The best of local sports in 2006, Part I |

The best of local sports in 2006, Part I

Chris FreudVail CO, Colorado

Best sporting moment of 2006? No question. Leon Fell and I win a horse-race golf tournament at Cotton Ranch in June. I sank at 10-foot, er, 25-foot, er, 60-foot putt, for birdie.Make that a 5-wood form 230 yards out.Seriously “Freud” and “winning a golf tournament” should never go together in a sentence, so it should make our top-10 list. But in the interests of impartiality, we’ll list that as No. 11.In the meantime, 2006 was yet another big one in the local sports world. On the snow, the mats the courts and around the world, there’s a lot to remember from the last 365 days.

So from the home office in Eagle-Vail (the golf course that is – where do you think your sports editor spent his summer?), we give you the best of 2006: 10. The year began with the Winter X Games at Aspen, and the locals represented well. Chris Del Bosco was third at men’s skiercross. Clair Bidez fourth in superpipe, signaling her continuing rise in the sport. (By the way does she have a brother? Kidding.) John Spriggs, an alum of the Vail Mountain School was sixth in men’s best trick, and Lindsey Telling took 10th in women’s boardercorss. ‘Twas very gnar-gnar.

9. Eagle Valley sent only four wrestlers to state, but that seemed to work out just fine. All four won state medals. Chris Harvey won it all at 160 pounds. In a rare display of emotion, Harvey celebrated with his coaches and family, which seems to have quite the penchant for the sport.Brendan Best was second at 171. After that championship loss, coach Ron Beard said, “Nobody in the state will touch him next year.” We don’t doubt it. Expect Best to be back at the Pepsi Center in February. Mason Ewing took bronze at 135, and Kylan Kottenstette was fifth at 152.In track and field, Eagle Valley kept steaming along. With the Gambles (Brad and Alex) off to college, the boys’ team still won regionals. And in what is becoming a fall ritual, Devils football retained county bragging rights, beating Battle Mountain, 35-16, at Phelan Field, despite my ill-fated prognostication.

8. Welcome to Denver, Vail Christian. The school’s volleyball team won its first championship, running undefeated through the 1A Mountain League this fall, and topped that by making the state tournament for the first time in school history. With Vail Mountain moving out of the Mountain League, the Saints figured to be the favorite. It didn’t matter where VMS played. Vail Christian beat the Gore Rangers in their annual rivalry game. (I won’t explain “Bob Isbell’s Seating Chart for Victory” because it’s too complicated.) The Saints kept winning and delivered a dramatic comeback from 2-0 against La Veta at regionals. The team’s lone senior, Jackie Parker, went flying into the bench in that match after a lose ball and injured her leg. She played through the pain and provided inspirational leadership.Vail Christian found itself in the odd position of having to root for North Park, the team’s nemesis in the postseason, to beat La Veta to send the Saints to state, and the Wildcats delivered.

On the floor of the Coliseum, the Saints didn’t act like newcomers to the state stage. Vail Christian ended up taking a game from the eventual 1A state champ, Kit Carson, and was alive until Saturday morning in pool play. Coach Cathy Alexander and company have set the stage for future success.7. Is there anything Mike Kloser and company can’t do? We don’t think so.The Eco-Challenge is a thing of the past, but in 2006, there was the Primal Quest Utah, so why not? Kloser, a four-tme Eco-Challenge champ, picked up his third Primal Quest title with Monique Merrill, Ian Adamson and Michael Tobin.

They crossed deserts and cliffs, survived lightning storms and did just about everything unthinkable in a span of just less than six days.Just three week later, Nike in the form of Kloser, Dan Weiland, Jay Henry and Sari Anderson defended their Adventure Xtreme title in Summit County. Oh by the way, in September, Kloser, Anderson, Tobin and Richard Uscher picked up the Raid World Championship in Canada.And minus Tobin, those three won the Adventure Sprint Championships at the Teva Mountain Games in June in Vail.The Race Across America – a team-cycling relay race from San Diego, Calif., to Atlantic City, N.J. – again had a distinct Vail touch. Zach Bingham, Jimi Mortenson, Mike Janelle and Nat Ross won the four-man division. The Border to Border Divas of Linda Guerrette, Tristen Grant, Kim Fields and Deb Decrausaz won the women’s race.

And since he wasn’t busy enough with other endurance racing, Henry picked up the Ultra 100 title in August.Haven’t you people heard of golf?6. Something very strange happened in Eagle-Vail last winter. Battle Mountain became a basketball school of all things. Usually an afterthought after hockey and skiing, boys’ basketball became the place to be, and the Huskies were a sight to see.

Battle Mountain went 22-3 and won the first boys’ league title in the 40-plus-year history of the school. Connor Drumm (Slope Player of the Year) and Trent Beckley were the twin towers inside. T.J. Montoya, Josh Ruark, Kyle Leffler and Derek Rush among other provided the balance outside and coach Philip Tronsrue (Slope Coach of the Year) directed the show. Battle Mountain raced into the Sweet 16 for the first time as the whiteout hit a fever pitch.Also during the winter of 2006, Huskies hockey repeated as Metro Conference champs and made the Frozen Four for the sixth time in as many years. Vail Mountain’s Chris Woods wrestled the Skiemeister Award, given to the best all-around skier in the high school ranks, away from Battle Mountain.And by the way, Battle Mountain soccer made it three 4A Slope titles in a row in the fall. After graduating nine starters from 2005’s team, this year’s edition made it to the state quarters for the second year in a row by winning the program’s first state playoff game on the road at Conifer. Erik Garcia was the league’s Player of the Year, while David Cope took home Coach of the Year for the third straight fall.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or

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