Year in review: Moffat County 2022 sports
The calendar is almost up for 2022, and looking back on the past 12 months, there have been quite a few big moments for local athletes. This is the first piece in a two-part series recapping some of the most notable moments in Moffat County sports in 2022.
Race to the end
It was close as could be to state qualification back in February for the members of the Bulldog girls swim team.
The Class 3A Southwest Conference Championships was the highlight of the schedule for the squad even if it was also an earlier ending than they wanted.
The 200-yard freestyle relay group of Vivian Brown, Wagner Brown, Sarah Johnson, and Megan Neton placed 13th and finished at 1:59.01, just a few seconds short of state during the league finals.
The same formation also set a season best in the 400 free preliminaries at 4:32.48, with Wagner Brown leading off the 200 medley relay team that included Kate Lockwood, Morgan Schacht and Jayden Hill at 2:17.57.
The Bulldogs also set season bests in nearly every event during the conference championships as well.
The 2021-22 schedule went well for Bulldog wrestling, to be sure, but among their biggest accomplishments was taking the team title at the 3A Region 1 Tournament just before Valentine’s Day.
They won in points thanks to nearly everyone on the roster placing in the top six, including regional championships for then-seniors Caden Call, Ryan Duzik, and Pepper Rhyne and junior Michael Voloshin, sending 10 wrestlers to the subsequent state tournament.
Voloshin and Rhyne made it as far as the semifinals, and Rhyne placed third in the 170-pound class, while Voloshin took fourth in 160s. Also, Kaden Hixson placed at state for the third consecutive year and earned fourth place in 120s, and Anthony Duran finished sixth in 126s.
History in the making
It was a strong season for Moffat County wrestling all around, as Makaela Simpson became the first female grappler from MCHS to make it on the state podium. Competing with the Soroco Rams alongside several Craig athletes, Simpson placed fourth at the regional tournament. She went 4-2 at state in the 185-pound class in her first year in high school wrestling — and placed fifth with a pin over the same opponent she defeated at regionals.
The 18-and-under team for Craig Youth Hockey Association was putting plenty of miles on the odometer with home games a rarity in early 2022. The season ended 3-11-2 as part of a competitive Colorado Recreational Hockey League subset, which finished in late February with a playoff game against Littleton.
In what would be their final match of the schedule, Ryan Booker, Clay Durham and Brant Gutierrez all picked up a goal with assists from Garrett Anson, Logan Durham, Zane Durham, Forrest Siminoe and Garret Stockman. Goalie Dylan Herndon earned 32 saves in the 4-3 loss.
After several years of struggling, the Moffat County boys basketball team capped off its 2021-22 schedule with the postseason appearance the Bulldogs have been missing. The 13-9 record was the Dogs’ first winning season since 2015, and their first entry into the latter stages of the 3A Western Slope League district tournament in just as long.
After finishing third in the league, MoCo fell to Delta in the district semifinals and narrowly lost in an overtime game to Coal Ridge that finished 53-51. The Dogs moved into the 3A state rounds, falling 67-56 to Colorado Academy in early March during a game that also saw then-senior Ryan Peck score a personal best 20 points. Peck also led the league in rebounds with 193.
The Bulldogs girls basketball also had a strong season, finishing 14-9 and second in their conference, losing only to perennial champs Delta in league play.
After a good win streak, MoCo girls hit a rough patch in the playoffs with losses to Grand Valley and North Fork. Moffat headed into the state brackets matched with Colorado Springs Christian, which bested the Dogs 61-44. Among the highlights for the Bulldogs were Rylie Felten leading the league in blocks (25) and Lizzy LeWarne doing the same in rebounds (220), while Halle Hamilton picked up All-State honorable mention after leading the team in scoring, assists and steals.
As the defending Western Slope League champions, Moffat County baseball had a lot to live up to from the previous season. A tough conference combined with several changes in the program didn’t make it any easier in 2022, yet MoCo wound up in the postseason, nonetheless.
At 11-11 overall, the Dogs were given an opportunity to avenge the loss that stopped their previous season short with a May rematch against Colorado Academy, which defeated Moffat County in the 2021 playoffs. Ultimately, the Mustangs made off with another win, 11-4 this time, but it was against a team that was no less formidable than it was a year earlier.
Ryan Peck led the league in batting average (.636) and slugging percentage (1.218), and he hit five home runs with 35 hits and 25 RBIs to gain All-State honorable mention.
Dive right in
The boys swimming team had a small roster in 2022, and each of the five athletes were in their first year on the team. Even so, MoCo was in the mix at state with Steamboat Springs’ Tyler Stone and Stovin Briggs hitting the water for the Dogs. Briggs took 26th in the 100-meter butterfly (58.52) and 35th in the 200 freestyle (1:58.7), with Stone 28th in the 500 free (5:31.5).
Back at the big time
Representing MoCo girls golf at May’s Class 3A state tournament, Reagan Hafey tied for 50th with an overall two-day score of 205, and Taylor Powell tied for 79th at 239, the second year at state for each golfer. While she struggled on the state course a bit, Hafey hit a personal best during the qualifying regional tourney, placing third at 89 strokes, whereas Powell overcame missing several weeks of the season to score 114 and finish 19th.
Keep on tracking
After winning the gold in two events in 2021, Moffat County track was ready to do it all over again at the Class 3A state championships. Though the Bulldogs didn’t step to the top platform of the podium, they showed their fortitude in other ways.
Despite missing much of the season due to injury, Logan Hafey was primed to reclaim a state title in the 300-meter hurdles — an event in which he holds the school record — only to catch his foot on the final hurdle and hit the ground just before the finish line. He maneuvered himself over the finish line to save second place.
Hafey also served as the anchor in the 4×400 relay, as he and teammates Evan Atkin, Andrew Duran and Jimi Jimenez went from not expecting to place to earning sixth in the event. Likewise, the MoCo girls were hoping to keep a streak going after winning state in the 4×200 race in 2019 and 2021.
It didn’t quite happen — Mikah Vasquez, Antonia Vasquez, Emma Jones and Halle Hamilton finished third — but the foursome of Mikah Vasquez, Jones, Hamilton and Lizzy LeWarne earned a season best in the 4×400, barely behind Coal Ridge with a result that was far better than they expected.
With Jones taking seventh in the high jump, Hamilton medaled in every event she competed in, with season bests in the 200 and 400 dash, placing fourth and third, respectively.
Days later, Hafey and Hamilton also picked up Moffat County’s top honors for student-athletes, with Hafey earning the Dude Dent Memorial Award and Hamilton Outstanding Female Athlete.
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