Top 10 Moffat County sports moments of 2017 — Part 1
The hours of practice put into sports by Bulldog athletes is immeasurable, as are the blood, sweat and tears that go into their dedication to their physical pursuits. Even so, there were a handful of Moffat County High School moments that stood out during 2017, and the following are the top 10 events that defined their year, presented in two segments.
A superb 2016-17 season altogether for MCHS wrestlers was best glimpsed in their penultimate event, February’s 3A Region 1 Tournament in Buena Vista.
The Dogs won the meet outright as a team, as well as picking up an individual regional title for Miki Klimper in the 170-pound class. Hugo Hernandez, Elias Peroulis and Chris Moschetti all took second, while Karson Cox, Daniel Caddy, Drake Zimmerman and Toryn Hume all placed to move on to state, the eight of them the greatest number of athletes Moffat County has sent to that level in years.
Klimper finished the year second in his weight and a 3A All-State Second Team honoree, Peroulis took 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.
The 2017-18 season began positively under new leadership by head coach Dennis Fredrickson, including the Warrior Classic, in which Klimper placed second, Peroulis fourth and Caddy fifth. All three grapplers go into 2018 ranked among the top four wrestlers in their weights, with the MCHS squad eighth among 3A teams.
MCHS hoops teams had their resolve tested at different points in the past 12 months.
For the girls, the highlight of the 2016-17 season came during the district tournament among 3A Western Slope League teams.
The Lady Bulldogs came up short in their efforts to defend their league title, as losses to Grand Valley and Cedaredge placed them third in the conference during the regular schedule. However, players shed that disappointment come districts, dealing Cedaredge a 49-42 blow to move on to the championship round of the tourney.
The game against the Cardinals would determine whether MCHS girls would move on to a home game for the postseason, and for the fifth consecutive year the Lady Dogs secured the home court advantage for the playoffs.
Grand Valley kept the game deliberately slow only for Moffat County to shake things up late in the first half courtesy of a game-deciding steal by Mattie Jo Duzik with a meager 14-12 lead at halftime that the Bulldogs were able to ride to a 40-34 win.
Duzik’s defensive performance in the game was such that coach Kenley Nebeker noted her always keeping her hands up when speaking on her behalf for the Outstanding Female Athlete award, which she went on to win.
MCHS girls hoops is off to another good start this winter, 5-2 going into the winter break, finishing third in Meeker’s White River Electric Cowboy Shootout and second in the Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out.
What a kick
An 0-14 season in 2016 could have cast a pallor over the MCHS girls soccer squad this spring, and to be sure, the group had their struggles at 2-13. But, one of those wins meant the world to players with a 2-0 victory in April against Vail Christian, their first win on home turf since 2015.
An early attack by Makenna Baker got the girls on the board, but it was an all-around team effort that kept the Saints from making any progress, including a standout game in goal by Thalia Carbajal.
The matchup was one of the best the team had ever played even with a cold streak at home, said then-coach Harry Tripp.
“They played their hearts out and did it just how we wanted — the first five minutes dictates the game,” he said.
In the fall, Rusty Cox took on the reins for the boys soccer program from Tripp, with the Bulldogs likewise seeing a tough outcome, also 2-13. Like the girls, a silver lining for the boys team came with a shutout win at home, 3-0 against Colorado Rocky Mountain School.
Another solid spring for MCHS track and field was full of many great moments for runners and jumpers, but it was out in the field where the Bulldogs saw their biggest achievement of the year.
Keenan Hildebrandt went into the Moffat County record books with a 170-foot discus throw to win the event as part of the 3A Western Slope Leagues Meet in May.
The length toss soared past a 1995 MCHS best of 167’ 2” set in 1995 by Ben Hough.
“I feel like God really blessed me there, and all the hard work and extra time I’ve put in has paid off,” said Hildebrandt, who also repeated as the conference champ in the shot put and later went on to win the Lewis “Dude” Dent Memorial Award and sign with Kansas State University track.
Miki Klimper also placed first in the league meet’s 300-meter hurdles to give the Bulldog boys a second-place team finish, with coach Todd Trapp named 3A WSL Coach of the Year.
A spring snowstorm later in the month made the state championships a two-day weekend event, which shook up some competitors. Bulldogs soldiered on despite schedule changes, as Hildy took third in shot and fourth in discus, Morgan Nelson also taking fourth for girls in the latter.
Other state placers included Klimper fifth in hurdles, Riley Allen seventh for the 1,600 run, and girls relay teams: 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.
The 2018 state finals for Colorado State High School Rodeo Association will be back in Craig this coming May, but the bigger news of the past year was victories at CSHSRA’s Memorial Day state event for Craig siblings Kasen and Kinlie Brennise.
Kasen picked up a championship in the tie down roping event to qualify for the national round, while Kinlie was named All-Around Cowgirl and went to nationals in barrel racing and goat tying.
The two also went to nationals for team roping, their skills put to good use over the summer as part of the Bloomer Trailers team.
The Moffat County team, a collective of Northwest Colorado communities, also saw Yampa’s Jace Logan earn a state belt buckle for steer wrestling, while Hayden’s Keenan Hayes cleaned up at the junior high state round, winning the season’s bull riding, saddle bronc and bareback steer events.
The past spring and summer also saw Craig’s Donnie Quick and Amber Salazar make it to junior high nationals via Wyoming, with third- and fourth-place finishes at the state level in chute dogging and pole bending, respectively. During the Fourth of July, Pepper Rhyne earned a World Champion title for National Little Britches Rodeo Association, winning boys junior flag racing.
As the CSHSRA circuit began again this fall, the Brennises started the new season strong, leading the rankings in tie down and breakaway roping, while Logan is second in steers and Hayes is second in saddle bronc and bareback.