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Young Craig bowlers rolling their way to state after regional successes

Wherever they may be rolling along to in the weeks to come, you can bet Craig kids will be doing it with focus and determination.

Craig will send five bowlers to the state round of the Pepsi Youth Tournament in April in Longmont following a successful session on their home lanes this past weekend at Thunder Rolls Bowling Center for the Western region round of the event.

Placing first and second, respectively, in the boys 20 and under division, Trenton Hillewaert and Trevor Miller rolled a 1035 and a 1012 across six games to qualify for the next round.

While Hillewaert had his best go in the fifth game with a 204, Miller started strong with a 215 in the first.

For boys 17 and under, Cody Lewis earned third place and picked up a total 1054 for the weekend as part of his first year bowling competitively.

“Learning how to use two hands has been the toughest part,” he said, noting that considering the upcoming roll is far different than simply tossing the ball down the alley as quickly as possible.

Though his tournament tallies ranged from 132 to 221 during the weekend, Lewis happened on a perfect game during a practice session this week, hitting every bowler’s dream of a 300 score.

For boys 12 and under, Andrew Duran took second with a six-game run of 770.

“The toughest part is concentrating,” he said.

Rounding out the state qualifiers who Aveory Lighthizer, who finished as the runner-up in the 15U girls division with an 857.

Lighthizer’s mother, Anna Martinez, is one of the coaches for Craig’s youth bowling team, with 31 local youths part of the regional event.

“That’s the most kids we’ve had in a long time,” she said, adding that about 70 kids have been part of the youth leagues this season.

Her son, Zander Martinez, was among the youngest competitors over the weekend, the top finisher for boys under 10, scoring 678. For bowlers under 12, the tournament is referred to as Youth Generation.

“Kids are really building up a lot of confidence,” she said. “It’s about learning the bowling, but also it’s about the courtesy and working as a team. We work a lot on that bonding, and it helps them have more fun and be more confident. It’s really fortunate that we’re able to host a tournament here because it’s good for the kids and brings more people into Craig.”

Some bowlers have been on the lanes half their lives, while others are still in their first year.

“I’ve gotten a lot better since I started,” said Conner Perkins, who placed fourth in the 20U boys division. “When I started, I was just a straight bowler, but now I can curve it a lot more.”

LeeAnna Nelson has been in the sport for four years, taking seventh among girls 17 and younger.

“I could have done a little better,” she said. “My fifth game really went my way. Learning a new oil pattern and meeting new people, that was my favorite part.”

Chris Runyan served as organizer and sargent-at-arms for the regional event in Craig, which also featured young bowlers from Rifle, El Jebel, Grand Junction and more. She also works with other youth tournaments across the state, including the South region in Colorado Springs and Metro in Greeley.

She hopes to see kids from Craig go all the way to the Junior Gold Nationals in Detroit, with the hope that some of the new challenges at each level — including oil patterns on the lanes — will sink in for athletes new and returning.

“If you’re going to compete against thousands of kids in Detroit, you’d better know how to bowl,” she said. “I love seeing these kids do well.”

Moffat County wrestlers take awards for work on mat, in classroom

The Moffat County High School wrestling program pinned down a date for its awards banquet March 15, bestowing honors on athletes for all their hard work throughout the winter.

Awards for exceptional season went to several of the Bulldogs, including freshmen Ryan Duzik, Colton Jones, Pepper Rhyne and Kalub West, sophomores Blake Juergens and Brock Hartung, and seniors Greg Hixson and Isiaih Herod, the latter of whom also took the prize of most pins.

Hixson and Herod also accepted the Senior Singlet Award for their time in the program.

Special thanks went to managers Tiana Nichols and Mati Fredrickson.

Among a roster full of first-year high school grapplers, Hunter Fredrickson earned Outstanding Freshman of the Year, while Most Improved went to Caden Call and Hardest Worker for Daniel Cruz.

Coaches also honored their four state qualifiers: Hunter Fredrickson, Anthony Duran and White, as well as Daniel Caddy, who placed fourth overall in the 138-pound bracket at the February tournament to end the season.

Wrestlers were also acknowledged for their work in the classroom, with White and Hixson receiving Academic All-State Honorable Mention, while Caddy attained First Team status for the team’s highest grade point average at 4.14.

Coach Dusty Vaughn also provided Caddy with the Outstanding Wrestler of the Year award for a standout season.

Moffat County Elite Cheer makes some noise at high-level competition

Craig kids had a good reason to be in good spirits, and not just because it’s kind of their job.

The members of the Moffat County Elite Cheer program came off the floor of Cheersport’s Denver Grand Championship heads held highly as the Northwest Colorado crew proved the Elite name was more than just a title.

The program’s Diamond Elite Mini team won its age division during the event, held March 10 at Loveland’s Budweiser Event Center.

The Diamond Elite Junior cheerleaders faced heavy competition in their age group, placing fourth of five teams.

“It has been such a joy watching these girls go all the way to Denver and represent our amazing town of Craig, Colorado. I love our town and the little athletes that come from it,” said coach Amber Snow.

The teams will compete this weekend in Denver during the Aloha International Spirit Championships, an event Craig has won while under the former name Moffat County Thunder Cheer.

Elite Cheer also competed earlier this year at America’s Best Cheer Competition, during which the Junior group took fourth.

Snow coaches the program, which includes 26 total kids, along with Curtis Lorio.

“It’s been a successful year,” Lorio said. “The kids have improved so much in their counts, their tumbling and their jumps.”

Lorio noted he oversees most of the physical elements, having experience coaching gymnastics and working in personal training.

While he helps athletes strengthen muscles, Snow works with them on the choreography side.

“It’s a really good dynamic. We make a good team,” he said. “We’re having such a good time, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to take over this job.’

Snow said she credits much of the recent success to team parents who offer endless support.

“We have the most supportive parents encouraging us the whole way. What a blessing to work with such amazing kids and to coach with my best friends,” Snow said.

Northwest Colorado Mule Deer Foundation banquet serves up fun April 27

Northwest Colorado Chapter of Mule Deer Foundation hosts its annual banquet April 27 at Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion, 640 E. Victory Way.

Doors open at 4 p.m. with dinner at 6 p.m. Among the menu items are a roast pig, brisket, wings and shrimp.

The night includes drawings, games, door prizes and live and silent auctions.

Tickets are available at Northwest Pawn or Craig Chamber of Commerce.

Proceeds benefit mule deer and black-tailed deer and their habitat.

For more information and ticket prices, call Mike McQuay at 970-629-3292 or visit muledeer.org.

Yampa Valley Golf Course hosting men’s club meeting as site aims for April opening

The grounds are still recovering from recent late winter weather, but the regulars of Yampa Valley Golf Course are looking ahead to spring and summer.

Yampa Valley Men's Golf Club will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 4 at YVGC for the first meeting of the season.

The evening will include election of officers and dinner for all members who have paid 2019 dues.

The men's club is seeking new members, whether new to the sport or a longtime duffer. Applications are available from the pro shop or at the meeting.

Course pro Jeff Harnasch said YVGC is still in the midst of preparing for a new season, with a tentative goal of opening for play in early April as weather permits.

The pro shop is currently open for business with hours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Last year’s apparel and equipment are on sale as the shop brings in new inventory.

The course will be running an early bird special for membership through the end of March. Rates for the season are available at yampavalleygolf.com.

For more information on club membership or course status, call 970-824-FORE (3673).

Moffat County baseball starts season after delays: Bulldog Sports — Week of March 20, 2019




5 p.m. Bad Dogs Elite Wrestling registration at Moffat County High School, 900 Finley Lane




8:30 a.m. Craig Middle School wrestling at Rocky Mountain Nationals Region 5 Tournament in Montrose


3:30 p.m. Youth Bowling League at Thunder Rolls Bowling Center, 990 Industrial Ave.


1 p.m. Moffat County High School girls golf at Palisade
5:30 p.m. Craig Middle School track and field parents meeting at CMS, 915 Yampa Ave.
6 p.m. Craig Parks and Recreation adult volleyball at Sandrock Elementary School, 201 E. Ninth St.


3 p.m. Moffat County High School varsity baseball at Steamboat Springs
5 p.m. Moffat County High School junior varsity baseball at Steamboat Springs
5:30 p.m. Craig Parks and Recreation kindergarten, first- and second- grade boys youth basketball at Sunset Elementary School, 800 W. Seventh St.

Moffat County’s Kinlie Brennise has final hoops outing in All-State game

Moffat County High School’s Kinlie Brennise, back row second from left, was among 16 3A athletes to compete in the All-State basketball games hosted by Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports.

With one last chance to wear the Bulldog blue, Moffat County High School senior basketball player Kinlie Brennise made the most of every moment in the past weekend.

Kinlie was named to the All-State game hosted in Denver by Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports.

Kinlie played for the blue team in the event, hosted Sunday by Arvada West High School, part of a 75-71 win in the exhibition match honoring upperclassmen in the 3A division.

“It was definitely a great experience. I had so much fun,” she said. “It’s something I’ve been working for my whole high school career, and it finally paid off. I was super blessed to be a part of it.”

The blue team was headed by Manitou Springs coaches Jessie Black and Justin Armour, the latter of whom has a professional football past, including being part of the Denver Broncos roster for Super Bowl XXXIII.

With eight players on each squad, Kinlie — nicknamed “8 seconds” by Armour for her rodeo proficiency — played alongside Courtney Freeman, of fellow Western Slope League team Cedaredge, while on the other end was WSL Player of the Year Shaya Chenoweth, of Grand Valley.

The weekend also included a Saturday banquet, with MCHS coach Jim Loughran in attendance to support his athlete.

Moffat County High School’s Kinlie Brennise and coach Jim Loughran gather during the banquet for Colorado Coaches of Girls Sports’ All-State basketball games.

Though he has only worked with Kinlie for one season, L0ughran said multiple coaches in the conference have noted her strengths on the court.

“She definitely brought a lot of senior leadership this season,” he said.

MCHS girls finished the winter 17-6, runner-up in the WSL during the regular season and third in the district tournament before moving into the opening round of the state tourney, where Lady Bulldogs fell 50-41 to University.

During a recent awards ceremony for the program, Kinlie and teammate Halle Hamilton each took All-Conference First Team honors, with Madie Weber, Tiffany Hildebrandt and Quinn Pinnt earning All-Conference Honorable Mention.

Kinlie, Hildebrandt, Weber, Jaidyn Steele and Brittnee Meats each had Academic All-State distinctions.

Loughran also continued former coach Kenley Nebeker’s tradition of HARASS, which emphasizes players’ formidable traits.

Moffat County High School’s Halle Hamilton received honors in the Steals, Sixth Man and Assists categories of Lady Bulldog basketball’s HARASS awards.

Stephenie Swindler took the Hustle award and Hildebrandt Armor and Rebounds. Hamilton, also the team’s top scorer as a freshman and leader in multiple stat categories, was the recipient of Steals, Assists, and Sixth Man titles.

Weber gained HARASS Player of the Year for her all-around style throughout the year.

Moffat County High School’s Madie Weber was named HARASS Player of the Year for the Lady Bulldogs.

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5 Craig Middle School wrestlers take titles at district tourney

With three consecutive district wins, the Craig Middle School wrestling program was looking for No. 4 Saturday at the Western Slope Championships, and though the streak came to an end, the individual honors were many.

CMS grapplers took second as a group during the district tournament in Meeker, a mere four points behind the hosting Cowboys at 252 to Meeker’s 256.

Still, the Bulldogs ended the day with five district champs and 13 on the roster placing in the top four of their weights.

Go for the gold

First place went to Colt Call (85 pounds), Kaden Hixson (90), Brody Wiser (95), Billy Lawton (155) and Blake Hill (165), all of whom went undefeated Saturday.

At 3-0, Call earned pins against Gypsum Creek and Hayden opponents before a 6-4 decision over Soroco’s Larhae Whaley, while Hixson took a quick first-period pin to begin the day before racking up the points in back-to-back technical falls of 15-0 and 16-0 against Gypsum Creek’s Logan Aoki and Steamboat Springs’ Cole Muhme to take the final win.

After receiving runner-up at the past two tourneys, Wiser fought his way to the top of the podium this week, starting with a 4-0 win against Zander Saunders of Meeker. A 49-second pin of Steamboat’s John Bene followed, as did an 8-0 major decision over Gypsum’s Cole Good.

He wrapped with a fall over Soroco’s Hac Louthan in 36 seconds.

Lawton won each bout by pin, starting with Hayden’s Nathan York with 21 seconds ticks of the clock. Lawton felled teammate Adam Delay to get to the last round, where he pinned Soroco’s Bradley Hoskinson late in the first period.

Hill was paired exclusively with Meeker opponents for the day. He earned an 8-3 victory against Judd Harvey, after that pinning Cowboys Bryan Burris and Hayden Shults.

Until the final match

With the heavyweight championship bout the final one of the day, CMS’s big man, Alex Reno, had some added pressure, going against the Cowboys’ Tanner Musser.

After three straight pins against Gypsum and Steamboat foes to get him to the finals, Reno was ready to go as the two went at it for three periods.

Then four rounds of overtime.

The high-stakes match had to end eventually, and an official’s call against Reno for locked hands was what gave it to Musser as the Bulldog took the silver.

Also placing second in their weights were Zach Hedman (105), Ian Hafey (145), and Hunter Faulk (180).

For Hedman, it was a pin and a 15-2 MD that got him up against Gypsum’s Logan Stephens, who claimed his own MD at 13-2.

In a sparse bracket, Hafey had a narrow 9-8 defeat to Meeker’s Dagon Dade to start, but he needed little time to recover with pins of West Grand’s Joseph Torres at 21 seconds and Rangely’s Kasen LeBleu at 32.

Faulk mowed through his first three opponents with falls over Gypsum, Meeker and Rangely, though he met his match in the finals, pinned by Hayden’s Jake Lindley.

Bulldog bronze

Three third-place medals went to Craig — Noah Duran (80), Tyren Schaefer (100), and Cesar Quezada (120), all of whom lost in the championship semifinals only to triumph in the back brackets.

Duran took three pins for the day, winning 8-5 in the consolation finals against Hayden’s Ethan Silva.

Schaefer had a 3-1 stretch that included two pins before he went 5-0 against CMS teammate Zane Durham. Quezada likewise got two kids on their backs and was paired with teammate Brendon Wait to end the day, taking the 5-4 win.

At 3-2 in the event, Durham had two falls and an 11-1 MD. Wait was 2-2 with both wins by fall to gain fourth.

Also placing fourth were Delay; Ryan Booker (105) 2-2, two pins; Keegan Herod (110), 3-2, two pins; and Memphis Herndon, 2-3, two pins.

Finishing the regular season for the Bulldogs were Emmalee Carey (95), Treyson Carlson (95), Kaleb Duzik (95), Stone Balleck (110), Osbaldo Quintana (110), Aron Alcantar (115), and Kannon Gustin (115).

Though the season is done for CMS, wrestlers also have the option to keep competing in coming weeks through Rocky Mountain Nationals, with regional events taking place March 23.

Moffat County track aims big at Rifle Invite, led by Bulldog relays

With far more competition compared to their first meet, Moffat County High School track and field athletes didn’t slow down in their second week, building on their strong points, setting new benchmarks and picking up a couple first-place distinctions in the process.

MCHS girls took fourth and boys seventh in Friday’s Rifle Invitational, which saw the Bulldog teams amid 21 schools, gaining wins in the girls 4×200-meter relay and boys 4×100 relay.

After winning the 100 dash at last week’s Fruita Monument Early Bird Meet, Stephenie Swindler started off the 4×2, handing off to Halle Hamilton for the next leg of the half-mile relay.

Abby Bohne took the baton for the third, with Emaleigh Papierski bringing it home to finish at 1:51.37 for the gold in their first time in the event this season.

The same group also took on the 800 sprint medley relay, gaining third at 2:00.78.

With the boys 4×2 race in Rifle seeing multiple disqualifications, one of which was the MoCo crew, the Dogs recovered in the 4×1.

Jared Atkin, AJ Barber, Kevin Hernandez and Victor Silva clocked in at 46.14 to make their first entry in the quarter-mile relay this season.

Atkin also took second in the boys 110 hurdles (15.91), with Hamilton getting the silver in the girls 400 dash (1:02.6).

Also taking second off the track, Swindler was runner-up in the girls long jump (15 feet, 6 inches) while Abbe Adams entered the high jump mix, tying for No. 2 with a height of 4′ 10″.

For the boys field bunch, Hernandez repeated as the bronze recipient in the long jump (18′ 5″), and Jesse Earle added more than 12 feet to his previous week’s discus throw, hitting 134′ 5″ to place third.

Earle also took fourth for points in the shot put, as did Caylah Million in the girls discus and Papierski in both the long jump and 400, narrowly behind third-place Swindler in the latter with a one-hundredth second difference.

Barber gained fifth in the boys 400, while Jones tied for sixth in the girls high jump, Hamilton took seventh in the girls 200, as did Tiffany Hildebrandt in the girls discus, and Sean Byers rounded out the Moffat County point count with eighth in the boys long jump.

Bulldog tracksters will be out of competition during MoCo’s spring break, with varsity athletes next attending Grand Junction’s Mickey Dunn Invite and JV headed to Meeker, both on March 29.

Moffat County soccer runs past Rifle

Even if there’s no end in sight for winter weather, Moffat County High School girls soccer remains in spring mode.

MCHS girls took their second victory within a week with a 2-1 win Tuesday on the road against Rifle.

The Bulldogs took control against the Bears, with scoring by Tressa Otis and Brynlee Williams and nine saves by Bailey Lawton in goal.

Moving to 2-1 in the early season record, the Dogs will seek another W Friday as they travel — weather pending — to Grand Junction to face Carbondale’s Colorado Rocky Mountain School.

With the following week spring break for MCHS, the team is scheduled to host its first home game March 28 against Grand Valley, providing field conditions in Craig are suitable by then.

The Bulldog home field has remained covered in snow, preventing outdoor practices and keeping players working in the gym.

Even so, coach Nathalie Boelen said she has seen a roster ready to work in her first year with the Bulldog girls program following a fall in which she coached the boys team.

The team’s young talent is balanced with an abundance of seniors, eight total, including Lawton, Yoselin Cordero-Alcantar, Jackie Barraza, Trinitie Beckner, Larissa Gonzales, Ebawnee Smercina, Terry Gillett and Naomi Magallanes.

“Considering we have had zero touches on an actual grass field, they have played well,” she said. “We have spent time in practice working on positioning, shifting to cover, and switching. The girls are working together well and adjusting to a new coaching style.”