Yes, it’s time for spring sports
Doesn’t it feel like spring?
Last week, I was interviewing Battle Mountain’s Quintin Cook for his Skimeister Award, and it was sunny. Cook sat in the bleachers posing for a photo shoot. And we said right then, “This is as nice is it’s going to get.”
Cook not only can ski, but he might have a career in meteorology.
Despite the snowdrifts, here we go with Summit County soccer at Eagle Valley tonight at 6. Bundle up.
A quick roll through the spring sporting world:
• For the gents, welcome to the new Mountain Conference, which has 12 teams with the addition of Montrose and the Vail Mountain School. (Huzzah, Gore Rangers.) To avoid playing 11 of 15 games within the conference, the circuit now has two divisions.
So we give you the Northern Division, which I’d really like to call the Posey Division, even though the Giants catcher has nothing to do with lacrosse: Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley, VMS, Summit County, Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs.
The Southern Division, or Bumgarner Division, is Aspen, Grand Junction, Fruita Monument, Telluride, Montrose and Durango.
Issue No. 1 is that, during the regular season, only five games count toward a team’s record in the regular season, the designated league match within each division. (The Huskies and Devils play each other twice, and the Devils and Gore Rangers meet twice. Only one counts.)
North teams can schedule South teams, and they did — say, like Battle Mountain at Aspen on April 21. That is not a league game.
Issue No. 2 is that every Mountain Conference team’s 15th game will be a crossover game with the other division. No. 1 vs. No. 1, etc., on May 2.
We now break into our regular programming to admonish Battle Mountain for assuming that it will be playing Aspen on that date. Tempting as it is to plot revenge for that ghastly playoff loss last year, may I point out that you still have not beaten Steamboat, and that Eagle Valley figures to want to take a piece out of you?
• As noted above, the Huskies goal of the season is to atone for an 8-7 overtime playoff loss to the Skiers, which Battle Mountain lead 6-0 at the half and 7-3 with about three minutes left. Aspen’s a good team — give them credit for not quitting — but really? As Bluto Blutarsky said in “Animal House” — and you guys play “Shout” after wins — “Nothing is over until we say it’s over.” That is the theme of the season.
• Eagle Valley, your goal is to get back into the playoffs. This is a reasonable goal. It happened two springs ago. You guys were close in games against St. Mary’s, Fruita, Durango and Summit. Turn those into wins and you’re starting to cook with Crisco.
• VMS, this should be fun. Woe be to the team that takes you lightly. Last year, the Gore Rangers were 3-1 against varsity teams and beat everyone but Battle Mountain at the JV level. I’m not penciling in the Gore Rangers for a trip to the de facto title game, which will be Aspen and Steamboat — ahem, prove me wrong, Huskies, Devils and Gore Rangers — but VMS will be fun to watch.
• It’s not right. It’s not fair. It’s reality. The girls’ side of the Mountain Conference will only get one state berth. Girls lacrosse doesn’t have enough teams for 5A and 4A, like the boys. It’s 45 teams for 24 spots across the board
Aspen lost to Mullen, 15-5, in the opening round of the state playoffs. Mountain Conference teams are 0-6 in the postseason dating back to 2009. The only way to change it — i.e. more than one team from the circuit — is to win in the playoffs. Just win, baby.
• Battle Mountain enters as the defending champ of the 4A Slope. No more divisions this year in the league, six home-and-homes with the regular suspects with Rifle at 3A. As was the case in the fall, Battle Mountain has a solid nonconference slate with Coal Ridge, Silver Creek and Evergreen. The last comes to town just before the playoffs. That’s very cool.
The Huskies will find the back of the net this year. Battle Mountain scored 72 goals last year. Only four of those goals graduated — Taylor Denning and Jenai Denardo. I don’t remember this much offense returning since the team had some combination Kelsey Sanders and Julia Burnett, Emily LyBarger and/or Lizzie Seibert.
Can they play defense? The Huskies did graduate their veteran back line and queen of the net, Mindy Vickers.
• Who’s the best player in 4A Slope? It actually could be Mariel Gutierrez of Eagle Valley. This issue with the Devils will be finding someone not named Gutierrez to score for the Devils. The momentum is building in Gypsum.
• Welcome to 2A soccer, Vail Mountain and Vail Christian. The Gore Rangers and Saints will still play in the 3A Slope, but will drop down to 2A for the postseason. That said, the key to qualification is beating those 3A schools. VMS and Vail Christian will get four points for wins against anyone on their league schedule not named the Gore Rangers, Saints, Rangely or CRMS.
• When not playing soccer, the Gore Rangers will discuss whether the Red Sox adding Pablo Sandoval at third base will increase synergy within the culture of the Vail Mountain School. We welcome back Bob Bandoni to his eponymous pitch.
Who’s on first? The greater question is what (second base) person will be tomorrow? In Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” routine, tomorrow is the pitcher. That would be Eagle Valley’s biggest question. Travis Edgar threw 59 innings last year, and he’s now at college.
Right now, I don’t know (third base). Why? (Left field). Because. (center field). We’ll find out on Saturday when the Devils open at Alamosa in Montrose.
Track and field
• Eagle Valley enters at the defending league/regional champion on both the boys’ and girls’ sides, and Battle Mountain should be right behind. We’re going to be watching these teams go back and forth all year.
The Devils return a lot of the athletes who helped the teams to top-10 finishes at the state meet last year.
• Meanwhile, Battle Mountain’s girls were right behind their Eagle Valley counterparts at regionals last year. And the boys, if cross-country and Nordic season are any indication, then they are ready to break out.
• New for 2015 is that the league/regional meet is two weeks before state. That was a decision CHSAA to allow teams to compete for league titles and still have one more week for state qualifying, making that coveted state 18. The Devils will be at the Tiger in Grand Junction for last-chance qualifying, while the Huskies are at St. Vrain.
• Vail Christian moves up to 2A this year in track. The Saints might have a pretty good pole vaulter. Peanuts, anyone?
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.