Fore: Fall high school sports start up
If you’re trying out for the Battle Mountain golf team and you hit into me today at the Eagle-Vail Golf Club, you won’t get into the paper … ever.
It’s a sign that high school sports are cranking up again when I’m playing Eagle-Vail, and I see the tryouts a few holes behind me. Here we go again. A twirl around the county as golf and Eagle Valley softball gets going, while other sports have optional, of course, workouts this week.
This is not a low-profile sport in these parts. Look out for the ladies of Battle Mountain. By the way, did the Huskies figure out who the coach is yet? Yes, welcome back, Rob Parish, and, more importantly, a belated, but very happy birthday to young master Riley Walker Parish, who turned 1 last month. (More congrats to mom, Kelli Parish.)
OK, Parish is the coach – finally – and he has a very strong returning crew of runners. To refresh your memories, Mandy Ortiz was 11th at state; Sydney Gaylord 32nd; Val Constien 40th and Jenai Denardo 57th. Samantha Katz was the only senior from last year’s state squad who graduated. Nicole Marengo and Bridgett Courtois were sophomores as Battle Mountain’s sixth and seventh runners at state last year.
The Huskies won regionals last year were fourth at state. If they’ve been running this summer as they should, this will be THE team to watch this fall. There’s a nice parallel to 2005 here, people, but Battle Mountain will have to earn it.
Do also watch the Eagle Valley boys. They qualified for state as a team for the first time last year, and that usually makes a squad all the more hungry.
Huskies soccer made the state quarterfinals for the third time in school history, putting that squad into elite company in the program’s history. Only two seniors started in last year’s Elite Eight game at evil Evergreen. (I’m sure Evergreen is actually a nice school. I’m just sick of seeing Battle Mountain’s seasons ending there.)
This would be a god time to note that the 4A Slope (for everything except football) has a new look. We welcome Summit into the fold and Rifle is back after a two-year absence, while Moffat County went down to 3A. (Please note the Bears are not a conference foe in volleyball.)
That means the Huskies play 14 of their 15 games within the conference. The Huskies and the usual suspects, Glenwood and Steamboat Springs, will contend for the title, but Battle Mountain needs to play to its own standards in order to win its third title in a row. If the Huskies don’t, it’s going to be a quick exit in late October.
And we hope that Christian Espinoza might just have finally earned the starting job in net. This is great story for anyone in high school sports. Espinoza is the goalie that Battle Mountain never wanted. Two years ago, he replaced Clint Hervert, who had played seemingly forever. Espinoza was between the pipes simply as a stopgap. Last year, he wasn’t meant to be the starter.
All Espinoza’s done is keep working – he’s turned into a magnificent goalie – and made it impossible for Battle Mountain coach David Cope to keep out of the lineup.
Last year, the world spun off its axis as Battle Mountain was tremendous, while Eagle Valley struggled. This year, we regain some normalcy.
The Huskies are in rebuilding mode, and, after four wins in three seasons, Eagle Valley gets off the mat this year. It’ll be hard to get into the ranks of the likes of Rifle and Palisade, but it should be great (at least good) to be a Devil again.
And, if you’re wondering, it’s Eagle Valley at Battle Mountain Oct. 19 in Week 8, though both teams play in Zero Week.
And we haven’t forgotten you, Vail Christian … Gents, there’s been a lot of talk about the Class of 2013 and its potential. Time to show it. The good news is that the crossover is no longer against the SEC, aka the Plains Conference.
All of the state starters are gone from Eagle Valley’s 2010 team. Reports of the Devils’ demise will likely be premature. Coach Shawn Weatherred has built a program in Gypsum. Watch for some new faces to emerge.
At Battle Mountain, the question is, “Did you learn from last year?” The Huskies were young in 2011 and it showed. A lighter nonconference slate should help.
The mystery team might be Vail Mountain. If the Gore Rangers can stay healthy – and they’re due for a healthy year – they might be a sleeper in the 2A Slope.
Don’t forget the “small” schools. Vail Christian has some depth with Cooper Gould, Parker Poage and Robby Bowles. And I hear Vail Mountain’s Harrison Alonzo may have gotten in a few rounds this summer.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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