins again

Hockey notes

Battle Mountain split its league weekend home contests. The Huskies played Summit to a 3-3 tie on Friday night at Dobson Arena, scoring two third period goals to knot things up before both teams were held scoreless in overtime.

The Huskies were led by Declan Kelly’s two goals. Nate Bishop also scored and Ethan Fronteras and Rutley Heinemann each had assists. Kaia Borski had 18 saves to hold things down for Battle Mountain (4-4-1) in the net.

On Saturday, Glenwood Springs scored two third-period goals to knock off the Huskies 4-1. It was the first loss for Battle Mountain, ranked sixth in the state in 4A in the latest CHSAANow.com poll, since Jan. 6.

Alpine ski notes

Three local skiers raced into the top-10 in the Colorado High School Ski League slalom race at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat springs on Thursday. Battle Mountain’s Ruthie DeMino and Keena Shikverg placed third and 10th overall, respectively, and Ava Crowley was seventh for Vail Mountain School. Aspen’s Stella Sherlock won with a two-run time of 1 minute, 25.64 seconds.

The Vail Mountain School Alpine ski team poses for a team picture after competing at Howelsen Hill last Thursday.
Tony Larese/Courtesy photo

“Up against the always tough Howelsen Hill slalom, senior Ava Crowley (coming off a podium finish last week) skied solid and fast,” head coach Tony Larese wrote in a post-race email. Larese was also impressed with the finishes of freshmen Andrea Payen (25th) and Zoe Larese(27th) as well as sophomore Nicole Cantele (29th). He also noted the excellent racing by senior Emily Law.

“In only her second slalom race ever, she skied great — into 44th place in a very stacked field of 70 racers,” Larese stated.

Steamboat Springs won the event with 172 points, followed by Aspen (167), Battle Mountain (158), Summit (151), Vail Mountain School (147) and Eagle Valley (132).

On the boys side Andrew Conley (sixth), Henry Regrut (eighth) and Maxwell Larsen (10th), all of Battle Mountain, were the top local finishers. Aspen won the meet with 172 points, followed by Steamboat Springs (167), Battle Mountain (159), Summit (156), Vail Mountain School (48) and Colorado Rocky Mountain School (47).

Area Alpine teams travel to Keystone next Friday for the fourth meet of the season, a giant slalom.

Wrestling notes

Battle Mountain wrestlers were in action at the Fight at the Fork tournament in North Fork on Saturday. Grady Devins placed fourth overall in the 106-pound weight class and Tyson Vasquez finished sixth in the 157-pound weight class.

Up next for the Huskies is a triangular in Steamboat Springs on Thursday.

Meanwhile Eagle Valley competed at the Northglenn Norse Varsity Invite on Saturday. Braiden Ward finished sixth at 120-pounds, Cole Good was fourth at 126-pounds, Liam Loff was fifth at 144-pounds and Alejandro Mendoza was fifth at 215-pounds. The Devils return to action on Tuesday for a triangular in Rifle.

Basketball notes

Quinn Downey drilled four 3-pointers and scored 27 points and Theo Moritz added 11 to lift Vail Christian to a 67-22 win over West Grand on Saturday. The Saints led 45-7 at halftime. Killian Rahe was the top scorer for West Grand with 12 points. The league win puts the Saints at 4-0 in the 1A/2A Western Slope and 8-2 overall; they’re at Clear Creek (5-5) on Tuesday.

The Lady Saints lost to the Mustangs on Saturday 45-35. Vail Christian had the game within four, 27-23 in the third quarter, but West Grand used an 11-2 run to pull away for good. The Saints dropped to 3-6 overall and 1-3 in the league.

Wake Youngblood takes the ball up the court during Saturday’s game against Fruita Monument.
Rex Keep/Courtesy photo

Fruita Monument paid a visit to Battle Mountain for girls and boys basketball games on Saturday. Both Wildcat teams entered with identical 10-3 records and proved worthy opponents. The girls dispatched the Huskies 52-8 and the boys rolled over the Huskies 73-25.

Eagle Valley also faced tough foes in Gypsum with Montrose paying a visit. The Red Hawks boys and girls both moved moved to 10-3 after defeating the Eagle Valley girls 57-36 and the Eagle Valley boys 70-54.

Isabella Zastrow drives to the hope against Fruita Monument on Saturday in Edwards.
Rex Keep/Courtesy photo
Kiki Hancock makes a move against a Fruita Monument player in Saturday’s game in Edwards.
Rex Keep/Courtesy photo
Whit Hyde goes up for a reverse layup against Fruita Monument on Saturday.
Rex Keep/Courtesy photo

Nordic ski notes

The Battle Mountain boys took the team win at the Colorado High School Ski League skate race in Steamboat Springs on Saturday. The Huskies were led by Kyle Ross in third, Miles Mckenzie in ninth, and skimeisters (competing in both Alpine and Nordic competitions throughout the year) Theo Krueger in 11th and Zach Lindall in 12th. Battle Mountain scored 210 points to gap Poudre (197), Middle Park (186), Steamboat (174) and Summit (170). Eagle Valley finished in sixth with 168 points and Vail Mountain School was eighth with 114.

Will Brunner finished fourth individually for the Gore Rangers and Ethan Barber cracked the top 10 for the Devils in the 5-kilometer freestyle event. Griffin Rillos took the individual win in 14 minutes, 34 seconds, well ahead of Gray Barker (14:49) of Middle Park.

“Pleased with the Battle Mountain boys results,” stated head coach Jeff Apps in a post-race email.

On the girls side, Battle Mountain came in second with 204 points, with Poudre (216.5) taking the win. Kira Hower’s seventh led the way for the Huskies, followed by defending skimeister state champion Lindsey Whitton in ninth, Bella Williams in 11th. and Presley Smith in 13th.

Eagle Valley placed fifth as Ava and Emma Bergsten placed 19th and 29th, respectively. Justine St. John rounded out the Devils scoring in 31st.

Summit’s Ella Hagen was the individual winner in 17 minutes, 36 seconds, 45-seconds ahead of Lake County’s Brynna Lenhard, who finished in second.

“Next week is the Maloit Park classic race,” Apps said. “It’s going to be a great race!”

Vail Christian boys basketball rolls over South Park 57-10

Coach Sheldon Kuhns has seen a lot of basketball games played on the Vail Christian court now bearing his name. One thing he can’t recall is holding a team to 10 points.

The Saints did just that on Thursday night, rolling over South Park 57-10. After jumping out to a 17-1 lead, the home team never looked back, moving to 7-2 with the win and moving into a tie for the top spot in the 2A/1A Western Slope standings at 3-0.

“We’re not young, but we definitely graduated a lot, and we are improving every game, especially on the defensive end,” Kuhns said. “Guys have really buckled down defensively, so it’s been fun to see.”

The lopsided score wasn’t the product of a full-court press and easy transition layups, though.

“We were just not letting them score and then executing on the offensive end,” said Kuhns who, in losing eight speedy seniors from last year’s team, reoriented the Saint’s defensive identity. Instead of feasting on opponents with the occasional full-court trap, the 2023 squad is more focused on fundamental, man-to-man half-court defense. Andre Skweir, who was injured last year but rushed back to play football this fall, has been a key catalyst in that regard.

“When he started basketball, he wasn’t moving great, but I would say the last two weeks, he’s started to look like a healthy Andre,” Kuhns said of Skweir, who had seven points and led the team in rebounds on Thursday.

“That’s really one of the things helping us out defensively.”

Jack Pryor has also filled in for the injured big man Philip Shchetinin, whom the Saints expect to return to the lineup soon.

“He’s playing really well defensively and rebounding the ball for us,” Kuhns said. “We’re definitely becoming more of a complete package on both ends of the floor.”

The growth for the squad has manifested itself in a balanced offensive attack, too. While leading scorer Quinn Downey, who entered the game averaging 23 points per game, still led the team with 14 against South Park, the Saints also received 11 from both Will Neumann and Theo Moritz.

“(Quinn) is our go-to-guy, but we’re becoming more balanced,” Kuhns said, acknowledging that both Neumann and Moritz have emerged as reliable No. 2 options on any given night.

Another highlight from Thursday: Kuhns wasn’t the only Vail Christian coaching legend in the building.

“It was good to have Doug Bruce back in the house,” Kuhns said of his former assistant and the Lady Saints coach for many years.

“He’s one of my coaching mentors for sure.”

Saints ready for key league games against Plateau Valley and Vail Mountain School

Kuhns said the team isn’t overlooking anyone on the schedule, meaning their next focuses will be West Grand (0-9) on Saturday and Clear Creek (4-5) on Thursday. As far as league play goes, however, two key games loom in the near future, starting with No. 10-ranked Plateau Valley.

“It’s a game at a time, but there’s no doubt coming up, the Plateau Valley game — they’re really good, playing really well,” the coach stated. “They’re big, physical and they have a couple of good guards to go along with that.”

Guard Ethan Morse is dropping 14.3 points per game and 6-foot-3 forward Jackson Bevan is averaging 11.7 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest for the Cowboys. A week after playing the Plateau Valley, the Saints have another critical test on Feb. 7 against Vail Mountain School (4-4 overall, 2-0 league).

“Vail Mountain is much better than their record suggests,” Kuhns stated. “I expect that to be a good game as well.”

Though his team sits just outside the top 10 of the CHSAANow.com coaches poll, Kuhns is pleased with where his squad sits in another metric: strength of schedule. Coming into the new year, the Saints’ opponents’ win percentage was over .700. Even after recent games against sub-.500 teams, Vail Christian is still seventh in the state in terms of schedule toughness (.580).

“So we feel like we’ve had a good schedule and we’ve been pretty battle-tested, too,” he said. “We’re happy with where we’re at so far and we’re definitely improving.”