When she was 5, Jodi Stanley went to Casper (Wyo.) College with her father. It was her first time in a city bigger than Baggs, Wyo., and her first time on a college campus. One thing above all others stuck out to Stanley on the trip — an outdoor basketball court. With lights surrounding the court, Stanley said she was fascinated by the idea of being able to play ball at any time of the day.
Johnny Landa never would have guessed what started out as a challenge would develop into a passion Two years ago as a sophomore, Landa said friend and running partner Alfredo Lebron made fun of him saying he wouldn’t be able to make it on the Moffat County High School track and field team. Not one to back down, Landa signed up to run.
As the 100-yard freestyle race came to a close Saturday in Montrose, swimmers and coaches alike where cheering on the athlete in the outside lane. It wasn’t a record-breaking performance or a swimmer pushing for a state-qualifying time. Curtis Bowser was 20 seconds behind every other swimmer in his heat, but his last-place finish wasn’t the real story. Bowser, a Moffat County High School sophomore, had hardly been in a pool in his 16 years let alone been a competitive swimmer before joining the MCHS boys swimming team this season.
For 34 years, Craig Mortensen got to run the Moffat County High School basketball program the way he wanted. Whether coaching the boys or girls team, Mortensen always had the final say for the Bulldogs. However as an assistant coach for the Adams State College women’s basketball team, Mortensen was in a position to learn as well as teach. “Every coaching style is different and every coach has a different way of doing things,” Mortensen said. “As an assistant coach, I got to see how a team was ran from someone else’s viewpoint and I learned more about the game of basketball.
71-year-old driver was also at the wheel in May 2011 crash
A Moffat County School District bus crashed Monday morning, knocking down a light fixture in the baseball field at Craig Middle School, 915 Yampa Ave., before the bus came to a halt. The accident occurred around 8 a.m. Monday after bus driver Patricia Hering, 71, dropped CMS students off at the main building before starting her normal route back to the bus garage north of the school. Bryan Gonzalez, a Craig Police Department corporal, said as Hering drove the bus back to the garage, she rear-ended the bus in front of her before heading in a northwest direction into the field behind the baseball diamond.
From line drives to base hits, the Moffat County High School varsity baseball team struggled to slow the Delta offense Saturday on the road. In the Bulldogs first doubleheader since March 30, MCHS gave up four runs in the first inning in both games, falling 13-6 in the first and 20-1 in the second. “Delta came out swinging in the first game and hit the ball really well all day,” head coach Justin Folley said. “They had some hits in each game, but we made some mistakes in the field that cost us. But, when they come out swinging like they did, it is without a doubt hard to stop them.” Senior Ivan Nielsen started at pitcher in the first game for the Bulldogs, who dropped to 3-8 overall and 1-5 in the Western Slope League.
The Moffat County High School football season ended in November, but it only marked the beginning of the next season for head coach Kip Hafey. With four months until practice officially begins for the football team, Hafey said he has met with his assistant coaches every week since the season ended “We want to give as many opportunities to our players to develop as we can, but I also want to do that for my coaches,” Hafey said. “This is the offseason, but we are still developing ideas and schemes for offense, defense and special teams so we can implement them and improve.” Hafey, like most high school coaches, doesn’t stop his coaching duties when the last game is played.
If the doors of the Little Snake River Valley School are open, chances are Mike Bates is somewhere to be found on the small campus in Baggs, Wyo. Monday through Thursday, Bates is a social studies teacher, tutoring students on his favorite subject — history — at LSRV. After school days in the fall, Bates is on the football field preparing his six-man football team for the next opponent and in the spring, he is on the track helping sprinters develop speed. Even in the winter, when Bates isn’t a coach for the Rattlers, he is often seen sitting in the corner near the door watching the school’s successful basketball teams defend their home court.
Tony Peroulis said getting ideas out in the open is the only way to get them in motion. At the Moffat County Booster Club meeting Thursday in the auditorium at Moffat County High School, Peroulis, the club president, listened to the members in attendance as they threw out ideas on raising money and brining in new members. “We have started with small steps,” Peroulis said to the members. “But, the main thing is that we are getting started. “We have crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s and come together, but we can’t let ideas sit ideal.”
Harry Tripp was no stranger to success on a soccer field in high school. As a sophomore, junior and senior, Harry, who primarily played defense, helped lead his team to the Colorado boys state soccer tournament, advancing as far as the Elite 8. However right out of high school, Harry and his wife, Erica, had their first daughter, Skylar, which Harry said made him put his soccer playing days on the back burner. “When we had Skylar, Erica and I moved here to Craig from the Denver area because I had a job at the coal mine,” he said. “I still played in some adult soccer leagues, but nothing really hashed out and I couldn’t play that often.” Skylar has proven to be the catalyst Harry needed to get back into the game.
Time and again Tuesday, the Moffat County High School girls varsity soccer team’s defense could not gain control of the middle of the field. The Bulldogs hosted Palisade High School at Woodbury Sports Complex in the team’s first game since March 30. Moffat County played even for the first 15 minutes, but Palisade finally got their passes to connect and scored the game’s first goal in the 17th minute. Palisade continued to use what worked, scoring three goals each half to rout the Bulldogs, 6-1.
Last year, the Yampa Valley Golf Course had just less than 900 rounds played in the first three weeks the course was open. This season, almost 1,800 rounds have been played in the first three weeks, about double last year’s total. And, the course opened two weeks earlier than last year thanks to a mild winter and a warm spring. The golf course opened March 16 and has been open every day since, racking up 1,057 rounds played by non-members and 720 member-rounds through Sunday. Jason Back, the golf course professional, said the early-season play has been huge in trying to make up for last year’s loss in revenue.
Ivan Nielsen likes pressure on his shoulders. Whether at first base, on the mound or at the plate, Nielsen, a Moffat County High School senior, wants his varsity baseball teammates to rely on him. And, the reliance has never been more important than this season for Nielsen, as he is one of two seniors for the Bulldogs and made the step up from relief pitcher to starting ace. “As a pitcher, no matter what, you are involved in every play and you run the pace of the game,” Nielsen said. “Fast or slow, it is your decision. And, your teammates back you and rely on you, so you have to have that can-win attitude.”
Both the Little Snake River Valley School boys and girls varsity basketball teams brought home state titles in March to Baggs, Wyo. Neither team lost a game all season as the boys repeated as champions and the girls team got retribution for a third-place finish in 2011. But, the celebration couldn’t last too long, as both sets of athletes had another state title to aim for. The LSRV track and field team got under way March 23 at the Natrona Invite in Casper.
Jarret Walt sat in a Switzerland hostel last week with his hockey teammates, flipping through mostly German-speaking TV stations. After finding a sports channel and muting the voices, Walt said he saw something that inspired him. “Hockey players in Europe take their celebrations after goals a lot more seriously than we do in America,” Walt said. “My teammates and I picked up a bunch of new celebrations and decided to try one. After a sweet play and my teammates goal, we slide to our knees and high-fived each other.” New celebrations was one of the many things Walt, a Moffat County High School junior, and senior Ethan O’Mailia got to experience last week as part of the Colorado Ski Country Selects youth hockey team.
The Colorado Northwestern Community College women’s basketball team came close all season to posting a winning record for the first time in over 10 years. But the Spartans couldn’t finish in four close games — losing by two to Eastern Utah, by three to Colby Community College, by four to Western Wyoming and by five to Lake Region. Head coach Antowin Edwards said the four losses by five or less points is what defined the season for his team, as they finished with a record of 11-20 overall, 1-14 in the Scenic West Athletic Conference.
Since Jeff Simon took over as athletic director at Moffat County High School in June, he has wanted a more united athletics program in Craig. In early March, Jill Hafey, the athletic director/assistant principal at Craig Middle School, took on a larger role with curricular development for the Moffat County School District. District officials then went to Simon about overseeing both MCHS and CMS as a district athletic director. Simon said he didn’t have to think twice.
The sixth annual Craig Bad Dogs Wrestling Classic was Saturday at Moffat County High School. More than 400 wrestlers from 20 teams and four states competed in the all-day tournament. More than 80 local youth wrestlers from the Bad Dogs, Pee Wee and Moffat County youth wrestling programs competed in the tournament.
Justin Folley didn’t hide his frustration after Saturday’s doubleheader against Eagle Valley. The Moffat County High School varsity baseball team dropped the first game, 21-7, at Craig Middle School, but jumped to an 8-3 lead after four innings in the second game. Folley continued to try and motivate his players and tell them to stay on their toes. Yet, the rest of the game played out the way he feared it might.
Caitlin and Kelsey Conci took similar paths to this point in their lives. As seniors in college — Caitlin at the University of North Dakota and Kelsey at the University of Wyoming — both girls wrapped up their collegiate swimming careers in the past month. The twin sisters, who graduated in 2008 from Moffat County High School, swam together as Bulldogs and kept in contact the past four years while living in different states. But, with college swimming over, now is when Caitlin and Kelsey, 22, go in different directions.
There was no lack of physicality Friday in the Moffat County-Steamboat Springs girls varsity soccer game at Woodbury Sports Complex. The Bulldogs got into an early hole in their home opener and the Steamboat defense suffocated Moffat County’s offense in a 5-0 loss, the second loss of the season to the Sailors. “There was a lot of pushing and shoving and it takes its toll on the girls,” Bulldogs head coach Harry Tripp said. “That is not the way we play, we don’t go through someone. And when we got upset, we didn’t play good.”
Mark Samuelson stood in front of about 30 people Wednesday in the Moffat County High School auditorium. As vice president of the Moffat County Booster Club, Samuelson had one simple message for anyone interested in signing up. “This is the most important time to be here,” he said. “If you are here in the beginning, you can help set the course of how this club goes and how we can help the schools.” The Booster Club had their first official membership drive Wednesday, and Samuelson and club president Tony Peroulis estimated they had about 50 to 60 members signed up as of Wednesday night.
Deven Mosman came into the Craig Middle School wrestling season weighting about 130 pounds. Mosman, a CMS seventh-grader, could have stayed at 130 pounds and done well, but he had a different agenda. “I went down to 120 pounds because there was a kid I wanted to wrestle,” he said. “A Cedar Ridge wrestler beat me before and I wanted to wrestle him again, so I had to go down a weight.”
All the pieces were in place for Ivan Nielsen to lead the Moffat County High School varsity baseball team to victory Tuesday at Craig Middle School. In the Bulldogs’ home opener against Union High School, neither team had scored in four innings and the game was tied 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh. Nielsen, an MCHS senior, stepped up to the plate to lead off for the Bulldogs. “I wanted to sit and wait until he gave me something I liked,” Nielsen said. “I knew I wanted to get it in a gap and try to get a double so we could get a runner in scoring position.”
It was the end of a long weekend for Matt Hulstine when he stepped out of the pool Saturday at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. Hulstine, a Moffat County High School junior, swam eight events over two days between competing Friday in Montrose and Saturday in Grand Junction. Yet, even at the end, Hulstine didn’t let his fatigue overshadow his accomplishments over the weekend.
Melissa Camilletti and Annie Sadvar were understandably nervous heading into Sunday’s Colorado Coaches of Girls’ Sports all-state basketball game in Arvada. Teaming up with and competing against 14 of the top Class 4A seniors in the state would shed light on how good the two Moffat County High School seniors are as players. Once the game got going, however, Camilletti said their worries were put to rest and they just played their game. And, while the game was to recognize the top players in Colorado, a 76-67 victory for Camilletti and Sadvar’s team was a welcome achievement.
The Moffat County High School rodeo team has often struggled with a lack of numbers. As one of the rare teams in northwest Colorado, MCHS usually has around five athletes on the team. This spring, however, head coach Janice Edwards said numbers are actually a strength for her squad. The Bulldogs have nine athletes, including five returning stars and four athletes new to the high school team.
The Moffat County High School girls varsity soccer team got its first goal of the season Friday against Grand Valley, but not much else went right for the Bulldogs. Poor passing and mental mistakes paved way for the Grand Valley offense to put 36 shots on goal en route to a 3-1 victory over MCHS. “I thought we played horrible,” head coach Harry Tripp said. “We couldn’t pass the ball and fundamentally, we had four or five bad throw ins. It was the basic stuff like not putting our foot down when passing in and passing the ball to the other team that cost us, and I don’t really have an answer why we couldn’t do the fundamentals.” Harry, who said he is usually level headed when things go wrong, had to try something different at half time.
The Moffat County High School girls varsity soccer team has one number in mind this season, and that is five. With Harry Tripp at the helm the past two seasons, the Bulldogs have won a school-record five games each year. Not only do Harry and his players want to break the school record, but getting over five wins means the team can make a push for the playoffs. “We definitely want to make a push for the playoffs this year, and I think we have the group of girls to do it,” Harry said. “Once we can get the whole team on track, we have a shot at winning games. The girls are friends, so they can work better together on connecting with passes and knowing what each other should be doing.
Alfredo Lebron said he has grown accustomed to the expectations placed upon him. Lebron, a Moffat County High School senior, was expected to be the top 4A cross-country runner in the fall and in October, fulfilled his goal of a state title. Now with track and field season here, Lebron again is expected to be the runner to beat in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races as the top returning placer from last year’s state meet. “I’m not really nervous and I try not to sound cocky, but you get out there with a different mindset that you can do good if you put in the work,” he said. “I know a bunch of people will be going for me, but I will go out there and do what I can do and hopefully that is enough to get an undefeated season.”
The Moffat County High School varsity baseball team’s trip to the 4A state playoffs last season was no fluke. Four seniors, including 4A Western Slope League co-player of the year Ben Williams, anchored the team. The Bulldogs scored double-digit runs in six games and routinely saw the ball fly out of the park at the hands of multiple batters. But this season, head coach Justin Folley said how his players fill the roles of the four departed seniors will determine if the Bulldogs make it back to the playoffs.
In March 2011, Ethan O’Mailia got the opportunity to skate with the Colorado Avalanche, a moment he described as “a once in a lifetime chance.” O’Mailia’s play and leadership for the Moffat County Bulldogs club hockey team prompted his coaches to nominate him for the opportunity. This year, O’Mailia, a Moffat County High School senior, had the chance to impress a different coach with his play and earn another opportunity for his hockey career. During a hockey camp at Moffat County Ice Arena, O’Mailia worked out for Bryan Smith, a coach for the Colorado Ski Country Selects youth hockey team that travels and plays in Europe.
Actions from the Moffat County School Board meeting March 22.
A week ago, Annie Sadvar and Melissa Camilletti joked about being “retired” from high school basketball. The two Moffat County High School seniors wrapped up their final season as players on the MCHS girls varsity basketball team with a loss in the Sweet 16 on Feb. 25. Sadvar said she contemplated throwing her basketball shoes away. Lucky for her, she didn’t. Sadvar and Camilletti were chosen to participate in the Colorado Coaches of Girls’ Sports all-state basketball game this weekend in Arvada.
Chad Elliott said when the Moffat County boys eighth-grade youth basketball team fell in the second round of Yampa Valley Classic on Sunday, the players never lost hope. The Moffat County Youth Basketball program’s tournament, which consisted of more than 30 teams from the Western Slope, Utah and Wyoming, hosted group play Saturday and tournament play Sunday at Moffat County High School, Craig Middle School and Sandrock Elementary School. The boys eighth-grade team beat Rifle in the opening round Sunday but fell, 48-37, against North Fork, an all-star team from Glenwood Springs. However because the winner of the consolation bracket earned a chance to play the winner of the winner’s bracket, Elliott said he told the kids they could have a chance to avenge their loss.
Todd Trapp said the early part of the track and field season is used to get kids in the right kind of physical shape. While the athletes want to run great times early, Trapp, the Moffat County High School track and field coach, said with the right conditioning, the best times will come toward the end of the season as they push to qualify for the state meet. Senior Andy Browning’s time in the 200-meter dash Saturday at the Delta Invitational sets him up to finish among the top sprinters in the state. In the Bulldog’s third meet of the season, Browning took third place in the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.9 seconds, only .4 seconds off the time he posted at last year’s Western Slope League meet.
Being among the best in the state at the breaststroke has become something of the norm for Matt Hulstine. During the summer, Hulstine swam his way to two first-place finishes in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke events at the 2011 Western Zone Age Championships. Last May, Hulstine finished fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke at the Class 4A boys state swimming competition as a sophomore.
The Moffat County High School varsity baseball team gave two very different performances Saturday on the second day of the Montrose Tournament. In the first game against Paonia High School, the Bulldogs rode strong pitching and clutch hitting to an 8-5 victory. However, in the second game against Montrose, the Bulldogs’ lack of depth at pitcher opened the door for Montrose’s powerful offense in a 25-2 loss. The Bulldogs wrapped up the opening weekend with a 1-2 record.
Justin Folley said he knew having a young baseball team would present challenges early in the season. On Friday, the Moffat County High School varsity baseball team stepped on the field for the first time this season in the Montrose Tournament at Montrose High School. The Bulldogs got overwhelmed early against Emery (Utah) High School in the opening game, falling behind 4-0 after two innings, and struggled to slow the Spartans offense in a 15-3 loss. “I knew we would struggle being as young as we are, but I thought we did alright for it being our first game,” said Folley, the team’s head coach. “A lot of the young guys stepped up and did some good things, so all in all, I think it was a learning experience and we will have to go from here.”
In August, Daniel Brown walked onto the Yampa Valley Golf Course for the 2011 Men’s Club Championships and walked off the winner. Brown, a Craig resident, shot a 151 over the two-day tournament to be crowned club champion. On Friday, Brown got an early start on his title defense. A mixture of a mild winter and warm temperatures in March allowed the golf course to open to the public Friday, about two weeks earlier than last year.
In 2004, Julianne Malley and her family moved from Arizona to Craig to be closer to other family members. Malley, being new to the area, was looking for a way to meet new people. She heard about the Special Olympics and decided to compete. What started as something just for fun, she said, created lifelong hobbies and great friendships.
This year’s mild winter on the Western Slope may have affected skiers, but golfers can take comfort in the lack of snow. The Yampa Valley Golf Course, which usually doesn’t open until April, is scheduled to be open to all golfers at 10 a.m. Friday. “Last year we were only open 12 days between April and May, so it affected our financials,” golf professional Jason Back said. “We lost some of our play from Steamboat Springs and we are hoping to see more of those players this year by opening early and make up our losses from last season.”
As the collegiate men’s basketball postseason tournament gets underway this week, the Moffat County Youth Basketball program will be hosting its own annual competition. The Yampa Valley Classic youth basketball tournament tips off at 8 a.m. Saturday and continues Sunday, with games taking place at Moffat County High School, Craig Middle School and Sandrock Elementary School. The tournament is scheduled to include 35 teams from the Western Slope, Grand Junction, Utah and Wyoming.
Garrett Spears rode a late season surge last year to reach the 4A state track and field meet in the shot put event. Spears, a Moffat County High School senior, went from ranked outside the top 20 to taking sixth at state in a matter of a couple weeks during his junior season This year, however, Spears said he wanted to get to his peak form as soon as possible. The MCHS varsity track and field team opened the season with a pair of meets on the Front Range — the Ralston Valley Relays Friday in Lakewood and the Boulder Invitational Saturday in Boulder.
The Moffat County High School girls varsity golf players faced their usual early-season woes in the first tournament of the year March 5 in Grand Junction. But on Friday, the Bulldog golfers had a chance to help each other out in the Delta Invitational at Devil’s Thumb Golf Course. In a break from the normal format, the Delta Invitational was set up as a two-person scramble, with the six MCHS golfers split into three teams to play the par-72 course. Senior Sam Fox and sophomore Caitlin Harjes led the way for the Bulldogs with a round of 90.
Anita Reynolds said the Moffat County High boys varsity swimming team intended to use Saturday’s Grand Junction Relays meet as an early season warm-up. Instead, the Bulldogs swimmers came out of the starting gate strong, coming within seconds of qualifying two relays for state as well as seeing solid performances from some new swimmers. Moffat County took fourth out of five teams at Colorado Mesa University, but with a team of only seven swimmers, Reynolds, the Bulldogs coach, said it was more about experience than team placing.
Harry Tripp said little things will make or break the Moffat County High School girls varsity soccer team this season. On Thursday, the Bulldogs fell short at Central Grand Junction, with missed passes and miscommunication on defense resulting in a 1-0 loss. Despite another close loss Saturday at Delta High School, Harry, the Bulldogs head coach, said his team is making the right improvements. More miscommunication between the defense and junior goalie Skylar Tripp resulted in a second half goal en route to a 2-0 victory for Delta.
The Moffat County High School girls varsity soccer team’s rust became apparent early in the first half of Thursday’s season-opening game at Central Grand Junction High School. As Central set up for a free kick outside the penalty box, the Bulldogs rushed around to get their wall set up, all the while talking back and forth with goalie Skylar Tripp. The Warriors didn’t waste any time in taking advantage of the Bulldogs confusion, sneaking the ball past Skylar’s hands for the only goal of the game, beating Moffat County, 1-0.
Tyler Hildebrandt enjoyed success in the first month of the Moffat County High School boys varsity basketball team’s season. As the first man coming off the bench, Hildebrandt, an MCHS junior, relieved the Bulldogs two post players, seniors Andy Browning and Jacob Scroggs. Head coach Eric Hamilton said Hildebrandt did his job, filling in for the two starters when needed and contributing on both sides of the court. However, in a Jan. 13 loss to Eagle Valley, Scroggs left the game with a foot injury and was forced to sit out the rest of the season.
Alfredo Lebron returned to Craig from Garden City, Kan., in early January with a letter and an important decision to make. The letter, issued from Garden City Community College, outlined all the scholarships Lebron would receive if he committed to run cross-country and track for the school starting in the fall. Lebron, a Moffat County High School senior, wouldn’t have to pay a dime for school if he ran for the Broncbusters, but he had always saw himself competing for a Division I school. Yet, it took him a week to think about it before he signed on the dotted line and mailed the letter back in, signaling his intent to run for the college.