With cross-country and football seasons coming to an end, the Moffat County High School fall sports season came to a close.
Although no teams took home state titles, almost every Moffat County team was in contention entering the final month of play.
Although the end of the season didn’t result in a trip to the playoffs for the Moffat County High School boys soccer team, there was some good news in November.
Cole DuBois, Alex Perez and Tracy Mendoza were named all-conference honorable mentions for the 2009 season.
The team should be poised to be near the top of the Western Slope League next year, as only four players graduate in May 2010.
The losses of Fernando Duarte, Craig Toovey, DuBois and Nick Glispy will hurt the team, but the Bulldogs will keep a solid core of talented players.
The defense and offense should be solid next year, as goalie Dustin Carlson returns along with Alan Flores, Eric Tarango, Jorge Gonzales, Favian Quezada, Bryant Cox and Lupe Rodriguez.
The team started the season with a bang but ran into tough competition along the Western Slope.
The Bulldogs won their first two games Sept. 5 against Montezuma-Cortez High School and Sept. 8 at Rifle High School.
But three straight losses against Steamboat Springs, Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley High School — three of the Western Slope League’s toughest teams — cooled the team off.
The team finished its season with an 11-2 victory against Palisade on Oct. 17 and a tough 3-0 loss Oct. 22 against Steamboat Springs.
Overall, the team finished 5-8-2, including a 4-7-1 mark in the Western Slope League.
Battle Mountain and Steamboat Springs would finish atop the league, with marks of 8-0-1.
It was the tale of two seasons for the girls varsity volleyball team in 2009.
At times, they appeared dominant, capable of staying with the Western Slope League’s best.
At other times, they appeared to play down against inferior competition.
The team ended the regular season with an 8-12 record and a 5-9 mark in the Western Slope League.
Eagle Valley would take the league title, with a 13-1 league record, while Steamboat Springs and Palisade would finish second and third, respectively, with 11-3 records.
Moffat County made the regional tournament as the sixth seed, but lost to No. 1 seed Eagle Valley in the first round.
In the team’s second regional round, the Bulldogs fell behind two games against the fourth seed Battle Mountain Huskies.
But the team showed its resolve in coming from behind to topple the Huskies in five games and set the stage for a matchup against Rock Springs High School in the semifinals.
The team’s progress could be measured in its games against Battle Mountain throughout the season.
In the first matchup, Sept. 26 at Battle Mountain, the Huskies were able to overwhelm the Bulldogs, three games to one.
On Oct. 17, Battle Mountain came to Moffat County and, in what would be one of the Bulldog’s best efforts, the varsity girls outlasted Battle Mountain in five games, winning 3-2.
In the team’s last meeting at the regional meet, Moffat County was able to come from behind and dominate the Huskies to advance.
The Bulldogs lose a strong crop of seniors next year, as Tasha Romney, Jordan Maneotis, Kelly Edington and Lindsey Yoast all depart.
On the boys side, a team loaded with young but experienced runners was expected to compete all season on its way to the state finals.
On the girls side, a young group of runners was expected to improve as the season wore on and sneak into the playoffs.
By the end of the year, the result was the same for both teams — identical ninth-place finishes at the Nov. 6 state meet in Fort Collins.
The girls were led by junior Maddy Jourgensen, who finished fourth overall at state, while the boys leaned on junior Chris Zirkle, who placed sixth overall.
The season started well for the Bulldogs, with both teams placing first at the Sept. 12 meet in Grand Junction.
For the girls, juniors Nike Cleverly and Jourgensen lead a young team composed mostly of freshmen.
The freshman group of Eryn Leonard, Sassy Murray and Bailey Hellander helped the team place second at the regional meet in Aspen, trailing Montrose by only one point.
At the state meet, Leonard (29th), Hellander (74th), Cleverly (79th) and Murray (115th) all continued their stretch of good running.
Perhaps the best news of the season is that the entire girls team returns for next fall.
Zirkle led the boys all season, including a first-place finish at the regional meet.
But as is the case with most strong teams, Zirkle had a lot of help.
Alfredo Lebron (16th at regionals, 18th at state), Alex McCoy (seventh at regionals, 40th at state), Corey Wojtkiewicz (13th at regionals, 195th at state) and Rene Molina (24th at regionals, 143rd at state) all improved as the year wore on.
An injury to Wojtkiewicz possibly cost the Bulldogs a higher spot at the state meet.
Next year, only seniors Wojtkiewicz and McCoy depart as the Bulldogs should put together another strong team.
Ben Bulkeley can be reached at 875-1795 or email@example.com.