Devils track wraps up record season
Eagle Valley track and field rewrote nine school records this season with exceptional speed, but Tuesday, it took a power screwdriver, a ladder and some strategy for the track stars to correct the record board.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve done in track,” said senior Chris Gamble, who won a state championship in the 300-meter hurdles Saturday in Pueblo. He was leaning on the top rungs of a ladder in Hot Stuff Gymnasium, poking a screw-hole in a plastic card. “Seriously, it’s hard.”
This coming from a member of a team that finished sixth in the state, second in the region and broke five school marks. The girls, led by state-record setter Kim Smith, set four of the fastest times themselves.
All in all, the balance of youth and experience is what gave this Eagle Valley team several distinctions. The place in regionals was a school best, as was the state placing. The nine school records, is a whole different level of success.
“I’ve been here five years,” coach Jeff Shroll said. “We’ve broken 12 records since then. Nine this year is, well, it just speaks for itself.”
For Gamble, his four years spent running track have netted him three state championships (in his junior year, he won both the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles), five school records as either an individual or on a relay team and an offer to run at Hastings College in Nebraska.
“The best moment,” he asked. “Probably, standing up there, getting our picture taken after the 4×200. We were all together.”
Gamble was referring to his school-record-setting 800 relay teammates in seniors Jay Miller, Wes Griffith and Mike Ray. They broke their own school record three times and, before an unfortunate injury to Miller at state, were headed towards a fourth.
This season, Gamble also broke the school record in the triple jump and both hurdle events. The boys 400-meter relay team (Ray, Miller, Griffith and senior Kyle Higgins) also got their mark on the wall.
The success has the athletic director, Dave Scott, noticing. He told the group before the changing of the record books:
“Track is one sport with a kind of haze over it,” he said. “People tell me “I don’t want to run. It’s hard.’ The success of your track teams mainly depends on the new group coming. You need to encourage the younger kids in junior high school to come out. The one thing that builds athletic programs is track.”
The boys 3200 relay (junior Everet Minett, junior Ethan Vroman, freshman Alex Gamble and freshman Dan Lewis) rewrote the books and, like Smith, are returning for another season.
For Smith, it’s two state championships and counting. The junior won the last two 800 titles and has school records in the 800 medley (Junior Laura Sandoval, senior Shelby Vernell and sophomore Katie Wick) and the mile. She broke the state record in the 800 this year by three seconds.
“My family’s excited,” she said.
And she is too, of course. She’s made a mark on a booming high school athletic program’s history. In fact, on a small section of the gymnasium, her name, as well as a dozen of her teammates, is written all over it.
Devils baseball nets five on all-league team
GYPSUM –Seniors Micah Bernhardt, Nolan Royle, T.J. Stanford, Tony Davis and junior Justin Wood were selected to the 3A Western Slope all-league team last week by the coaches.
Bernhardt and Royle were also named co-players of the year, while coach Robert Ellsworth was named manager of the year. Bernhardt won the award in 2000 as a sophomore as well. Stanford won the award last year.
The Devils won their seventh straight league championship and finished 15-5 on the season.
“When it comes down to it, it’s the talent of the players that gets us winning the league,” Ellsworth said. “This group was definitely a part of our success these past four years.”
Junior Jason Leninger and senior Jose Meza were selected as honorable mention all-league players.
Bernhardt batted .610 on the season, with 33 stolen bases and 32 runs scored. Royle batted .524 with four home runs, 11 doubles, 33 runs and 24 RBIs.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.