David Pressgrove: Maybe the best

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The 2004-05 school year made me a Moffat County High School athletics history buff.

It also made me wish the Inter--net was invented a long time ago.

The boys soccer team, the football team, the girls basketball team, the boys swim team, freshman golfer Meghan Innes and the girls track team all chased Bulldog history and sent me to the Craig Daily Press archives.

Despite my co-workers' claims that I was upstairs taking naps, I learned quite a bit about past teams in Craig.

It would have been much easier and less time consuming if our paper would have been online all of that time, but because the articles first appear electronically in 1999, I had to do my best not to tear the fragile newsprint kept in rows of bound notebooks.

Because of my research, I'm tempted to label the 2004-05 year the best Moffat County has had in at least 30 years, but I can't bring myself to make that claim. It's all the Colorado State High School Activities Association's fault that I can't pull the trigger on the label gun.

What keeps me from crowning this year as the best are the results from the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons.

In 1991-92, the Bulldogs had state champions in boys and girls cross country. The girls basketball team made it to the final four. The wrestling team finished third. The football team made the quarterfinals. And the boys basketball team was the league champion.

The 1992-93 year's highlights include: a state championship in girls cross country, runner-up finishes in wresting and girls track, a final-four finish in football and girls basketball, the boys cross-country team finishing fifth, the baseball team reaching the state quarterfinals and the boys winning the regional track title.

Those seasons are impressive, but the CHSAA provides an asterisk. During these two seasons, most sports were divided into six divisions. Today, football is the only sport with those divisions. Cross country and track have four divisions, and other major sports have five divisions (basketball and baseball).

That means that there are more teams in each division, which would seem to make things more competitive and more difficult to be the best in the state.

The 2004-05 resume of successes include: a second-place finish in girls cross country, fifth in wrestling, seventh in boys swimming and boys cross country, a quarterfinal appearance in football, and top-16 finishes in girls basketball and baseball. The boys soccer, volleyball, girls swimming, girls golf, boys basketball, and boys and girls track teams also made the post-season.

Not having a state championship hurts this year's chances, and really at first glance, the 2004-05 season pales in comparison to those other two years.

But at least one statistic makes me wonder.

The 1993 girls 3,200-meter relay team won a state title with a time of 10:13. This year's team ran 9:49 and finished third. In fact, the last four 3,200 relay teams, who finished eighth, fifth, eighth and third, would have all been state champions in 1993.

Was competition watered down because of the extra divisions?

"There were still some very good teams like Alamosa and Sterling in our classification," said Athletics Director Jim Loughran, who was the girls basketball coach when the girls made it to the final four. "The difference is all of those Front Range teams that have come along."

Here's a perfect example of Loughran's theory. The team that kept the girls cross-country team from a state title this year was from Mountain View High School. The Loveland-area school wasn't around in the '90s.

While I attempt to defend the teams of the 21st century for playing in less-watered down classifications, I'm being unfair to teams in the '80s. Those teams were in the same league and district as the Grand Junction schools. There's no way to tell how much state hardware they would have brought home if they were competing against Delta or Glenwood Springs instead of Grand Junction or Fruita Monument.

I'm not sure what to conclude from this research. As much as believe that the collective performances of Bulldogs this year were the best ever, it's too hard to prove. Since classifications have changed so much it seems only fair to compare each year with only the years that had similar situations.

So congratulations to the athletes of 2004-05, you were the best group of Bulldogs since, well, at least since 2003-04.

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