The races are just beginning, kids |

The races are just beginning, kids

Chris Freud

Tuesday night, I spent a lot of time Web-surfing.

When was the last time Eagle Valley beat Battle Mountain in volleyball? When was the last time Battle Mountain soccer lost to Glenwood Springs?

This took a while on everybody’s favorite Web site, ” sorry, obligatory plug.

Oct. 19, 2004 and Oct. 3, 2002, respectively.

These dates of note mean a lot in many ways.

First and foremost, brava to Devils volleyball. Yes, I am seen as Battle Mountain boy, and some downvalley think I’m an alum of the school. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again ” I went to University High School, and we were the Red Devils, so I am allowed to say, “Ain’t it great to be a Devil.”

Anyone who is a sports fan had to love Tuesday’s volleyball game. It was great game between two rivals in front of loud fans with momentum shifts and intense emotion. With the exception of those who bleed black and gold, what’s not to like?

And just milling around the Eagle Valley bench after the game, you had to be thrilled for the Devils to get one back from Battle Mountain after three years of being on the wrong end of tough defeats.

By the way, I hope that Scott Foster took his daughter Kelsey out for some major Italian food and Whitney Wright got her fill of Breyers mint chocolate chip ice cream and every other member of the team celebrated in their own way.

Moments like these are why student-athletes compete, and also why I love my job.

Tuesday’s volleyball game as well as Huskies soccer’s loss at Glenwood Springs are also a signpost about how things have changed in the last decade on the local sporting scene and a portent of things to come.

Paradigm shift

There are two reasons I think that I’m not going to be elected the mayor of Gypsum anytime soon. First, I’m in my 12th years of covering Battle Mountain sports, so naturally, everyone associates me with Huskies-dom.

The other reason is that the balance of power between the Huskies and Devils has shifted in the last five years. When I started at the paper in 1997, both schools were in the 3A Slope in most sports, and by and large, the Devils were the team to beat. However when both schools moved up to 4A, the Huskies started on a rampage of titles, especially in the fall sports, and naturally since teams that win get more headlines, the perception of the Daily is that “we like Battle Mountain more.”

While I explain this to defend myself a bit, there is also a rather startling truth in it. No one likes it when one team dominates a league for a long time. If it’s your team, it’s darn cool ” see the San Francisco 49ers from 1981-1997. (I was shocked when I went to college in 1990 and found out that there were people who hated the Niners. What wasn’t there to love?)

Enter Battle Mountain volleyball and soccer. From 2005-2007, Huskies volleyball went 78-12 overall and 40-2 in league play, winning three Slope titles and a state crown. Boys soccer? The Huskies are a stunning 56-10-2 the last four years before they opened this season 5-1 and were 45-2-1 in the league the last four years with four straight titles.

Those records are downright ridiculous, however you look at them. This kind of success is totally new to Battle Mountain athletics. The school just hasn’t seen success like this in any other sport at any other time. (OK, cross country has been awesome, but it’s hard to compare because you don’t have a win-loss record.)

The kicker is that Eagle Valley in volleyball and Glenwood Springs in soccer, not to mention the entire league, are getting really sick of this. Seriously, Huskies soccer had beaten Glenwood 10-straight times before its loss Tuesday. I’m pretty sure before this streak started that you could have counted on one hand the number of times Battle Mountain had beaten the Demons since the inception of the program in the 1980s.

We’re living in a different world, where Battle Mountain volleyball and soccer are no longer the feel-good inspirational story about how a ski-town school can do well in sports, but are the hunted. Get used to it, Huskies.

Here we go

And this is a good thing for all involved ” athletes, fans, and most importantly, sports writers. While I’m not big on putting too much stock on a game played in September ” except that right now Eagle Valley volleyball is a bit better than Battle Mountain and the Huskies have a small leg up on the Devils in soccer ” we’re going to have some races this fall.

Likely the days of Battle Mountain volleyball and soccer running away with the Slope crown are gone. Volleyball is shaping up as great story. From the coaches and fellow sports writers with whom I’ve talked, Steamboat Springs is the team to beat with Eagle Valley, Battle Mountain and Moffat ” in that order ” in pursuit.

That having been said, Steamboat-Moffat is a huge rivalry, and the two teams split last year. Steamboat’s also coming to Eagle-Vail Saturday to play both the Huskies and the Devils. And the latter two play again next month in Gypsum.

As for soccer, Steamboat leads the league at 3-0, and Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley and Glenwood are all 3-1. Steamboat is an excellent squad, but I don’t see the Sailors going 5-0 in their remaining games against the Huskies, Devils and Demons.

Steamboat has to play those Demons in Glenwood, and as this generation of Battle Mountain soccer discovered Tuesday, that’s not much fun.

Battle Mountain hosts Eagle Valley on Oct. 16 in the final game of the season, a game which is looming larger with each passing day.

And that means we’re going to have more moments of sheer jubilation like we did Tuesday in volleyball, and yes, some lows like Huskies soccer felt in Glenwood ” hopefully more of the former than the latter.

In short, look for more noteworthy days ahead.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or

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