With 2016 ending, now is the time we look back on the year in sports in Moffat County, full of sizable achievements for local athletes, as well as some sports seasons that ended with the sentiment, “there’s always next year.”
With wins and losses alike, here are some of the highlights of the past 12 months, starting with January through June.
A successful season for the Moffat County High School wrestlers culminated in eight of Craig’s grapplers placing at the 3A Region 4 Tournament in Montrose, with six of them among the top four of their weight class, qualifying them for state, MCHS placing third overall out of 14 teams.
Chris Moschetti, Issik Herod, Mikinzie Klimper, Brett Loyd and Stelios Peroulis each placed second in their weight classes, while Hugo Hernandez placed third, all going on to the state event. Jefferson Piatt and Ryan Zimmerman each took sixth at regionals, just short of making it to state.
Peroulis, who graduated in May, said the trip to the Front Range was exciting, though he prefers the Moffat County gym.
“I’d take home crowd over the Pepsi Center any day,” he said.
At the big time, Peroulis lasted the longest of MCHS athletes, losing in the first round only to keep after it and claim third place in the 3A 220-pound bracket, while at 182, Hernandez finished sixth, and the team as a whole took 16th.
At the younger level, Craig Middle School had a season full of victories, including a team win of both the Northwest Colorado Championships and the district tournament. Going beyond the regular school schedule, young Bulldogs continued at the Rocky Mountain Nationals regional event, with Daniel Caddy and Michael Voloshin each earning a title.
Caddy, Voloshin, Dagan White, Dylan Zimmerman, Caden Call, Kael Poe, Ryan Duzik and Tyler Fortune also went on to compete in RMN’s state tourney.
Moffat County wrestling also notched an additional honor in May when former coach Roman Gutierrez received the award for Lifetime Service to Wrestling in Colorado Springs and induction into the Colorado Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Gutierrez coached the sport at MCHS for 31 years and saw the team take five state titles.
It was a varied 2015-16 season for Bulldog basketball. Moffat County boys ended with a 7-13 record and sixth place in the 3A Western Slope following a win of the conference championship the year before.
Moffat County girls finished 21-5 in one of the best seasons ever for the Lady Bulldogs, including a WSL title, a district championship, a regional championship and a fourth-place berth in the state tournament, the second consecutive year making it past the postseason’s Sweet 16.
Matched up with Parker’s Lutheran Lions again in the Great 8, MCHS girls were knocked out of contention by the Lions, who went on to claim the state title.
Leah Camilletti and Morgan Lawton were each selected All-State players by Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports, with Camilletti a state leader in three-point accuracy and Lawton second in 3A in rebounds.
Teammate Kayla Pinnt likewise beat out every other hoops player in Colorado with more steals than any male or female player.
The athletes of the Moffat County pool worked toward triumphs for the swimming season, and though girls narrowly missed state qualification, Jesse Kurz hit state times for the 50- and 100-yard freestyle races.
Due to being the only member of the team to move to the next level, the graduating senior opted not to attend the state meet.
At the college level, MCHS alumnus Eryn Leonard was among 12 Colorado Mesa University swimmers to attend the NCAA Division II National Championships in March, placing highest individually in 15th in the 200 butterfly race.
Leonard credited teachers and coaches at Mesa and Moffat County alike as driving her as far as she’s gone.
“They provided this opportunity for me,” she said.
A slow start to the season saw the Bulldogs of the diamond pick up steam later in the schedule to move into fourth place in the 3A Western Slope with an 8-9 overall record and 7-7 in the conference.
Under the past season’s rules, this would have automatically qualified the Dogs for the playoffs, but due to the newly implemented RPI standings, Moffat County didn’t make the cut for the postseason.
Track and field
A second-place team finish at the state championships included three individual race wins by Kayla Pinnt, who swept the sprints, first in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dash, setting a state meet record in the latter. The 4x100 relay team of Kayla Pinnt, Quinn Pinnt, Emma Samuelson and Ary Shaffer also took the gold, all of whom took All-State honors as a result.
Following her final relay race, Kayla Pinnt said running with her sister was a motivator for her performance.
“If I could do anything for that girl, I would. I wanted it so bad for her and know how it feels to be a state champion,” she said.
Other Bulldog highlights at the biggest meet of the season included Shaffer, Madysen Cramer, Mattie Jo Duzik and Allie Dilldine second in the 4x800 relay and Keenan Hildebrandt third in the boys discus, contributing to the guys placing 25th.
Three Moffat County seniors went on to college track, with Shaffer going to George Fox University in Oregon, Selena Hernandez at University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and Kayla Pinnt moving on to Colorado State University.
Kayla, a 10-time state champ and two-time 3A Athlete of the Year throughout her high school career, also took a win in the 100 dash at the Great Southwest Track and Field Class in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The second part of this article will run in Monday’s Craig Daily Press, including rodeo, football and CNCC soccer, among other details.