Vail Valley preps: Ladies ruled the roost in 2018-19
Hardings, Blairs, Teague and Krueger
In 2018-19 in high school, the ladies, regardless of season, dominated the headlines, be it cross-country, volleyball, basketball, skiing, track and field or soccer.
Consider this: In most years, Battle Mountain’s Claire Krueger would have won the Senior Athlete Award at her school. She’s eminently qualified, having played four years of varsity basketball, leading the Huskies to an improbable league title, the first for the ladies since 1993.
Krueger was also the Co-Western Slope Player of the Year in soccer, spearheading an air-tight defense that allowed just two goals in 12 league games.
Her teammate in both sports, Audrey Teague had a great year. She had league titles in basketball and also in soccer. In the spring, she put up 23 goals, more than she had in 2018 when she also won a share of the Western Slope Player of the year.
The duo were both out of the running.
The Huskies athletic department had to figure out which Harding sister — Lizzy or Naomi — deserved the award. Both are fast on trails, snow or a track. Naomi won by a hair. Personally, I would have cut the “B” in half and split it between the two sisters.
And this was all just happening in Edwards. Vail Mountain School volleyball made the state tournament for the first time since 2005. VMS soccer roared to the quarterfinals in the spring. VMS golf qualified for state.
Front and center
And in Gypsum, the Blair sisters, Joslin and Samantha continue to rampage. To the dismay of the rest of the Western Slope, both return next year. Yikes.
Too often, girls sports play a backseat to their male counterparts. Let’s be honest, when Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley play basketball, the house is full for the gents with the girls game being the undercard.
With some notable exceptions, expectations just aren’t as high for girls sports as they are for the boys. If a girls team has a losing season, the commentary is “Oh well, they tried hard.”
The notable exceptions have been Battle Mountain running (eight regional titles in a row and two titles and two second-place finishes in the last four years in cross-country and five league titles running in track and field) and Battle Mountain soccer, where a league title is almost expected.
Now Huskies running has competition from Eagle Valley, This is so rare, people. Anything between the Huskies and Devils is a big thing, an event. But rarely does anything Eagle Valley-Battle Mountain mean something outside of Eagle County.
Think about it. The last time a Battle Mountain-Eagle Valley game had playoff implications for both teams was 1985. In boys soccer, 2008 and 2009 were the only years the schools went head-to-head.
In cross-country, Battle Mountain’s Naomi Harding won the regional title in 2018. She turned her title over to Eagle Valley’s Joslin Blair in 2019. With Joslin and Samantha Blair and Avery Doan, the Huskies and Devils both sent teams to state in cross-country.
In the spring, the 1,600 meters at the state has become an Eagle County thing. Joslin Blair won the mile in 2018. Lizzy Naomi Harding went 1-2 this spring.
Also at state Battle Mountain, three-peated in the 4-by-8. Elliot Pribramsky, Grace Johnson and the Harding finished ahead of … Eagle Valley’s Jewel Scrivens, Doan, and the Blairs. Yep, Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley’s girls topped the state.
The Hardings have really done everything a person can do — team titles both state and league, individual titles. Heck, they and Grace Johnson put on skis for Nordic and led Battle Mountain to a state title during the winter. How crazy is that?
I think, though, I’m more excited to see what’s to come. As noted, the Blairs return. FYI, Samantha, not Joslin, holds the school’s cross-country record as a freshman, even though she’s probably more of sprinting specialist. (Telling either one of the Blairs what they can’t do is probably a bad idea.)
What do they do next year? Can Eagle Valley find a few more in cross-country and challenge the Huskies’ octo-peat in the fall? How do Johnson and Pribramsky step up into the Nos. 1 and 1a roles. More importantly, who fills in the ranks from Battle Mountain’s seemingly endless pipeline of female running? Is it, in fact, endless?
As much as Teague and Krueger have given to basketball and soccer at Battle Mountain — a lot — who steps up? The answers could be Gabby Caballero (basketball and soccer) and Alden Pennington (basketball and running).
The Class of 2019 ladies’ legacy is not only winning — a ton — but also setting a foundation for the future. We’ll see you in August.