| AspenTimes.com

Aspen High girls golf sending three players to state tournament in Eagle

Aspen High School senior Zoe Guthrie is about to tee it up for the third time at the state golf tournament, although this one will be a little bit different. Maybe she won’t notice it during her two rounds at Eagle Ranch, but before and after it will certainly be unique having two competing teammates there with her.

“It’s just really cool because it’s the first time in history that AHS has sent a whole girls golf team to state,” AHS junior Hailey Higdon said. “So it’s cool to be a part of that and get to say, ‘Hey, I made it to state.’”

According to AHS girls golf coach Martha Richards, who also happens to be the school’s athletic director, and current AHS boys coach Mary Woulfe, who coached the girls many years ago, this will be the first time in program history that AHS girls golf has sent enough players to state to be able to compete as a team.

The Skiers didn’t actually qualify as a team two weeks ago at regionals, held at Dos Rios Golf Club in Gunnison, but Guthrie, Higdon and fellow junior Avery Hirsch all made the field as individuals, allowing them to compete for a team score at state. The Class 3A tournament gets underway Monday and concludes Tuesday in Eagle, weather permitting.

“I love having Martha around and she’s really tried to bring us all together as more of a team rather than playing as individuals, which I really like,” Guthrie said. “She has helped me develop more technique in my game rather than the basics. It’s been great having her and I’m really happy we are all going together as a team.”

Guthrie was the lone state qualifier for Aspen these past two seasons. She finished 23rd as a sophomore, shooting 47-over 189 (101-88) over the two days. As a junior last spring, Guthrie finished tied for 24th at 43-over (92-93). The 2017 season was the first where there was a Class 3A for girls golf.

Hirsch narrowly missed qualifying for state last spring, but it was really Higdon’s development that helped round out the team. Hailey’s sister, Julia, also wasn’t far off from qualifying for the tournament in Eagle.

“All four of them have made such big contributions this year, and quite honestly Maddie Madril and Tessa Guthrie, they all contributed, as well,” Richards said. “Sometimes the contributions are only seen by the three scores that count, but the stuff that goes on in the background is a big deal. I think it means a lot. I hope what it does is it gives them a great experience, but I hope it also gets all the little girls in town excited about golf, too. That’s probably a big part of this is we want to help grow the game.”

Richards is coaching the team for the first time this spring, having taken over for PGA teaching pro Don Buchholz, who moved to Florida in the fall. Richards certainly has the resume for the job, having been the former head coach at the University of Vanderbilt, where she was the 2004 Golfweek national coach of the year, and later at the University of Texas. She also had a short stint on the LPGA Tour.

What Richards inherited was the challenge of the girls golf season in the mountains. The team essentially didn’t have a home course to play on until around regionals, and Richards had to get creative in finding ways for the players to develop their skills.

“It’s definitely a lot easier to learn how to play golf with a golf course, but the drills do help, definitely, because you get the practice of putting and chipping,” Hailey Higdon said. “There was kind of a shift in the dynamic of how we worked as a team. We started weight training and we practiced every day of the week, so there was more emphasis on practicing. We just became more of a team this year.”

The weather for the two-day tournament in Eagle doesn’t look promising, with a winter weather warning recently being issued for the area. According to a statement by CHSAA, only 18 completed holes will be needed to determine a state champion. With heavy snow possible Monday night, Tuesday’s second round could end up being canceled.

“We can’t control our bounces and stuff like that, but we can control our pre-shot routine and our mental mindset,” Richards said. “I want to see them take the stuff we’ve been working on all season and continue to put it into practice. We’ve spent a lot of time working on pre-shot routine, which is critical in competition because it’s what calms you; it’s what focuses you.”

Guthrie will be the first to tee off Monday with the 9:42 a.m. time slot on the 10th hole. Hirsch (9:51 a.m.) and Higdon (10 a.m.) will follow in succession.

There will be a new individual champion in 3A this season. Holy Family junior Hailey Schalk won the state title each of the past two seasons, but her team moved up to 4A this spring. Colorado Academy will be going for its third straight state championship in 3A. The Mustangs won with a collective 62-over-par over two rounds last spring.

“It’s really exciting,” Hirsch said. “I’m glad I’m going with these two girls that I have become pretty close with. It’s going to be fun.”


Aspen’s Dede Cusimano finished tied for 44th at the 2019 U.S. Senior Women’s Open golf tournament, which concluded Sunday at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in North Carolina.

Cusimano, the 59-year-old who runs her own golf academy at Aspen Golf Club in the summer, was consistent over her four rounds. She shot a 29-over-par 313 for the tournament, with rounds of 78, 79, 79 and 77. Cusimano has played in seven majors over her career, but this was her first at the senior level.

Sweden’s Helen Alfredsson won the tournament by two strokes over Juli Inkster and Trish Johnson, finishing at 1-over. Alfredsson is a two-time U.S. Women’s Open runner-up.


State track Day 3: Aspen’s Ruiz-Vega breaks school record in 100, Basalt’s Bower eighth in mile

A couple more local school records were broken Saturday as the Colorado state high school track and field championships came to a close at Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood.

Aspen High School junior Julisa Ruiz-Vega had the best result of the day by finishing seventh in the girls 100-meter dash. Her time of 12.70 seconds just edged her previous best and is a new school record, according to AHS track coach James Aldridge.

Avery Wright of Montezuma-Cortez won the race with a time of 12.36 seconds.

The only other athlete competing for Aspen on Saturday was senior Nicholas Galambos, who finished 16th in the boys 1,600-meter run in 4 minutes, 46.96 seconds, which was about 11 seconds slower than his qualifying time.

Yasin Sado of Denver West won the boys mile in 4:20.64.

Basalt High School sophomore Sierra Bower competed in the girls 1,600-meter run Saturday, taking eighth in 5:12.58. That time was a personal best for Bower by about two seconds, breaking her own school record.

On Friday, Bower took second in the girls 3,200-meter run, losing in a sprint finish while also breaking her own school record mark. She was also part of the girls 4×800-meter relay that broke that school record on Thursday, finishing fifth. That relay included senior Megan Maley, senior Maddie Ellison and junior Lily Gillis.

BHS junior Ben Williams was the other athlete to compete Saturday, finishing ninth in the 110-meter hurdles. His time of 16 seconds flat broke his own personal record by .16 seconds.


State track Day 2: Basalt sophomore Sierra Bower takes second in 3,200 in sprint finish

Allyson Decatur said sophomore standout Sierra Bower had an extra “kick” she could use at the finish, but no one expected her to need it quite like she did in Friday’s 3,200-meter run on Day 2 of the Colorado state high school track and field championships in Lakewood.

“They both took off in a sprint, which is that kick I was talking about Sierra throwing out there. It was probably a stride and a half at the very end that Kaylee closed,” said Decatur, Basalt High School’s track and field coach. “It was beautifully executed. To get a 17-second PR, school record, is beyond outstanding.”

Unfortunately for Basalt’s Bower, it wasn’t quite enough as Classical Academy senior Kaylee Thompson found that extra stride to edge Bower at the finish line and claim the 3A state championship in the 2-mile race. Thompson finished with a time of 10 minutes, 58 seconds, while Bower came in at 10:58.31.

Third place was another 20-plus seconds behind those two.

“I definitely was not expecting it to come down to the last 200 like that,” Bower said. “I was trying to pump myself up a little bit. I did definitely close pretty hard, looking at my splits. She just barely got me at the end.”

While there may be some disappointment in losing by that narrow of a margin, there certainly won’t be any tears shed. Bower’s 10:58.31 shattered her previous best of 11:15.63, which was already the school record. The only other time she has broken the 11-minute mark in the event came at the Arcadia Invitational, held at sea level in California earlier this spring.

It also shows how far Bower has come in a year. As a freshman last spring, she finished a mere 11th in the 3,200 with a time of 12:08.85.

“Just missing the title by that much definitely motivates me a lot,” Bower said. “I’m definitely really happy about it. My time was good; my placement was good. So I can’t really complain.”

Bower, who also was part of Basalt’s school-record breaking 4×800-meter relay team on Thursday, still has the 1,600-meter run to go Saturday. She is seeded sixth in that race with a time of 5:14.32, already a school record. The race starts at 11:10 a.m.

“They both wanted it just as bad, but to graduate without the state championship, being that close, (Thompson) went for it,” Decatur said of Thompson edging Bower. “(Bower) was pleased and we were all extremely pleased. It was about the PR and going sub-11, and coming in second in the state championship is beyond amazing for a sophomore.”

Maley finishes on podium, Bohannan extends record

BHS senior Megan Maley closed out her high school career by finishing seventh in the 3A girls 800-meter run on Friday. She had a time of 2:20.80, a touch slower than her seed time, where she was seeded third.

Maley also competed in the 400 on Thursday, finishing 15th in the prelim, and was part of the record-breaking 4×800 relay team.

“She gave it her all,” Decatur said. “To have her last time on the track as a high schooler, she felt pretty satisfied with it, and I was, as well. I’m proud to have coached her for four years.”

Maley will now head to Scripps College in Claremont, California, where she plans to continue her running career.

“We were reflecting on my favorite moments at dinner. I’m just really happy,” she said. “I’m not quite finished. I know I can keep competing. I’m excited to be on a big college team. I think I still have room to grow.”

Sophomore Katie Bohannan was the other to compete for Basalt on Friday, taking 11th in the pole vault. This was her first season competing in the event and she cleared 8 feet, 6 inches for the first time at state, extending her own school record.

“It was really fun to compete,” Bohannan said. “A great opportunity. I was pretty nervous, but once I did my first warm up I felt really good.”

Basalt will conclude its state meet Saturday with Bower’s mile and the boys 110-meter hurdles final with junior Ben Williams, who qualified ninth on Thursday. That event starts at 9:50 a.m.

“It’s been an exciting, wonderful, fantastic meet all around,” Decatur said. “I’m extremely proud of all these kids. Every single one of them who has competed has competed with their heart and gave it their all.”

Aspen has strong day, led by Quist

Aspen High School had one of the biggest surprises of the day when junior Paige Quist finished fourth in the 3A girls shot put. Seeded only 11th entering the state meet, she threw for 37 feet, 11.5 inches on Friday to break her personal record of 35-10 by a good distance.

“Paige was a huge surprise,” AHS coach James Aldridge said. “Managed to surprise everybody. She was very happy about it and I think that was one of the highlights of the day amongst all the other highlights.”

Those other highlights included sophomore Kendall Clark finishing sixth in the girls 800-meter run with a time of 2:20.27, finishing nearly in stride with Basalt’s Maley, who was seventh.

In the girls 800-meter sprint medley, Aspen took a surprising fourth in 1:52.57, beating their PR of 1:54.18. The team went from unlikely to even make finals to finishing fourth at state.

That group is made of Clark, sophomore Zuleika Hanson, junior Julisa Ruiz-Vega and senior Lexi Ferlisi. Alridge was especially excited for Ferlisi, who played on the AHS softball and girls basketball teams, neither of which tallied many wins over her career.

“Lexi Ferlisi, who hadn’t had much success in general in her whole sports career at Aspen, it was nice to see her on the podium and smiling,” Aldridge said. “I’m really happy about what they did.”

Aspen also had its girls 4×400-meter relay team compete in prelims on Friday, finishing 13th in 4:13.51. The time was a PR from the season, but not enough to make it into finals.

Aspen is down to its final two competitors Saturday. Ruiz-Vega will compete in the 100-meter dash finals (10:30 a.m.), while senior Nicholas Galambos will compete in the 1,600-meter race at 11:20 a.m.


Aspen Cycling Club results: Prince Creek mountain bike race from May 15, 2019




Mens A (Open) Long Course

1 0:49:16 BECK, George Basalt Bike & Ski

2 0:49:53 TRAPANI, Lucca

3 0:51:30 LARSON, Chance RFMBA Trail Agents

4 0:51:31 FEER, Wheeler CRMS

5 0:52:04 LEONARD, Scott Basalt Bike & Ski

6 0:52:07 STROKES, Gregory STRAFE

7 0:53:30 WHITE, Justin Basalt Bike & Ski

8 0:53:31 JACOBI, Kevin Limelight Hotel

9 0:54:57 LOGAN, Mark Basalt Bike & Ski

10 0:56:45 PEDERSEN, Oskar CRMS

11 0:56:47 WAINHOLD, Robert Aloha Mountain Cyclery

12 1:00:46 NEWTON, Tyler Hub of Aspen

DNF CHEEVER, Jeff Tokyo Joe’s – Yeti’s Grind Coffee

Womens A (Open) Long Course

1 1:00:10 BECK, Rachel Basalt Bike & Ski

2 1:02:23 LAPOINT, Kara

3 1:07:39 TORY, Caroline Hub of Aspen

4 1:09:59 BRYANT, Lee

5 1:10:05 SEIDLER, Pam Basalt Bike & Ski

6 1:14:46 WIMMER, Maria Sacred Cycle

7 1:18:20 FOSTER, Katelyn

8 1:20:00 SMITH, Michelle No Problem

Mens B (Advanced) Long Course

1 0:56:01 DENNY, Steve Roaring Fork Cycling

2 0:56:02 WILSON, Kevin Woody Creek tavern

3 0:56:06 FEER, Whitton

4 0:56:35 KELLY, Christian Limelight Hotel

5 0:57:21 SMITH, Larry Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork

6 0:58:08 MAJOR, Victor Backbone Media

7 0:59:41 JOHNSON, Finn

8 0:59:48 MISCHKE, Joel Basalt Bike & Ski

9 0:59:49 NOVY, Erik

10 1:00:32 VIOLA, John

11 1:00:54 HUEMMLER, Andrew

12 1:01:19 LINN, John Limelight Hotel

13 1:01:19 TUDDENHAM, Luke Basalt Bike & Ski

14 1:02:07 ETTLINGER, Jared

15 1:02:35 MAPLE, Michael Hub of Aspen

16 1:03:24 DORN, Gabe

17 1:04:22 STARK, Milo Freaks

18 1:04:33 BURKLEY, Rich Limelight Hotel

19 1:04:41 OBERMEYER, Erik

20 1:05:10 ROACH, Chad

21 1:06:50 ADAMS, Casey Basalt Bike & Ski

22 1:07:12 DURHAM, Tyler Roaring Fork Cycling

23 1:09:52 GOERGEN, Peter Limelight Hotel

24 1:10:33 CHERNOSKY, David Sklar Masters Racing

25 1:12:21 POWER SMITH, Tim

26 1:15:21 CRAWFORD, Nat CRMS

27 1:16:31 MINNITI, Adriano

28 1:16:43 LI, Chen CRMS

29 1:19:12 FOOSE, Jake Ragged Mountain Sports

DNF MILLSTONE, David Roaring Fork Cycling

Womens B (Advanced) Short Course

1 0:42:02 FARNUM, Colleen

Mens C (Novice) Short Course

1 0:36:40 FOERSTER, James

2 0:36:41 HERSHBERGER, Jonathan Hub of Aspen

3 0:37:32 OWEN, Tim

4 0:39:28 JOHNSON, Brian Hub of Aspen

5 0:43:11 CIBULSKY, John

6 0:43:43 CARLIN, John

7 0:48:39 CLARK, Jonathon

Womens C (Novice) Short Course

1 0:44:47 SHAW, Sara Limelight Hotel

Mens Masters (50+) Short Course

1 0:36:38 DIMARIA, Danny Hub of Aspen

2 0:38:44 HAYLES, Thomas ZG7908

3 0:40:10 ARMSTRONG, Mike Basalt Bike & Ski

4 0:54:59 GOBA, Agustin


Mens Super Grand Masters (70+) Short Course

1 0:46:47 ADAMSON, John Twisted Spokes Racing

2 0:47:08 JONES, Larry

3 0:54:10 OVEREYNDER, Phil

High School Boys (grades 9-12) Short Course

1 0:34:38 KLEIN, Caden Hub of Aspen

2 0:35:56 PATRICK, Oliver AVSC / AVSC

3 0:37:19 MOORE, Taiga Aspen High School MTB Team

4 0:37:55 LOGAN, Levi Basalt Bike & Ski

5 0:44:51 LEAHY, Finn CRMS

6 1:10:20 CAI, Anderson CRMS

High School Girls (grades 9-12) Short Course

1 0:50:40 HEATH, Megan Basalt High School MTB Team

Middle School Boys (grades 5-8) Short Course

1 0:37:19 CARPENTER, Corbin Roaring Fork Cycling


Race Marshals: Kevin Kreuz, Anjuli Dimaria, Chris Roseberry, John Grice, Miah Wheeler, Cathy Porter, Dawn Kopf, Bob Olenick.

Results may also be viewed at www.aspencyclingclub.org. Questions about results should be directed to results@aspencyclingclub.org.

New Colorado football coach Mel Tucker, athletic director stop in Vail

VAIL — What did Mel Tucker learn from playing for Barry Alvarez and coaching under Nick Saban and Jim Tressel?

“No. 1 is be yourself,” said the University of Colorado’s new football coach Thursday during a stop at The Sebastian-Vail. “They were all different.”

Yet legendary winners are all the same.

It’s that pedigree of success that attracted Rick George to Tucker when CU’s athletic director set out to find the Buffaloes’ next coach in November after parting ways with Mike MacIntyre.

Tucker and George stopped in Vail on Thursday with university chancellor Phil DiStefano to meet with CU alumni on the first stop of a barnstorming tour across the Western Slope. The event was a pep rally of sorts for Eagle County alums and CU fans in the Vail Valley, and Tucker was the main draw.

In front of a captive audience of about 40, Tucker, 47, recounted how George wanted to meet with him just three days before last season’s SEC title game. Tucker, then the defensive coordinator at the University of Georgia, tried to get the meeting moved until Sunday, after the game, but George was persistent.

It was at that Wednesday night meeting, which lasted past midnight, that Tucker knew that he’d found his dream job after 13 different jobs in 21 years as a coach, which included three stints working under Saban and stops with three NFL teams. Tucker’s only previous head-coaching experience came when he went 2-3 as the interim coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011.

Tucker told the crowd at The Sebastian that he’d already done his research on Colorado, from its upgraded facilities to its academics and football tradition, and after coming so close on other jobs, he knew that this was “the one.” He even had his wife go out and get some decorative buffaloes to put on the mantle of the couple’s living room where he met with George and Lance Carl, a CU legend who’s now an associate AD in Boulder.

“I ground them down to a nub,” Tucker joked to the crowd when he explained how he won over the pair. “This is the perfect job for me, and I never intend to leave. This is a destination job, not a stepping-stone job. I want to be the winningest coach in Colorado history.”

No stranger to Boulder

Tucker calls CU a “sleeping giant” just like the Wisconsin program that he committed to in 1990 as a member of Alvarez’s first recruiting class. That’s one way to describe a once-proud program that has been mostly a snooze on the field since Gary Barnett’s ouster in 2005 after leading the Buffs to a Big 12 title in 2001.

Before MacIntyre led the Buffs to a 10-win season in 2016 and a berth in the Pac-12 title game, Colorado hadn’t had a winning season since 2005. The three coaches to succeed Barnett all failed to bring back the luster to a program that won a share of its only national title following the 1990 season.

Despite all that, Tucker said CU has everything it needs to return to national prominence, and he’s never been in the excuses business.

“I look at it like this: Why not CU?” Tucker said. “Why not us? When I hire people, or the best people I worked for, they don’t say, like, ‘We don’t or we can’t or we haven’t.’ They’re always trying to figure out how we can. A can-do attitude. What do we have to do to get it done? Let’s figure it out. That’s my attitude.”

Tucker has participated at a game at Folsom Field before, though he joked that he would rather not remember it. He was a defensive back on the 10th-ranked Badgers team that got stampeded by the No. 7 Buffs, 55-17, in a night game on Sept. 17, 1994.

“I could remember Ralphie running out,” he said. “We were looking forward to it. At Wisconsin, we had Bucky Badger, which was kinda nice, but nothing like Ralphie. When Ralphie ran out that place was going nuts — and it was over. It was over before it started. Colorado had probably one of the top three programs in the country.”

Tucker said his experience at Wisconsin, under Alvarez, showed him the blueprint for how to expunge losing from a program that had known nothing else.

“When I went to Wisconsin, they hadn’t been relevant in football (in) forever,” he said. “We were all sitting in the dorms wondering, how the hell did they trick us into coming up here? And then we’re in the Rose Bowl four years later.”

He got his start in coaching under Saban, first at Michigan State, then following him to LSU before rejoining him at Alabama where he was part of the 2015 national title team.

If he thought he’d learned everything from Saban and Alvarez, though, Tressel gave him a whole different perspective.

“I leave LSU, I go to Ohio State and Jim Tressel’s first staff, where he had just won four national championships at Youngstown State, so obviously he knows how to win, and he’s got a sweater vest and a tie on game day,” Tucker said. “He’s the Senator. He never raises his voice, a curse word never comes out of his mouth. He’s an offensive coach. And we go 14-0 our second season. That was before Nick won his championship at LSU. That just goes to show you, be you. Do you.”

Setting the expectation

George certainly knows what it takes to win a national title in Boulder. He was the recruiting coordinator for that 1990 CU team led by Bill McCartney that beat Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl.

“If you don’t believe you can win a national championship, then you’re never gonna win one,” George said. “From Day 1, he and I had that discussion.”

That expectation starts, George said, with locking up Colorado’s best recruits and then going after the best recruits in the country. Tucker, known as a dogged recruiter who has coached five first-round NFL picks and recruited four others, said the focus will be on Colorado, Utah, California, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia.

CU’s facilities are on par with nearly any program in the country, and Tucker said that factor, along with a winning tradition from another era, gives him a chance.

“We did a lot of research on Colorado and all the boxes just kept getting checked with Phil, with Rick, the facilities, the school, the town, tradition,” he said. “If you’ve got tradition and facilities, you’ve got a really good chance. Everything was in place … we’ve just got to close.”


State track Day 1: Basalt girls set school record in 4×800 relay

The first day of the Colorado high school state track and field meet included a new school record and a couple of surprise finals qualifiers for Aspen and Basalt in Class 3A.

In the only final of the day for area athletes Thursday at Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood, the Basalt girls 4×800-meter relay team finished fifth, a spot ahead of its seed time. That group, comprised of senior Megan Maley, senior Maddie Ellison, junior Lily Gillis and sophomore Sierra Bower, ran it in 9 minutes, 52.99 seconds, a new school record. They broke the old record by more than four seconds and beat their seed time by nearly 10 seconds.

It was only the second and final time that group has run the 4×800 relay together.

“It would have been nice to compete again, but it was fun,” Maley said. “It was nice to end it with a school record and a podium finish. We are all happy.”

Peak to Peak won the relay in a blistering 9:17.96, about 16 seconds ahead of runner-up D’Evelyn. Aspen also competed in the 4×800, but struggled out of the blocks to finish last with a time of 11:16.58.

“I’m still trying to piece that one together,” AHS coach James Aldridge said. “We didn’t get out too hot and it was just kind of a domino effect.”

The Skiers did have a great result in their other relay of the day. The girls 800-meter sprint medley took sixth in prelims (1:52.68) to qualify for Friday’s 11:55 a.m. final. That group is made of senior Lexi Ferlisi, junior Julisa Ruiz-Vega, sophomore Kendall Clark and sophomore Zuleika Hanson.

Elizabeth had the best time in the sprint medley prelim at 1:49.72.

Ruiz-Vega was the only individual to compete Thursday for Aspen, where she finished ninth in the girls 100-meter dash prelim to sneak into the finals with a time of 13.14 seconds. It was a touch slower than her seed time of 12.87 seconds, which was in the middle of the pack entering prelims.

Avery Wright of Montezuma-Cortez, the pre-race favorite, led the prelim with a time of 12.48 seconds. Finals are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

“It wasn’t her best race — more so the environment. It was new to her,” Aldridge said of Ruiz-Vega, a first-time state qualifier. “It’s hard to get into a zone in a super fresh environment as far as athletic performance. When she gets another chance on Saturday she’ll be well into the zone and past the pre-race jitters.”

Basalt junior Ben Williams had arguably the most surprising result for the Longhorns. Seeded toward the bottom of the pack entering prelims, he finished ninth in the boys 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.25 seconds to make finals, scheduled for 9:50 a.m. Saturday.

“It feels so great. I definitely did get a little lucky,” Williams said, noting one of the top qualifiers false started and was disqualified. “That’s just another opportunity for me to get better, so I’ll absolutely take it.”

BHS sophomore Rulbe Alvarado came up a bit unlucky, finishing 10th in the boys 200-meter dash prelim in 23.47 seconds to miss out on making finals by a single spot. The ninth-place finisher had a time of 23.21. Alvarado entered with a seed time of 23.09.

Still, the young sprinter found reason for optimism.

“I was just happy that I got to come but a little disappointed that I didn’t get in by a spot, but it’s just a learning experience for the next couple of years,” Alvarado said. “I was so nervous because it was a big competition and I wasn’t used to it, but I feel I’ll be better prepared for next year.”

Maley was the only other to compete as an individual Thursday, finishing 15th in the girls 400-meter dash prelim in 1:01.42 to miss out on making finals. The senior still has the 800-meter run finals at 12:50 p.m. Friday, where she is seeded third.

“My legs were definitely a little tired, but I had fun,” Maley said of the 400, which she ran about two hours after the record-setting 4×800 relay. “I’m just happy that I got to compete again and end on a happy note. Not my best, but it was good for me.”

Friday’s lineup is pretty busy for both teams, highlighted by the girls 3,200-meter run at 8:20 a.m. Basalt’s Bower enters with the top seed time (11:15.63) and will be in the mix for a state championship.


Basalt’s Hailey Swirbul encouraged by results after first year on U.S. Ski Team

From a surprising World Cup start to eating meals with the sport’s elite, Hailey Swirbul got everything she wanted and more in her first season on the U.S. Ski Team.

The 2016 Basalt High School graduate and former Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club athlete hopes those experiences will now lead to even greater success down the line.

“It was a really good year of learning for me,” Swirbul said in a recent interview with The Aspen Times. “I was really excited with how my season went. I think I made more improvement from last season. It was really awesome to have a lot of new resources with the U.S. team involved and to have tons of new experiences.”

Swirbul, 20, is one of the country’s rising stars in cross-country ski racing. She turned heads a few winters ago when she became the most decorated American, male or female, in junior worlds history. She was directly involved with three of the country’s five ever medals at the top-tier junior event at the time.

This led to her first nomination to the U.S. team last spring, where she joined longtime friends Hannah Halvorsen, Julia Kern and Katharine Ogden on the development team.

Swirbul spent most of this past winter competing in domestic races here in the U.S. and Canada, but was given quite the surprise when she was tasked with competing in her first World Cup race, a Jan. 12 sprint in Dresden, Germany.

“We had come right from the states 36 hours before. It was a little bit of a short-notice, last-minute invite. So that was tough,” Swirbul said. “It was really intimidating. I won’t lie. It was really crazy to be in the same room as people like Stina Nilsson, the best in the world, and see them eating breakfast — eating the same breakfast I was and warming up the same way. Stuff like that was really eye-opening.”

Swirbul finished 41st in that race, which was won by Sweden’s Nilsson, who can be considered the best sprinter in the world at the moment. She is the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the individual sprint. For Swirbul to step on the same track as someone of that caliber was intimidating, as she said, but it was equally as motivating and encouraging.

“It was really motivating to see I’m within striking distance of earning a World Cup point,” Swirbul said. “I’m glad I got that first experience over with. It was a little bit nerve-wracking and from there I know what it’s like. I know the routine and I know how the U.S. team works in that environment now. So it was much less intimidating the second time around in Quebec.”

From the onset of the season, Swirbul had always expected to get a start in the World Cup Finals, which Canada hosted in late March. She started all three races in Quebec, taking 53rd in the sprint, 41st in the 10-kilometer classic and 41st again in the 10k freestyle pursuit.

“The Quebec races were definitely motivating,” Swirbul said, “and moving forward it’s going to be really important for me to set smaller goals to make becoming one of the better skiers in the world more attainable.”

U.S. Ski and Snowboard recently announced its nominations for next year’s cross-country ski team, with Swirbul getting tabbed for the B team with Kern and Caitlin Patterson. Halvorsen remained on the D team while the women’s A team will be made of Sadie Bjornsen, Rosie Brennan, Sophie Caldwell and Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins.

Aspen native and three-time Olympian Simi Hamilton looks to return to the U.S. team alongside Erik Bjornsen as the only two men on the A team next winter.

Swirbul, who also trains and races with the Alaska Pacific University club team in Anchorage, hopes to add even more World Cup races to her schedule next winter, not to mention a return to the U23 World Championships, which will likely be her biggest event outside of the World Cups.

Regardless of who she is representing, Swirbul plans to continue dreaming big.

“I have some big goals, so I’m going to do what I can to get there,” she said. “In a distant corner of my mind, for sure, I’m thinking about the Olympics, definitely. It’s a goal a little bit down the road. But next year I’m going to focus on under-23s again and getting more World Cup experience and just taking it one year at a time.”


Led by Sierra Bower, Basalt sending seven to state track meet

There certainly are expectations for Basalt High School sophomore standout Sierra Bower this week at the state track and field meet, but she insists most of them were put there herself.

With the top time among Class 3A girls in the 3,200-meter run (or 2 mile) ahead of Friday morning’s race in Lakewood, the state title is there for the taking.

“The first seed in any race has a target on their back. Just going to try and channel those nerves into my race,” Bower said. “I’m feeling pretty good. Just trying to stay calm and relaxed. Last year everything was very new and there were really no expectations. This year I feel it’s a little bit different.”

Bower’s school-record time of 11 minutes, 15.63 seconds in the 3,200 is about five seconds faster than the second-best seed time entering the race. It wasn’t the fastest time on the season, however, but Peak to Peak’s Quinn McConnell has decided not to race in the event, seemingly to focus on the mile.

This means Bower will certainly have that target on her back, but the belief is she is ready for it.

“She has had her eye on this prize since the beginning of the season,” Basalt track coach Allyson Decatur said. “What we saw last year with her being a bit timid and shy, those days are gone. She is willing to fight. You are going to see her with a new kick she is not used to throwing out there.”

Bower finished 11th in the 2 mile last spring as a freshman with a time of 12:08.85. Frontier Academy’s Hannah Ellis, who was a senior, won the race in 11:19.39, a few seconds slower than Bower’s seed time this year.

“It would be so exciting. That’s definitely been the goal this whole season,” Bower said of possibly winning the state title. “I’m still definitely going to have a lot of competition. There are a lot of strong, fast girls in my race. So it’s definitely not going to be something easy.”

Bower also will compete in the 1,600-meter run (or mile), where she enters with the sixth best time (5:14.32, a school record). She did not compete in the event as a freshman.

Bower is part of a strong 4×800-meter relay team, which also is seeded sixth. That relay, which also includes senior Megan Maley, junior Lily Gillis and senior Maddie Ellison, qualified despite only competing once this season and finished only five seconds off the school record.

Maley will be one to watch in the 800-meter run. Her time of 2:19.13 is a school record and is the third best time entering the Friday afternoon race.

She also snuck into the 400-meter dash, where she’ll be looking to sneak onto the podium. She competed in the 400 last year, as well, finishing 17th in prelims. She did not qualify for state in the 800 last spring.

“I’m not really nervous. I’m just going to go into it with no expectations and have fun in my last race,” said Maley, who is competing at state for the third time. “It’s really surreal, and it’s also very humbling. I’m just grateful that I can compete again.”

Basalt is sending a lone field athlete in sophomore Katie Bohannan, who will compete in the pole vault. Her mark of 8 feet is a school record as this season she became the first BHS female to ever set a mark in the event.

The Longhorns have two boys going in junior Ben Williams and sophomore Rulbe Alvarado, both first time state qualifiers.

Alvarado’s time of 23.09 seconds got him into the 200-meter dash, which he ran at the final meet of the regular season after being on the qualifying bubble all spring.

“I was just really excited at first,” he said. “I was nervous the whole season because at times I was in and then I got bumped out. Just that final meet I got in there and was really happy.”

Williams made the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 16.16 seconds. He also needed a strong performance late in the season to sneak in.

“It feels pretty incredible,” Williams said. “It’s just something I’ve been working toward since about seventh grade when my sister (2018 BHS graduate Kaylin Williams) went. Being able to compete at such a high level is something I’ve always wanted to do.”


Aspen girls lacrosse season ends with quarterfinal loss to Valor; soccer falls to Jefferson Academy

Maybe the Aspen High School girls lacrosse team wasn’t quite ready to win a state championship, but it did more than enough this spring to prove the opportunity might exist down the line.

The historic season ended Wednesday when No. 4 Aspen, playing in the state quarterfinals for the first time in its 10-year history, lost 12-7 to No. 5 Valor Christian on the AHS turf. The loss is the first and only of the season for the Skiers, who finish with a 16-1 overall record, a program best.

“Do we walk away not having the result we wanted? Of course. Every coach and every player on this team wanted to win and go all the way,” second-year AHS coach Amanda Trendell said. “But at the end of the day, I told these seniors, ‘You opened up a door that wasn’t there before.’”

While girls lacrosse is still coming into its own at Valor Christian, it’s still a larger school — they compete in Class 5A in many sports, compared to 3A for AHS — with resources a team like Aspen doesn’t have. Maybe not quite David vs. Goliath, the Eagles represented an opponent the Skiers probably wouldn’t have been able to hang with only a couple seasons ago.

Valor Christian looked every bit the superior team early in Wednesday’s game, quickly jumping out to a 3-0 lead before AHS junior Charlotte Howie scored about five minutes into the contest. Down 4-1, the Skiers answered with back-to-back goals — another by Howie and one from senior Sabrina Turbidy — to make it 4-3 approaching the midway point of the first half.

But the Eagles closed strong and led 6-3 at the halftime break.

Aspen never let the game get out of hand, pulling back within two goals only a minute into the second half, but could never completely close that gap. Howie scored her fifth and final goal to make it 12-7 with about seven minutes to go, but neither team would score from there on out.

The win sends Valor Christian (14-3) to the state semifinals where it will face No. 1 seed Colorado Academy on Saturday. Colorado Academy beat No. 9 Fairview on Wednesday, 18-4. In the other quarterfinal games, No. 2 Cherry Creek beat No. 7 Denver East, 12-7, and No. 6 Regis Jesuit beat No. 3 Pine Creek, 18-11.

While Aspen now says goodbye to its season and a strong senior class, it does believe the future is bright. The Skiers should have plenty of firepower back next year, including Howie, Kylie Kenny and Hayley Heinecken, among others.

“We know what we need to work on and it’s going to make us really hungry for next year,” Trendell said. “The biggest thing is again putting in the work in the offseason. When we want to hang with these teams like Valor who have resources, we have to put in work outside of lacrosse. It’s hitting the weight room; it’s getting faster, getting stronger. At the end of the day it comes down to confidence, which is built in those places.”

Aspen girls soccer loses 5-0 to Jefferson Academy in state quarterfinals

The season came to an end for the Aspen High School girls soccer team on Wednesday with a 5-0 loss at Jefferson Academy in the Class 3A state quarterfinals.

The Jaguars scored only seconds into the game, one that was marred by numerous penalties, including a red card that forced the Skiers to play a man down in the second half.

“The first 20 seconds they scored. It took us another 20 minutes to kind of get in our groove. At the end of the first half we were OK — 1-nil down. We still felt very confident,” AHS coach John Gillies said. “By the end of it, it wasn’t a fight.”

Aspen played without a couple of key players because of injury and couldn’t overcome being a man down in the second half, where the Skiers were outscored 4-0. Gillies said the red card “changed the game completely.”

It was a rematch of last year’s state semifinal game, which Jefferson Academy won, 1-0, before beating Kent Denver for the 3A state title.

The Jaguars (16-1-1), seeded No. 3 this spring, move onto Saturday’s semifinal against No. 2 Kent Denver in a rematch of that 2018 championship game. Jefferson’s only loss this season came in April to Kent Denver. Kent beat No. 7 Peak to Peak, 2-0, in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

The other semifinal on Saturday will be No. 1 Colorado Academy against No. 13 Prospect Ridge, which held off No. 21 Vail Mountain on Wednesday, 5-4.

Aspen, seeded No. 6, finishes the season 13-3-1 overall.

aspen, basalt Baseball seasons officially come to an end

The regional brackets for Class 3A baseball were announced Wednesday and as expected neither Aspen nor Basalt will find itself in the postseason.

University earned the top seed, followed by Eaton, Sterling, Peak to Peak and Delta.

The Skiers finished the season 2-20 overall, while Basalt wrapped up with a 6-13 overall record.

This means the only sports still going this spring for either team are track and girls golf. The state track and field meet gets underway Thursday and goes through Saturday in Lakewood, while the AHS girls golf team has three players competing Monday and Tuesday at state in Vail.


Kendall Clark leads large group of AHS Skiers to state track meet

A year removed from not having a single qualifier for the state track and field meet, an older, hungrier Aspen High School team made the most of this spring. The Skiers have four individuals and three relay teams set to compete this week at the state meet in Lakewood, a significant step up from 2018.

“We’ve definitely taken some steps forward as a program,” AHS track coach James Aldridge said. “It’s just a year older, a year stronger. They had the makings of it last year, but were just right on the fringe. It’s nice to go down there with a group.”

The group is led by sophomore Kendall Clark, who will compete in all three relays as well as the 800-meter run. A solid cross-country athlete in the fall and Nordic skier in the winter, Clark enters the 800 — 3A finals are scheduled for 12:50 p.m. Friday — with the fifth-best seed time (2 minutes, 20.32 seconds). She’s about eight seconds off the pace set by race favorite Lilly Lavier of Alamosa.

“I’m super excited. I definitely couldn’t believe my time when I finished. It didn’t really settle in for a while,” Clark said of her 800 time, which is believed to be a school record. “It was a PR by four seconds over my last time, so it came as a surprise. But I worked hard, so I’m pretty proud. Really excited to go to state. I don’t really have any goals in state. It will be my first time there. I’m really excited, so I’ll run my hardest.”

Clark is part of a state-qualified 4×400-meter relay team that broke the school record earlier this season. They’ll need to step it up another notch in all likelihood to make the finals. The AHS girls also are sending their 4×800-meter relay team and their 800-meter sprint medley relay.

Among Aspen’s biggest surprises this season was the addition of junior Julisa Ruiz-Vega, a first-time track athlete who also plays soccer. She will compete in the 100-meter dash.

While her time of 12.87 seconds ranks in the bottom half of the 18 qualified athletes, it’s still within striking distance of Montezuma-Cortez freshman Avery Wright, who has the best seed time of 12.46 seconds.

“We snuck her from soccer and she ended up being one of the fastest kids in the state,” Aldridge said of Ruiz-Vega.

Aspen is sending one field athlete in junior Paige Quist. She will compete in the shot put, where her mark of 35 feet, 10 inches has her seeded roughly 12th out of 18 qualifiers.

The lone male athlete going for Aspen is senior Nicholas Galambos, who set a 13-second personal record in the 1,600-meter run (or mile) at the last meet of the season to qualify. His time of 4:35.64 is seeded 14th.