Craig The high school winter sports season officially is underway in Colorado, and Moffat County teams have jumped right into their serious practice seasons.
For Colorado High School Activities Association sports — which includes boys and girls basketball, girls swimming and wrestling in Moffat County — Wednesday was the first day for coaches to start mandatory practices with their athletes.
Many MCHS athletes attended open gyms for basketball or worked out for swimming or wrestling before winter sports, but Wednesday marked the real start of their seasons.
For both basketball teams, that means a step up in intensity and a little bit of everything basketball demands.
The girls basketball team ran basic drills, offensive sets, three-on-three, five-on-five drills and a full game to close practice. Because the team’s offensive and defensive principles remain the same even if the sets adapt to team’s personnel, girls basketball can hit the ground running.
“This is the same offense we ran last year, so for most of the girls, this week is review,” girls head coach Matt Ray said. “We run it with no defense so they can see it, then in a smaller group and then we bring it all into one package.”
Even the seventh- and eighth-grade teams run a similar offensive style, Ray said, so for freshmen, the learning curve is quick, as well.
The boys basketball team, now entering its third year with Eric Hamilton as coach, has a familiar system for the players, many of whom are returning to the team. That makes this the fastest start to a season Hamilton has had.
“The older group has been dong a lot of stuff already,” Hamilton said. “We’re so far ahead from where we were last year. Some of the younger guys, we focus more on fundamental stuff at the start.”
Both teams have the good problem of a full gym as practice has begun. That gives them a great deal of competition but also means the first week of practice turns into a tryout with some cuts coming.
“We will do mostly all competitive-type stuff,” Hamilton said. “That way, we get to look at everybody going against each other. A lot of competitive-type drills this week, and then we’ll get more in-depth next week.”
Ray has liked most of what he’s seen so far, making the coming decisions difficult.
“We’ve got to make some tough choices,” he said. “These girls have really made it tough. Everybody’s been going hard.”
The girls swim team begins practice Friday after completing impact tests. The start of its season will include plenty of swimming, same as the rest of the year. But the workouts in the early weeks have a different focus.
“We want to build a base and also develop technique,” coach Meghan Francone said. “So we’ll do swimming and drills. Stuff like high elbows, (good) head position and body position.”
The goal with the early practices is to develop parts of the athletes swimming stroke that will become involuntary as the competition ramps up after the holidays.
“We want to get that muscle memory going,” said coach Anita Reynolds.
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com.