Yawn, more league titles
Back to back, and back to back to back.Ah, the humdrum existence of Battle Mountain sports these days. It’s almost hard to remember the days when it was big news that Huskies volleyball actually beat another team from he 4A Slope, or that soccer’s presence in the postseason wasn’t a given.As staggering as it may seem, there are probably some students at Battle Mountain who are accustomed to their teams winning league titles by now.Snap out of it. It’s not like the soccer team has made the postseason nine years in a row or something. OK, bad example.If this is the new reality where Battle Mountain wins title after title, I can live with it. You’d be amazed how much better of a writer I am when Battle Mountain teams do well. Huskies fans don’t tell me to do anatomically-impossible things with myself and don’t slash my tires. No one’s done the latter yet, but you get the idea.More likely, we are in one of those happy cycles where just about everything turns into gold (and black) for Battle Mountain, a development made all the sweeter having watched a lot of bad Huskies teams during a long period of time.Saturday, boys’ soccer made it three titles in a row in the Slope. And the booters have good company as volleyball went back-to-back for the first time since 1981-82.Winning is a wonderfully boring thing.
For volleyball, this title was expected. When you won the league last year, went to the state semifinals, graduated no one and were ranked No. 2 in the state all season, sure, it’s an easy prediction.It’s another thing doing it, and it would be an insult to all the time and work that the Huskies have put into this year. Yes, there has been an almost casual atmosphere at The Doghouse this year for some games. Yawn, the Huskies-hitter-of-your-choosing puts down yet another attack that leaves the mark of a volleyball on opposing player’s body.This muted reaction is because the ladies have made it look so easy, almost effortless. That’s how well they have been playing this year. Nice pass, nice set and put it down.By the way, name the team’s leader in kills. Hint: It isn’t Crystin Rodrick. She just seemingly leads the team in every other statistical category, except assists. The assists leader is an easy one, but if you need a clue – her two younger brothers probably don’t own a pair of long pants. (Bob and Lori, could we work on that? Winter’s coming.)This team redefines the concept of a team. These Huskies seem to move as one whether it’s blistering a spike or hustling to get a free ball back over the net. Nicole Penwill – the team’s most consistent hitter, but not the answer to our serious trivia question – missed Homecoming to visit Harvard. (I won’t hold that against you, Nicole, even though Freuds are somewhat partial to Yale). In came Jennifer Thul and Sarah Simmons, and the Huskies cruised. Saturday against the Bears, the Huskies were missing four players because of SATs. Yes, the Bears are pretty bad, but how many teams can thrash a team with one-third of its starting lineup out?This team is so deep that setter Britney Brown has a delightful choice of weapons. Rodrick? Penwill? Devon Abbott? Sydney Nichols? Sofia Lindroth (ding, ding – your kills leader)? Or does Brown knock it down herself?Never forget the backline, either. None of this gets started without good passes from Annie Marcum, Kori Landauer, Allie O’Connor and Kendra Havlik.And then there’s Brian Doyon. In a season where the expectation is unreasonably state title or bust, he’s keeping a lid on things. The focus is on the next game, and the next game only. Do note that the Huskies have not played down to the quality of lesser opponents. Battle Mountain, with the exception of a loss to 5A Doherty, has not dropped a game – not a match – all season. Nothing except hosting the District 7 Tournament Oct. 28 is in the bag. That having been said, Huskies fans, get to The Doghouse. This is something special to watch.
To paraphrase a Cope-ism, at three-peat at any level is a tremendous accomplishment.When it came to boys’ soccer this year, the goal of the three-peat was on the T-shirts, but it was anything but a lead-pipe cinch.Soccer coach David Cope and I talk, and he told me before the season that “It would be a remarkable achievement if this team won league.”It truly is.I know that some in the soccer community don’t like it when I mention who’s graduated in the last two years because they want me to talk about this year’s team. But talking about the losses of Andy Banner, Evie Gonzales, Edgar Hernandez, Connor Drumm, Kyle Moore, Josh Ruark and Tyler Cole and all those guys puts into perspective what the 2006 team has done.Battle Mountain has pretty much graduated an all-league team in the last two years, and this year’s new group just came in and won another league title. This doesn’t happen at other schools, even at mighty Steamboat Springs.And how the Huskies won title No. 3 is another story all together. This team did not look good during that first week against Summit and Steamboat. Give credit to this team’s resolve – and a little talk from Dr. Phil aka boys’ basketball coach Phil Tronsrue. Taking a cue from the boys’ basketball team’s run last year after losing the first league game of the season, soccer adopted a new mentality. “Every game is for the league title.” After losing the first game of the league slate to the Sailors, the Huskies promptly won 10 straight in the Slope, capped by Saturday’s thrilling win in Glenwood.In the process characters have emerged. Tony Seibert became the anchor of the defense. (Get well soon, Tony). D.J. Van Curen – psych! – Van Curan has quietly done a magnificent job in goal.
Ricky Luevanos is a playmaker. Erik Garcia is just a classy player and co-captain with Van Curan. Gus Everly, Mike Scigliano, Dylan Hall and Wilder Heuga are just the latest to come out of the Huskies’ pipeline to produce as seniors. Connor Tedstrom and Jair Molina are just freshmen? Yikes.Jose Pavon is progressing into the prime-time scorer that his talent indicates. Chris Woodruff? This kid is totally underrated, Alberto Hernandez? Good to have a Berto scoring a clutch goal in a big game. (Ask Cope about Alberto Saenz for your Huskies soccer history lesson.)This league was meant to be wide open. The Huskies won the close games when needed – last week was not a good week for the ticker between Eagle Valley and Glenwood – and ran away from the pack.As for Cope, this was a tremendous coaching job. He asked at the beginning of the season whether Battle Mountain had built a team or a program. The answer is the latter. Job well done, Cope. You got my vote for Slope Coach of the Year. (Doyon, you don’t need my vote. That’s a done deal).Speaking of good coaches, I hear Rob Parish, Kelli Witter and Ashley Weaver have two OK cross-country teams. Pound them at regionals, guys and gals. Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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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.