A primer for spring sports: Where the teams were back in 2019
You remember spring sports?
‘Tis starting to seem like the longest year ever when it comes to preps.
It’s not just you (or me).
The first full week of May, which will be next week, is traditionally the final week of the spring sports regular season, you know, the week when all the snowed-out contests from early spring are rescheduled in a preps soccer/lacrosse/baseball marathon.
In track and field normally, weekend after next would be the league meet, followed by last-chance qualifying and the state meet roughly May 20-22. We’d have girls’ golf’s state meet a day or two after track and happy summer vacation, which sports writers enjoy as much as students and teachers.
Keeping all this in mind, Battle Mountain baseball opens the season on Saturday against a school called Eagle Valley in Edwards. (Saturday’s forecast is 72 degrees. What. The. Fudge. Huskies baseball requires 3 feet of snow. That’s a rule.)
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Yep, it’s almost May 1, and we have another season to go. Keep in mind we are not complaining. We are happy you are all back, so that I am gainfully employed.
But seeing as I feel that cross-country season last fall really feels like it was contested in 2015, we really need a refresher on previous episodes of Season D, or spring sports. Remember for all the jimmy-jacking and assorted rescheduling our local sports teams have received to date this school year, track and field, lacrosse, baseball, girls’ soccer and girls golf never played in 2020.
COVID-19 messed with these sports the most. Spring practice had begun. Vail Christian and Vail Mountain soccer were meant to do the honors with their opener and everything stopped.
So, mostly as an exercise to reacquaint the sports writer with spring sports back in 2019 — though we’re pretty sure our readers will benefit from this — we return to a land and a time where no one cared about facemasks unless we were talking football.
Track and field
The Battle Mountain girls’ 3,200-meter relay team is the three-time defending state champion. Yes, remember sophomore Elliot Pribramsky, and seniors Grace Johnson, Lizzy and Naomi Harding going back to back to back?
By the way, the second-place team was Eagle Valley (Joslin and Samantha Blair, Avery Doan and Jewel Scrivens.)
Just a few other highlights from the 2019 state meet were Lizzy and Naomi going 1-2 in the 1,600. Then-freshman Samantha Blair was medaling in her first state meet. Don’t forget Vail Christian. E.J. Koller, Kellen Kinsella, Luke Bowers, and Quinn Mitchell were tops in the 2A 800 relay.
Obviously, all three schools will be finding new names to replace the dearly graduated, but you know the drill. Battle Mountain will be terrific in the longer distances (800 meters and up). Eagle Valley has Samantha Blair, now a junior. She’s going to be scary in a good way and the Devils are usually pretty solid fielding athletes everywhere.
Vail Christian will be seemingly average until the Saints shift from the regular season, when they compete against bigger schools, to the postseason, when they face schools their own size, and start making noise.
Not that anyone is counting, but Battle Mountain’s girls are the defending Slope champs, while Glenwood Springs is attempting to hold its boys’ title.
For the gents, perhaps a shift in the rivalry between Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley was occurring. Eagle Valley beat Battle Mountain in the first match-up between the two schools in 2009. The Devils didn’t win vs. the Huskies again until March 21, 2019.
The Devils and Huskies split their two meetings, Battle Mountain fished second and Eagle Valley third behind Steamboat Springs in the Mountain Conference. Both local teams also made the playoffs, a rarity.
Is Eagle Valley on the same level as Battle Mountain? (We think so.) Can the Huskies, Devils or Gore Rangers challenge Steamboat in the league? (We hope so and we don’t care who it is.)
In girls’ lacrosse, the big news is a 4A classification. Previously, all the girls played in one division, regardless of school size. Although the 2019 Battle Mountain girls (9-7) did qualify for the postseason with one division, actually advancing in the postseason for the local schools was daunting under the old format.
The Huskies and Devils will play in the Mountain East Conference with Aspen, Roaring Fork (a full varsity program now), Steamboat and Summit.
Again, the opener is on May 1. This should mean, in theory, actual baseball weather — maybe — in the High Country. If there is an upside to COVID, it’s that both Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain have had club teams playing already this spring.
Will this different season help the Devils and Huskies? Yes, but it should also help everyone else they’ve played. Nonetheless, this is still more reps than the average Eagle County high school baseball team has ever seen going into a varsity season.
The Devils were 13-7 in 2019 and made the first round of the playoffs before losing to Centaurus. The Huskies were much improved with a 10-13 record.
We could have sworn that soccer season just ended, but here we are again. Battle Mountain won the Slope back in 2019, and, much like their male counterparts, the Huskies hope to repeat and make the playoffs. Battle Mountain’s lost a ton of talent, but this program tends to reload on the fly.
And much like the boys, Andy Wheeler takes the helm down in Gypsum with an eager crew that needs some coaching stability and game experience.Can we expect a revival much like the Devils boys? We’re not saying anything until we see these teams, but we wouldn’t rule out the possibility.
We will also be curious to watch “small school“ soccer. Vail Mountain generally stumbles through the regular season with a slightly over .500 record. At some point, the Gore Rangers get all their athletes from Ski & Snowboard Club Vail and take off in the playoffs.
VMS, which opts to play at 3A for playoffs, usually by the time it gets everyone together is a pretty good team. The Gore Rangers have made the Elite Eight in 2018 and 2019 and were 2A state champs back in 2015 and 2016. With the season starting in May, well after snowsports are mostly finished, will VMS have the whole gang togeter for most of the season? You are warned.
Meanwhile, Vail Christian soccer went 6-5 back in 2019, a major uptick for a program that has struggled historically. The Saints just missed the playoffs back in 2019, and should be in the hunt in 2021.