Weekend brings wins for Moffat County rodeo, runners; golfers bring it back home
Whether traveling or on their home grounds, Moffat County athletes maintained their high standards in the past week.
It may not have been the first rodeo for most in the arena at Moffat County Fairgrounds the past weekend, but it certainly felt like the first in a good long while.
And the wait was worth it.
Craig was the site of the return for the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association season as cowboys and cowgirls converged for three days for the year ahead.
As with most sports across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, the spring and summer saw limited events scheduled for the spur and saddle set, which only meant the bunch of them were prepared for big things to come.
The first event at the high school level put Craig’s Katie Jo Knez at the top of the rankings to start the season in goat tying. With a 2019 junior high state championship buckle in the contest adorning her belt, she placed sixth in the Saturday round at 9.79 seconds and second on Sunday — just 0.03 seconds away from the win at 8.6 seconds — to stay comfortably ahead of everyone in total points, a status she’ll look to maintain in the coming weeks.
Taking sixth in the latter round of team roping with Parker’s Brooke Bruner, Knez will look to keep moving upward in the ranks, as well as improving in the breakaway roping.
With only three competitors recording official times in the high school bull riding, Hamilton’s Clay Durham was one of the few to stay seated with second place Saturday and a 61-point ride, ultimately placing third in the category to start the fall.
Tough runs in both the team roping and tie down proved problematic for Craig’s Pepper Rhyne, though the Moffat County High School junior will have more opportunities to come.
At the junior high level, Friday saw Pepper’s sister, Jolene Rhyne, earn a win in the girls goat tying, ultimately placed fifth in the event standings among a powerhouse field. Placing sixth and then seventh in the barrel racing, she also stands at fourth overall in that subset, as well as placing eighth and 10th in the pole bending to put her at fourth in all-around rankings across all events.
With entries in a little bit of everything, Maybell’s Cactus Barnes started the season at fifth in the all-around, a result of placing second in both Friday’s chute dogging and tie down, sixth in both days of boys goat tying, and fifth in Saturday’s ribbon roping.
Craig’s Chance Knez is likewise taking on a wide variety of events, securing third Friday and second place Saturday in the boys breakaway to rank second overall, as well as placing seventh both days in the boys goat tying.
Knez and Hamilton’s Logan Durham — the 2019 state champ — both tackled bull riding during the weekend, but without an official time recorded at the middle school level, the heat is on to see who will be the first to crack the points board.
Though rain persisted off and on at points of the weekend, the team of Moffat County volunteers hardly minded the presence of precipitation.
“I think people were glad to be back to rodeoing, and all of Colorado needs rain so bad, nobody complained about the weather,” said Chris Rhyne, one of many who organized the event at the fairgrounds.
The coming weekend will see CSHSRA athletes travel to Cortez, while the season continues Sept. 19 and 20 in Eagle, wrapping the fall at Latigo Trails at the end of the month before the winter hiatus.
It rarely takes long in the fall season before an MCHS runner takes the gold, and this year is no exception.
Fruita Monument’s Connected Lakes Championships saw a Bulldog win during the two-day set of races at Connected Lakes State Park.
During the Friday boys event, Keaton Knez took first place with a result of 18:14.4.
Though a few seconds behind his mark a week earlier, Knez was nonetheless more than a full minute faster than the second place competitor, Montrose’s Zack Oldroyd.
The Hayden senior would have run for the Dogs in Saturday’s varsity event, coach Todd Trapp said, though Knez was scheduled to take the SAT exam.
Hayden’s Andrew Kleckler placed 20th Friday with Carter Behrman ranking 22nd, while Garrett Mercer and Chase Serio hit the trail for the first time this fall, placing 39 and 45, respectively, to give MoCo boys a fifth place outcome.
MCHS girls also finished fifth in the Friday races, with Alayna Behrman just outside the top 10 at number 11, ending the day at 25:25.3. Mary Willems’ first event this year put her at 29th, followed by Brook Wheeler in 30th, Megan Neton 32nd and Joslyn Bacon at 33.
Saturday saw the varsity girls hit their stride and make significant time cuts from Matchett Park across the board in a fifth-place effort among mostly larger schools.
Trimming 25 seconds off the previous week’s time, Halle Hamilton finished in 12th place and a new result to beat at 21:01.1. Teammate Kelsey McDiffett followed suit with 21:26.8 for a cut of 18 seconds and 17th place.
Emma Jones’ 22:01.2 was nearly 48 seconds speedier from the week before, and Bree Meats knocked off 16 seconds for 24:09.7, but the biggest numerical difference came from Tiana Nichols, bringing her time down by more than 90 seconds to 25:15.3.
For the boys varsity race, a group finish at seventh place was full of personal successes as MoCo’s Logan Hafey surpassed the 20-minute mark to get closer to his personal best as a freshman, running at 19:41 flat at Connected Lakes, placing 32nd.
Hayden’s Kale Johnson narrowly edged out last week’s time at 20:08.6, and Owen Gifford knocked off half a minute at 20:51.7.
MCHS juniors Alex Nichols and Kadin Hume were back in action for the first time this fall to set their times in placements of 46 and 50, while Ian Trevenen placed 48th with a time cut of 35 seconds from Matchett Park.
MCHS cross country will not compete during the Labor Day weekend, though the Bulldogs will be working all the harder in the meantime, preparing for their next big race, Sept. 11 and 12 at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede in Colorado Springs.
Moffat County High School cross country results at Connected Lakes Championships
- Runner Time; Place
- Alayna Behrman 25:25.3; 11
- Mary Willems 29:16.7; 29
- Brook Wheeler 29:30.3; 30
- Megan Neton 30:03.2; 32
- Joslyn Bacon 30:14.1; 33
- Keaton Knez 18:14.4; 1
- Andrew Kleckler 21:51.7; 20
- Carter Behrman 22:11.5; 22
- Garrett Mercer 26:33.1; 39
- Chase Serio 29:06.3; 45
- Halle Hamilton 21:01.1; 12
- Kelsey McDiffett 21:26.8; 17
- Emma Jones 22:01.2; 21
- Bree Meats 24:09.7; 36
- Tiana Nichols 25:15.3; 38
- Logan Hafey 19:41; 32
- Kale Johnson 20:08.6; 40
- Owen Gifford 20:51.7; 44
- Alex Nichols 21:19.6; 46
- Ian Trevenen 22:14.3; 48
- Kadin Hume 23:04; 50
Another week another set of scores for some members of the MCHS boys golf program, while others were getting their first sense of competition in a familiar site.
Tuesday was a relatively quick pop-in for the varsity golfers at Grand Junction’s Central Warrior Invitational, with only three Bulldogs hitting the links among one of the biggest pools of talent yet.
“That’s a fun course and pretty convenient for a lot of schools to go to,” coach Tim Adams said.
Tying for 25th among more than 90 total players, Dave Andujo kept his total steady with a score of 85, breaking even on seven holes and ending with birdies on Holes 12 and 17 of Tiara Rado Golf Course.
Freshman Hudson Jones was back on the links for the first time in weeks, as was junior Ryan Peck, with both of them in the middle of the scoreboard with a 99.
Adams noted that his message of maintaining steady play from week to week has sunk in for most of his varsity athletes.
“I feel like last year, a kid would play really well one tournament then terrible the next, and this year we’re just more consistent, so that will prepare us well for regionals,” he said.
Wednesday brough the action back to Craig during a junior varsity triangular meet at Yampa Valley Golf Course between MCHS, Meeker and Steamboat Springs.
While the Sailors took the win in team and individual totals — 295 for the group, led by junior Logan Spiegel at 96 — the Dogs rounded out the day in second in both counts.
With a 317 final for the squad, MoCo’s Easton Eckroth led the stroke count and tied with Meeker’s Braydon Garcia for the silver with a 98.
Caden Call tied for sixth at 103, while Isaac Vallem earned 12th with 116 for the three lowest Bulldog scores.
In 17th was Catcher Jackson at 130, while Tucker Sterle ranked 19th at 144.
“For a couple of those guys, it’s the first time they’ve played a full 18 holes,” Adams said. “Overall I thought that went well, got some kids the opportunity.”
MCHS golfers won’t rack up too much mileage in the following week. Sept. 8 sees the Dogs tee off in Steamboat at Haymaker while the varsity and JV duffers alike will be back at YVGC the next day for the MCHS Invite.
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Moffat County wrestling will send four wrestlers to the 3A state tournament March 12-13 following an impressive two-day showing at the 3A Region 1 tournament at Pagosa Springs Friday and Saturday.