John Vandelinder: The end of the road

Bulldog Beat

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— Last week was the end of the road for two of Moffat County's sports teams.

The fall sports season is coming to a close, with football in its final week of Friday night lights, well, on Friday.

Cross country

Coach Todd Trapp's runners top the beat this week, as the Bulldogs had a strong showing at the state championships in Colorado Springs on Saturday.

Junior Alicia Nelson captured fourth place in the girls division, solidifying her role as the girls No. 1 runner heading into next season. Superfrosh Mady Jourgensen placed 15th in the season finale, continuing her rise in her first year on the team.

Senior Mike McNicol finished 28th on Saturday, pacing the boys team. He did this after capturing three individual titles to add to his running resume.

Trapp has said this team has worked harder than any team he has had during his tenure as coach.

I haven't been here long, but I agree.

The progress they made from the beginning of the season was amazing. As their confidence grew, each of their times shrunk. No one expected much of this team after all of the seniors it lost in the offseason, so qualifying for the state championships is a tribute to Trapp's coaching and the youths' dedication and hard work.

Expect great things from the girls team next year. With Nelson and Jourgensen returning with fellow freshmen Nike Cleverly and Callie Papoulas, they should improve on an already strong team.

Volleyball

It was a shocking end to a magnificent season.

The Bulldogs volleyball team lost two heart-breaking matches to get bounced from the postseason at the district championships in Montrose on Saturday.

The girls had won 14 matches in a row before bowing out.

I think all the winning actually hurt this team.

They had dominated their competition so overwhelmingly this past month, that when they were finally tested, it didn't seem like they knew how to respond.

The mood in the locker room after Saturday's loss was surprising. Sure, there was sorrow, but laughter and music still could be heard. These girls had fun all year, right up to the very end.

Six seniors will graduate, leaving next year's team with some awfully big shoes to fill. Four starters have been nominated to the all-Western Slope League team, as well as coach Brianna Montgomery.

The team finished with 17 wins, more than any previous Moffat County volleyball team, after winning seven last year.

Montgomery has helped turn around this program, providing a solid foundation that can be built on for years to come. Her biggest task is ahead.

Montgomery will have to prove next year if this season was a fluke. I am positive she will rise to the occasion.

Kari Griffin and Amy Dilldine will look to take their skills on to the next level.

Markie Workman and Angie Charchalis will be playing basketball soon, when they should get another crack at a state title.

Football

The Bulldogs got a taste of what the postseason would have felt like when they were manhandled by Glenwood Springs on Friday.

Moffat County encountered its worst loss in more than two decades at the hands of the No. 1 team in the state.

Coach Tim Hafey's squad had a great game plan heading into Friday's match-up, and it worked perfectly for two quarters. Unfortunately, football is a game played in four quarters.

Glenwood's quarterback is ahead of any football player I have seen this season. He is Division I material, so don't be disappointed, fans. The Demons have been laying the licks on everybody this season.

The end of the season is on Friday, when the Bulldogs travel to Rifle. This team needs to close out the year with a victory, to cool the sting of a sub .500 season.

Lyle Schaffner ran hard this week, reminding fans that the Bulldogs still hit hard and come to play, night in and night out.

It's disheartening to think about next year with games remaining on the schedule, but, losses do that.

I think of the speed of sophomore Jasen Kettle and the growth of quarterback Matt Linsacum, and I can't help but get excited.

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