Top 10 Moffat County sports moments of 2016-17 — Part 2
The Craig Daily Press continues its list of the top 10 moments of the 2016-17 Moffat County High School year in sports.
MCHS boys basketball struggled throughout the winter season, finishing with a 4-16 record despite players’ best efforts. Still, athletes consistently showed a sense of sportsmanship, best demonstrated in a February C-Team game against Battle Mountain.
Player James DeWald, who is hearing-impaired, was on the floor against the Huskies and teammates were determined to feed him the ball for him to score his first official basket.
The opportunity came late in the game, but once it did, the response from the crowd was earsplitting as DeWald sunk a layup bucket, the energy led by the Bulldog bench, as well as the varsity players who were in the stands watching their younger comrades, showing the kind of support one can expect from those wearing blue and white.
Moffat County wrestling boasted one of its best seasons in recent years, one which included a regional team championship for the high school Bulldogs, as well as an individual regional title for Miki Klimper and runner-up honors for Hugo Hernandez, Elias Peroulis and Chris Moschetti, all of whom went on to the state level, as well as Karson Cox, Daniel Caddy, Drake Zimmerman and Toryn Hume.
Klimper went on to place second in the 170-pound class at state — a 3A All-State Second Team honoree — Peroulis fourth in 182 and the team 10th overall.
The Bulldogs also earned an academic award from Colorado High School Activities Association for the highest collective grade point average among 3A teams.
Future MCHS grapplers also made a name for themselves with a dominating season for Craig Middle School wrestlers, as Kaden Hixson, Brody Wiser, Colton Jones, Dylan Zimmerman, Ryan Duzik, Anthony Duran, Blake Juergens and Joe Neal all gained district titles as part of the Dogs’ team championship at the Western Slope Championships, while Zimmerman and Duran went on to also place first at a Rocky Mountain Nationals regional event, and Zimmerman, Neal and Hixson placed at RMN’s state tourney.
The pressure was on for MCHS girls basketball to follow the success of previous years under the new leadership of Kenley Nebeker, and though the Lady Bulldogs didn’t cruise through the regular season as easily as before, it all came together at the 3A Western Slope League district tournament in Grand Junction.
After avenging a loss to Cedaredge in the semifinals, the team was face-to-face with the school that had snatched away their chance at a WSL title, the Grand Valley Cardinals.
The Cards’ tactics would not work on the Moffat County girls, as an effort to stall the game at midcourt backfired and led to the Bulldogs taking over in the second half, going on to win their fifth straight district championship and a home advantage in the regional round of the state tournament, their postseason run eventually coming to an end at the Sweet 16 with a loss to Pagosa Springs.
Among the group’s accolades was a CHSAA All-State Honorable Mention for Josey King and, later in the year, MCHS’s Outstanding Female Athlete for Mattie Jo Duzik.
Much like wrestling, MCHS girls’ success was also mirrored by the athletes of CMS as girls basketball’s seventh- and eighth-grade squads swept the district tourney with four total wins.
A tribute on the diamond
Bulldog baseball had its share of ups and downs throughout the spring schedule, but it was shortly before the home opener that the team suffered a blow when MCHS graduate and former team manager Clayton Moon was killed in a March 13 car accident near boulder.
A moment of silence and tribute to the beloved Bulldog took place before Moffat County’s March 16 game against Basalt, complete with players and coaches sporting Moon’s initials on their caps throughout the season.
Right on track
Repeating a banner year in 2016 for Moffat County track and field was a tall order, though athletes made their mark in different ways this spring.
Among the most notable accomplishments was a new school record in the boys discus, as Keenan Hildebrandt hit 170 feet for the best throw in 22 years. Hildebrandt won every discus competition of the regular season, including earning Western Slope League titles for the second year in both disc and shot put. Miki Klimper also won a conference title in the boys 300-meter hurdles.
At state, Hildebrandt — who went on to win the Lewis “Dude” Dent Memorial Award and signed to throw for Kansas State University — ranked third in shot and was fourth in discus, as was girls discus thrower Morgan Nelson.
Klimper took fifth in hurdles, Riley Allen seventh in the one-mile run and the relay teams of Emma Samuelson, Mattie Jo Duzik, Josie Timmer, and Stephenie Swindler eighth in the 4×200 and Swindler, Liberty Hippely, Duzik and Abby Bohne ninth in the 4×800.
Earlier in May, CMS track set no fewer than a dozen new records in relay, race and jump events thanks to Thayne Kitchen, Logan Hafey, Norman Cruz, Ryan Duzik, Sean Byers, Joe Campagna, Donnie Quick, Coltyn Terry, Emma Jones, Rylie Felten, Halle Hamilton, Bree Meats, Emaleigh Papierski, Kelsey McDiffett, Reese Weber and Marissa Lindsey proving the kind of potential yet to come for MCHS.