Gore Rangers win regional title
GUNNISON – You know your team is good when upon winning a regional title, you feel relieved.That’s exactly how Vail Mountain coach Mike Garvey felt after the Gore Rangers won the regional championship Saturday.”It feels good, but like anything else this season, it’s a relief to know we met our expectations,” Garvey said. “We’ll enjoy the ride and make a run at (state).”The players’ reactions leaned more on the side of excitement.”It’s beyond explanation,” Lindsay Wright said. “I’m so pumped.”With their first regional title since 2002, the No. 2-seeded Gore Rangers exit regionals as the top seed. Again, a feeling of relief.”Everyone was gunning for us, so I’m relieved we came out on top,” Wright said.As much as La Veta, Dove Creek and Mountain Valley wanted to take down Vail Mountain, the Gore Rangers had no intention of letting them.
“La Veta thought we were going to lay down, but we didn’t,” said Cely Brinkmann.Dove Creek, after losing to Vail Mountain in districts, had its sights set on the Gore Rangers.”Between their crowd, and how they responded, they were definitely out to get us,” said Aubrie Apple. “Luckily, we stood our ground.”By the time the Gore Rangers were set to play their final match of the day against Mountain Valley, they had already advanced to state as the No. 1 seed, as La Veta beat Mountain Valley.But, in classic Garvey fashion, he waited until the right moment to tell his team.”He’s crazy,” said Brinkmann “He told us in the huddle (before the Mountain Valley match), and I talked to my 9-year-old sister, and she said she knew a while before.”The Garvey magic seemed to work, however, as the Gore Rangers cruised through their final match, 25-9, 25-15, 25-10.
Early and oftenIn the first game of the day, the Gore Rangers rocked the La Veta Redskins 25-7, and then finished them off in four games, 25-21, 17-25, 25-13.”They weren’t as warmed up in the first game, but for the rest of the game, they matched up with us and competed,” Garvey said.Lara Green and Molly Etters had long serving runs that helped Vail Mountain gain comfortable leads. Apple and Wright had solid attacks, while Della Elich played well all match.”La Veta had a lot of talented hitters and setters,” said Miranda Farley. “I just think they weren’t on their game. They could have potentially been a big threat.”After the win, the Gore Rangers took a rest they would very much need for the next match against Dove Creek.Vail Mountain beat Dove Creek 34-32, 21-25, 25-10, 25-17.”You look at the match after the first game, and say, whoever wins that will win the match,” Garvey said.In what was Garvey’s longest game of his career, both teams missed serves, twisting the momentum back and forth.
“I didn’t think it was possible to play a game that long, and luckily, we pulled out on top,” Wright said.The Gore Rangers seemed to be worn out by the first game, as they came out lethargically in the second game.”We went to the bench, and the kids played well,” Garvey said. “We came back and got some momentum for the third and fourth games.”Farley and Elich helped secure the win for Vail Mountain.”Mentally, they were able to keep everyone else in the game,” Garvey said. “They were definitely the difference in the match.”In the final match, Garvey seized the opportunity to put in some of his younger players. Kelsey Ferguson, Elsie Macsata, Janelle Kibler-Silengo and Stephanie Miletich contributed to the win, keeping the Gore Rangers perfect in the postseason thus far.Second time around
For the seniors, this was their second regional championship. This time, however, they feel it’s a little more special.”This year, it’s like 10,000 times sweeter,” said Apple. “Everyone was so ready and anxious to get on the floor (this weekend).”And with the way the Gore Rangers have been playing, they like their chances at state.”We’ve been clicking really well,” Farley said. “We step up our play to whatever the competition is.””There are a lot of factors that are gong to contribute to us going into state prepared,” Brinkmann said. “We have girls that are prepared to play, and we are more of a team than when I was a freshman.”So as long as Vail Mountain avoids sickness, it should be ready to play in the Coliseum.”We’ll just have to not go to school this week,” Brinkmann joked.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado