Ladies and gentlemen, it’s almost spring
Spring high school sports start today, and surprisingly, 3 feet of snow is not in the forecast … for now.
As we all know, spring in Eagle County doesn’t really come until May, when it’s time for everyone to graduate and for your sports editor to immerse himself in golf. (Did the sports editor say that out loud? Whoops.)
That doesn’t stop the Devils, Huskies, Gore Rangers and Saints from having exciting prospects for the upcoming season.
Assorted lacrosse, soccer and track and field teams should have great seasons. And then there are always the surprise squads. As examples; for winter, Eagle Valley wrestling went off the charts, sending seven to state. I didn’t see that coming. In the fall, I had a feeling Devils volleyball might be fun, but the Denver Coliseum? Not happening. Same for Huskies soccer. Of course, they were going to be good, but the state final? Also not happening.
I’m always glad to be wrong.
And that’s a way of saying this is not a definitive spring preview, here’s a few thoughts as we start.
The two-time defending 2A state champions are moving to 3A. I wrote this last year. I will write this again. Tap the brakes. This team will grow as the season progresses. (Yeah, I wrote that last year as well.) As always, the Gore Rangers will add players as the season goes on. I like how the schedule builds.
April 27: VMS at Mullen. Hello, ladies, you’re playing the 4A state runner-up.
April 29: Battle Mountain at VMS. That should be cool.
Focus on your synergy. Find a new Hemingway quote. Simply play soccer and let’s see where everything is in early May.
As a side note, how much of my postgame with coach Bob Bandoni will involve him voicing displeasure with the president? If I told you, I’d have to kill you. (Or Bob would kill me.)
Battle Mountain soccer
Welcome to life without Cope. No, he’s still here, but Emily Quinn Cope is obviously at Southern Methodist University. Pony up!
Oh, we’re hearing the rumbles. “Battle Mountain soccer may be down this year.” Steamboat Springs is the defending champion of the 4A Slope until someone proves otherwise. The Sailors have earned that.
Yet this is not coach David Cope’s first rodeo, people. Youth springs out of this program by tradition. It’s their turn to take the torch, a riff on President John Kennedy’s inaugural address, since Cope is a history teacher and likes quotes on team T-shirts. Don’t write this team off yet.
Eagle Valley and Vail Christian soccer
Two teams in a very similar state of building. The Devils are in year No. 2 with coach Maggie Sherman. Numbers are up — maxpreps.com has 32 kids on the roster, wow. That’s a step.
Another step is working toward being competitive with the top of the conference — Steamboat and some combination of Palisade and Battle Mountain. Teams are going to be in trouble if they take Eagle Valley lightly.
Vail Christian needs good weather and health. The Saints are playing a full 15-game schedule, which is a step. Please snow on non-game days. As for the health issue, we’re not even going to say about whom we are speaking, so as not to incur the wrath of fate. You all know. No need to go into it again. I knock on wood as I type.
It says here that we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Saints in the 2A playoffs again.
Track and field
Start arranging the puzzle pieces. Cross-country season tells us that both Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley are good to go in long-distance events. How will Rob Parish (Battle Mountain) and Jeff Shroll (Eagle Valley) tinker?
While these two are sorting through their respective thundering herds — usually the Huskies and Devils have 100 or so each out for track, we’ll say watch out for Eagle Valley’s Charise Crabb and Joslin Blair. As for Battle Mountain, we’ve got Hardings (Naomi and Lizzie), not mention Alex Raichart and Liz Constein, to name a few.
Yes, the rating-percentage index is coming to lacrosse, so every team in the state is trying to beef up its schedule. Except for Battle Mountain. The Huskies played 15 games last season and nine of those games were against playoff teams.
This is not to say that the Huskies play a cupcake schedule — they don’t. It’s a way of saying that Battle Mountain was a young team last year that took its lumps to the tune of a 7-9 record. (The Huskies did make the playoffs, but their hypothetical RPI last spring would have been silly.)
If the Huskies have grown physically and mentally from last season, then this spring could be fun.
VMS made the playoffs for the first time in school history. Congratulations. (I mean that.) Now, do it again. (I mean that, too.) Seriously, it’s great to be the first, but the next step is proving it wasn’t a fluke.
Like the Huskies, the Gore Rangers have a lot of returning players. I admit that I’m not a lacrosse guy — I don’t know the sport like I know baseball — but having Tyler Hancock back is a really good thing. Then there’s Luke Verratti, who I think has been in high school for six years. (Not casting aspersions, but I feel like I’ve been writing his name forever.)
By the way, Battle Mountain visits Vail Mountain on Saturday. Just saying.
Very much like VMS lacrosse, it’s time for Battle Mountain girls lax to back it up. The Huskies made the playoffs last year, a huge step. This year’s theme is: “Once more, with feeling.”
Yes, this is life without goalie Siena Miller, and that’s a test. With a new coach, Jason Fitzgerald, this a new start, ladies.
The greatest game ever invented.
And, while the Giants open against the Diamondbacks … stop that, Freud. Eagle Valley opens at Cedaredge this weekend. Fun fact: The Devils return pretty much everyone on the mound.
Pitching wins, people. Look at the Cubs, Red Sox, Royals, Cardinals and a certain team that wears orange and black. Every World Series winning team of this decade has had pitching.
With a lot of arms returning, throw strikes, stay under pitch count and play defense behind these guys, Eagle Valley. I’m a Giants fan. We don’t score runs, but feel free, Devils.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
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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.