Conner Lee returns a punt during a game against Farson-Eden High School in Baggs, Wyo. last season. Lee, who will start his senior year at Little Snake River Valley High School in the fall, will be one of several rising seniors who will be looking to three-peat as state champions.

file photo

Conner Lee returns a punt during a game against Farson-Eden High School in Baggs, Wyo. last season. Lee, who will start his senior year at Little Snake River Valley High School in the fall, will be one of several rising seniors who will be looking to three-peat as state champions.

Little Snake River Valley looks to maintain dominance

LSRV state titles, 2010-2012

2010-11: football, boys basketball, boys track and field, girls track and field

2011-12: football, boys basketball, girls basketball, boys track and field

Quotable

“We’ve had a good group of kids. With anything it’s the relationships, the camaraderie between the players. The star basketball players may not be the star football players, but he’ll still come out for it. He’ll come out and support his other guys. For these kids, it was an easy concept to get.”

—Mike Bates, LSRV football and boys track and field coach, about how LSRV has become one of the dominant sports programs in Wyoming’s Class 1A in recent years.

Little Snake River Valley School has enjoyed unprecedented success over the past three years.

Now the trick will be to keep it going.

With six boys state titles in the past two years and two more for the girls, the Baggs, Wyo., School has enjoyed something of a golden age in athletics recently.

The school’s athletic fortunes started to improve during the 2009-10 school year, when the state of Wyoming introduced a new 1A 6-man division in football.

That allowed the Rattlers to field a team and make a run at the tournament. That move, as well as the presence of some up-and-coming athletes, got LSRV athletics on the right track. The football team made the state tournament as a 2-seed. Then the boy’s basketball team placed third in the state. The boys and girls track teams rounded out a strong year, placing second and third in the state, respectively.

That set the stage for a great two-year run from 2010-2012 when the LSRV boys claimed back-to-back titles in football, basketball, and track and field and the girls finished on top in track and field in 2011 and basketball in 2011-12.

Boys basketball coach Paul Prestrud attributes the success to the great run of athletes the school has had.

“The thing that makes the biggest different is that when you have great athletes or players, you tend to look like a great coach,” he said. “We’ve had three great classes in a row.”

According to Prestrud and football and boys track and field coach Mike Bates, Athletes like Chance Englehart and Sean Rietveld led the way as seniors during the 2010-11 school year, while Miles Englehart, Daniel Wille and Rex Stanley contributed as juniors. Those three then took over and earned three more state titles last year.

Girls basketball coach Jodi Stanley said the timing for all these athletes could not have been better.

“In the past we’ve had great athletes that weren’t surrounded by other great athletes,” Stanley said. “I’ve gotten to coach great athletes, but not so many at once, in one place.”

After losing some of those stars, LSRV will have to adjust to sustain its lofty standards.

“2000 was the last time we won a state championship in basketball,” Prestrud said. “We went through a lull. Small schools go in cycles. In 2006 I took over as head coach and we didn’t win a conference game for two years.”

Then, Prestrud said, a great group of student athletes started school at LSRV and the climate of the school’s athletics changed. Bates agreed, saying the biggest reason for the development of the players was their relationship with each other.

“We’ve had a good group of kids. With anything it’s the relationships, the camaraderie between the players,” Bates said. “The star basketball player may not be the star football player, but he’ll still come out for it. He’ll come out and support his other guys. For these kids, it was an easy concept to get.”

Despite the departures of Englehart, Stanley and Wille, LSRV boys teams figure to be in good hands with a host of rising seniors that have already enjoyed the taste of state titles, including Connor Lee, Grayson Lee and Manny Quinterros

“I told the guys that this year has a chance to be our best in football,” he said. “I’ve got a returning quarterback and guys all over the place. We have guys who will be great on both sides of the ball. I think it’s going to be an amazing year.”

Prestrud doesn’t think his squad will miss a beat either.

“I’ll have five seniors on the boys basketball team,” Prestrud said. “Mostly in a 1A school, you get two or three and have to fill in. The juniors [from the past year] realize that now it’s their show.

“And these kids are good about getting together during the offseason and working out. It’s about carrying on the tradition now.”

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