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Huskies double their pleasure

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EAGLE-VAIL – Connor Drumm called it on Nov. 1 last year down in District 20 Stadium in Colorado Springs.A fullback on the Battle Mountain boys’ soccer team which had just been eliminated in the state quarterfinals, he said of the upcoming basketball season, “Something special’s going to happen.”Something special has happened in both the fall and the winter for Battle Mountain. In an athletic year of unprecedented success for the school, Battle Mountain boys’ soccer defended its 4A Slope title. Three months later, Huskies boys’ basketball won its first league championship.Drumm, Josh Ruark, Gustavo Bronfield and D.J. Van Curan have been on the thrill ride with both teams, making them a rare breed of Husky – double Western Slope winners in a single school year.”It’s amazing. I don’t think there’s one word I could use to describe how it feels,” Bronfield said. “It’s really amazing because in both sports that both championships were fought with Glenwood. I’m really glad that we did it because we did it as a team in both.”Between soccer and basketball, this quartet is 36-5, going into Saturday’s Round 2 state-playoff hoops game against either Montrose or Steamboat Springs.Winning is contagiousAs Battle Mountain fall sports happily discovered last season, winning is contagious.By the time the dust settled in November, four teams had their best seasons ever. The girls’ cross-country team won state, while their male counterparts were regional champions. The spikers made the state semifinals, and the soccer team was in the Elite Eight.Just those teams fed off each other, the winning attitude seems to have transferred with the season.”Winners are winners,” Huskies soccer coach David Cope said. “The first (girls’) soccer practice (Tuesday), I had (cross-country runner) Erika Ghent address the team in terms of what it’s like to play for a state championship team, and what does that entail as far as teamwork, training and everything. I think people who win win.”

“It’s a great positive for athletes going on from season to season,” Huskies boys’ basketball coach Phil Tronsrue said. “When you’re successful in the fall in whatever you’re doing, to go in a basketball season, that carries with you. That just brings a good mentality that programs need.”College scouts come talk to me about players. They want kids coming from successful programs because that breeds success, and that’s no different for us.”Different roles and pathsThis quartet has come to this point in time in various ways and by different paths. Drumm is the basketball natural who picked up soccer as his “second sport,” and became a star. Ruark, a goalie, and Bronfield, a striker, are more identified with soccer. Van Curan, the only one not graduating this spring, has played a supporting role in both sports this year, and will be expected to take the mantle next year.Drumm and Ruark have a unique connection in that they worked together in the back in soccer as a fullback and netminder, and now are the power forward and point guard, respectively.”It’s trust in one another and that leads into other teammates,” Drumm said. “We work together so much during soccer season that it translates into basketball season.”Cope, in his hat as a basketball fan, sees similar characteristics in his soccer charges on the court. “Some of the traits that are continuous are Connor’s poise,” he said. “He doesn’t get rattled. He’s so well balanced all the times. Josh’s competitiveness comes through as point guard and a keeper. He’s constantly going to the floor, battling, and doing all the nitty gritty things.” Tronsrue admits to being a bit worried three years ago when he saw Drumm playing soccer. After all, 6-foot-4 freshman don’t drop into your lap every day, and the last thing you want is your phenom doing is rolling an ankle.”I can remember when he was a freshman and a sophomore, thinking, “Connor, please, please, please,'” Tronsrue said. “Now this year, I was able to enjoy him play and to see how successful he is out there and see how he commands the game out there. This year, I didn’t think about an injury. I just enjoyed watching him play.”

Goose and D.J.The transition from soccer to basketball hasn’t been an easy one for Bronfield, aka Goose. In the fall, his starting spot was all but guaranteed. He was all-league and ended up second on the team with 12 goals.Come basketball season, Bronfield found himself on the bench as a role player. “Now, I’m used to it, but at the beginning, it was really hard,” he said. “It really doesn’t bother me anymore.”Working with both Cope and Tronsrue had helped on this count. The latter was quick to note that Bronfield has done well making the basketball team better every day in practice, and when the time comes to hit the court, he’s made an impact.”He’s the backup, and that hasn’t been easy for him,” Cope said. “We talked about how in the fall there were guys backing (him) up. That’s something about sports that in the long run helps us as people.”Van Curan knows the backup role well. He was behind Ruark on the depth chart in goal in the fall, and has split time between junior varsity and varsity during basketball season.His time is coming, however. Come fall, odds are good that Van Curan will be the starting goalie for the soccer team. Basketball graduates nine seniors this spring, leaving Van Curan as one of three players with varsity experience for next season. “He’ll be a senior next year,” Tronsrue said. “We hope to see him step into a situation like Josh, to be able to play soccer and come in on the court and play from the get-go. He’s been working hard to hone his basketball skills a little bit more.”Van Curan, though, has already been thrown into the fire. Last fall, Ruark got a red card in the final game of the regular season, leaving Van Curan to start in Round 1 of the playoffs. Though he admits it “wasn’t my best game ever,” his understudy role has provided him with a road map for future success.”I think it’s really helpful to see what a good functioning team is, how to play right, what to do,” he said. “These guys not only made it easier to see what I need to do for next year team-wise, but give me the confidence that that’s what needs to be done.”Playoff time



Having played soccer, this quartet knows the highs and lows of the playoffs. Battle Mountain soccer has been to the state playoffs at the 4A level every year since 2000. All four have been a part of the program’s rise, and have experienced the sheer joy of winning in the postseason and the despair of losing.”I think it helps with the experience because we know what we’re up against,” Ruark said. “We know that there are some other good teams out there, but nothing that we can’t hand. That’ll help us a lot in a big game situations.”Then, there’s Drumm. The night he said, “Something special’s going to happen,” he was just coming off a 3-1 season-ending loss to Pine Creek.”I remember losing that game and thinking that was it for soccer season,” Drumm said. “I don’t want that same feeling for basketball. After that, you realize that’s it. It’s over. You’ve got to use that past experience to move you on today.”Soccer or basketballSo what’s sweeter? Winning a soccer league title or basketball? Thoughts from the quartet:Bronfield: “It’s hard to tell. Soccer’s my sport, so that’s probably what I would say. But I thought both were exciting.Drumm: “I’ve got to say basketball, first in school history, first for me. Basketball’s my sport.” Ruark: “That’s tough. I’ll say soccer just because we were able to defend our league title from the previous year and go undefeated in league.”Van Curan: “Probably the first soccer (in 2004) and the basketball titles were the same. We were winning them at home. We were barely edging out the other team to get it Next year will be the most exciting when we do win (soccer) again, hopefully.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14630 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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