John Vandelinder

Photo by John Vandelinder

John Vandelinder

John Vandelinder: A year in review


John Vandelinder

John Vandelinder's columns appear Tuesdays and Fridays in the Craig Daily Press. E-mail him at

— The 2007-08 Moffat County High School sports season is finished as fans bid farewell to an impressive departing senior class.

MCHS claimed five state championships - counting the two academic championships - and had several deep runs into the playoffs.

Countless school records were shattered, and a school record eight student athletes earned college scholarships.

Not too shabby for a 4A school with a little more than 700 students that competes in a classification that averages 1,200 per school.

Fall season

The Bulldog football team was all the rage at the beginning of the fall season, blowing out its first two opponents with a new offense and a stingy defense.

An injury to starting running back/middle linebacker JT Haddan in the team's third game contributed to five consecutive losses on its way to a 3-7 season.

The Bulldogs did win the 4A academic championship, proving the team may not be the most talented, but it was the smartest.

Fortunately for MCHS fans, the volleyball team - led by first year coach Brianna Montgomery - reeled off 16 consecutive wins on its way to the state playoffs, before losing in the district championship round.

Seniors Kari Griffin, Amy Dilldine, Meghan Innes, Angie Charchalis and Markie Workman led the Western Slope League's most surprising team, each earning an all-conference selection, while Montgomery was named coach of the year.

Junior Alicia Nelson and senior Mike McNicol led the Bulldog cross country team, but the surprise was freshman Maddy Jourgensen. Jourgensen pushed Nelson to her strongest season and gave track fans something to look forward to come spring.

The MCHS soccer team started slow, but closing with a 2-0-1 record against playoff teams. A pretty sight to see, even if it was a little late.

Senior golfer Sean Smith hung up his clubs this year after advancing to the regionals for the third straight year. Look out for Nick Moyer.

Moyer led the team as a junior and will be back in the fall.

Winter season

I learned first-hand how big wrestling is in this town when the Bulldogs hit the mat in early winter.

A slow start culminated in MCHS keeping alive its impressive streak of sending athletes to the state championships, as five Bulldogs made the trip to the Pepsi Center.

No state titles, but a strong showing by freshman Charlie Griffiths - combined with the impressive year-long performances by the Bad Dog wrestlers - showed that wrestling in Craig is still king, and should stay that way for years to come.

The girls basketball team did what has become routine for a Craig Mortensen-led squad: win and win big.

Another WSL championship came for a team that won its league games by an average of 30 points.

Charchalis and Workman set all-time school records along the way, but a loss in the Great 8 left Mortensen still searching for that elusive state title.

The boys basketball team proved to be a two-headed monster, losing a game by 50 points in the early stages of the season, only to rebound with consecutive upsets on its way to a playoff birth.

First-year coach Steve Maneotis turned this team around, and the best part is that the core returns this fall.

Mike Peters, Chayton Owens, Blake Najera and Thomas Noble led the team as juniors - and judging by how they are probably practicing as you read this - they are determined to impress again.

Sisters Caitlin and Kelsey Conci tore threw the MCHS swimming pool, leaving behind numerous pool records that should stand for quite some time.

Kelsey won a state championship in the 50-free, capping off a successful season in coach Marin Campbell's farewell tour.

The Bulldog hockey team started the season strong, bursting onto the scene without a loss in its first 12 games.

Senior Scott Smith and junior Colt Criswell seemed unstoppable.

Criswell's speed and Smith's leadership and hand-eye coordination - he deflected numerous shots for goals - helped the team to a frozen four berth in coach Jim Hall's first season.

Spring season

Winter refused to go quietly this year and all the spring season teams had a taste of Mother Nature's wrath.

Senior golfer Meghan Innes made her fourth consecutive trip to the state championship round, finishing in the top 20 for the second time, while sophomore Heather Nicholson saved her best round for the regional tournament, placing fifth.

The MCHS baseball team underwent a coaching change - Tim Hafey took the reins - and didn't miss a beat.

Senior Chris Winder led the team to its third consecutive league championship - a split with Palisade - but a run in with a 6-foot-8 pitcher from eventual state champion Ralston Valley ended the Bulldogs season.

Steamboat resident Cole Worsley - a junior - single handily matched the Conci sisters in the pool, winning a state title in the 100-butterfly and setting new school swimming records along the way.

The track and field team finished the season as possibly the year's most impressive unit.

Erin Urbanoski won her second consecutive long jump title - the junior will be back looking for a third - as MCHS qualified more athletes for the track state championships than any other MCHS squad.

The girls soccer team took its lumps this year, but first-year coach Alegra Yager has the team enthused about the sport again.

Next season

Seniors JT Haddan, Charchalis, Workman and the Conci's will be missed, but there are many underclassman who could impress in the upcoming season.

Jourgensen and Nelson should run over the competition, Criswell could score 25 goals, the MCHS boys basketball team could go even deeper this year and who knows, Charlie Griffiths could be the next MCHS state champ.

Only time will tell.

Enjoy the summer; football season is on the way.


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