Basalt softball standout from Glenwood, Willow Stolley, heads to DIII Agnes Scott
A chance to play baseball with the boys her freshman and sophomore years paid dividends for Glenwood Springs High School senior Willow Stolley, who is now set to play softball at the collegiate level next fall.
Stolley, who has been one of several Glenwood student-athletes to play for the all-district Basalt High School softball team, recently signed to play for Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia.
“I was looking at three schools, but it came down to Agnes Scott,” Stolley said of the all-girl school near Atlanta. “I think it’s going to suit me well. They have an amazing leadership program and strong academics, and their softball team is really good, too.”
Stolley played three of her four high school years with the Basalt team, which combines players from Basalt, Roaring Fork High in Carbondale and Glenwood High. The exception was her sophomore year when she was injured and couldn’t play in the fall.
Growing up playing in the area’s youth recreation leagues and the official Little League softball program when she was older, Stolley has had a longtime bond with several players who ultimately became her high school teammates.
Among them have been fellow Glenwood athletes Bella Meraz and Graci Dietrich, and Roaring Fork’s Corey Bollock and Maya Lindgren (who just signed to play college basketball at Coe College).
“We all grew up together and knew each other from Little League, so there’s a lot of sportsmanship between us,” Stolley said.
When she was in middle school, her parents, Tim and Ann Stolley (her mom coached the area Little League team) tried unsuccessfully to start a softball team at GSHS.
“I couldn’t not play high school softball,” Stolley said. “So, we decided we would find a way to get me up to Basalt every day during the season, whether it took carpooling or my parents or grandparents driving me up there … we made it work.”
She also had previously played for Basalt assistant coach Amy Bollock, Corey’s mother, when she coached in the Carbondale recreation league.
“Willow is a leader, and is just accepting of everybody on the team,” Amy Bollock said of her protegé. “As a senior this year she really helped the freshmen along. She’s the kind of person who allows people to follow her, and she’s genuine in her leadership.”
Stolley asked Bollock to be present at her recent signing ceremony, along with her parents and family.
Stolley participated in other sports, including the GSHS swim team and middle school basketball, but always gravitated toward softball.
After her freshman softball season, she decided to join the boys on the baseball team in the spring, playing catcher and second base.
“The game moves a bit slower than softball, but my biggest issue was hitting,” she said. “The pitching is just faster and the ball is harder to read. The bats are also much heavier.
“They were all extremely welcoming to me, though,” Stolley said of her baseball teammates.
She didn’t get a single hit in baseball, but her junior year in softball she hit 12 home runs and had her best slugging percentage ever.
“Just the practice I was getting was huge, and I was a lot stronger player when I was also playing baseball,” she said.
Last fall, when the Longhorns finished at 9-7 on the season and 8-4 in the 3A Western Slope League, Stolley batted .477 over 16 games, with 21 hits, 18 RBIs, five stolen bases and 20 runs scored. As a utility player on defense, she had a fielding percentage of .815.
“Willow had a ton of improvement from her junior to her senior year with her infielding skills,” coach Bollock said. “She developed good, quick decision-making, which also helped on the base path.”
Knowing she wanted to take her game to the next level, Stolley said she also worked on developing her sportsmanship and team-player skills.
“It was good to experience different positions on the field, and help get the younger girls ready to move up to the next level,” Stolley said.
“I also really worked on my handwork skills, and getting ready for that next level … where I’ll see faster pitching and harder-hit balls.”
Also, given the COVID-19 restrictions the team had to adjust to, “just appreciating the game for what it is,” she said.
Glenwood High boys and Basalt girls win delayed season-opening basketball games
In an eerily quiet Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium, the masked Glenwood Springs High School basketball teams hosted the Basalt Longhorns on Tuesday to kick off the Covid-shortened 2021 season.
The girls got things started, as Basalt managed to hold on late in the game for a 36-29 win. The nightcap saw the Glenwood boys jump to an early lead en route to a 50-42 win.
Lady Longhorns start strong
Basalt senior guard Gracie Reardon took matters into her own hands to start the game by hitting a couple of quick 3-pointers and two shots from the free throw line to give her team an early 8-0 edge.
With the Demons playing a bit tentative and trying to shake off a cold shooting start, coach Rhonda Moser called a timeout with 3:38 to play in the first quarter when her team had yet to get on the scoreboard.
“We were playing really hesitant and passively,” Moser said. “When we got behind, we kind of got that deer in the headlights look and couldn’t seem to shake it.”
Glenwood senior post Graci Dietrich got the Demons going following the timeout with a turnaround jump shot in the lane. A quick scoring answer from Longhorn senior forward Chandra Bohannan came in the form of two foul line makes and a bank shot in the lane to put Basalt ahead by double digits at 12-2.
Demon senior guard Maddie Moser lofted in a banking 3-pointer, and Glenwood sophomores Mattea Enewold and Breauna Sorensen provided a spark off the bench by tallying three free throws and a basket to put Basalt’s halftime lead at 18-10.
Glenwood’s full-court press began to bother the Longhorns to start the second half, as scoring opportunities began to present themselves for the home team.
Junior Miah Suarez scored in the lane as Glenwood looked to gain some much needed momentum, but Basalt’s Reardon notched her third 3-pointer of the night to keep the Demons at bay.
In the game’s final quarter, senior guard Riley Dolan scored twice inside to put Basalt up 34-18. Moser and sophomore Joslyn Spires hit 3-pointers for Glenwood, but with time as its biggest adversary, the Demons came up just short as the clock ticked away.
Basalt coach Amy Contini was very pleased with her team’s season-opening victory.
“Being in the gym with these kids since August and seeing all of the hard work they have put in is gratifying. They’re good kids and they are driven to get better each night,” Contini said.
Maddie Moser and Spires led Glenwood in scoring with eight and seven points, respectively. Basalt was topped by Reardon with 11 points and Dolan with 10.
Demon boys off to encouraging start
Glenwood senior Omar Bonilla provided an early lift and junior Blake Nieslanik carried the Demon torch just after halftime, as Glenwood raced out to an early 20-6 lead on visiting Basalt, then withstood a furious Longhorn comeback en route to a 50-42 win to open the season.
It was junior guard Aiden Nieslanik who dropped in a 3-pointer to put Glenwood up by the 14-point margin early in quarter number two, but Basalt senior Teegan Card got a couple of baskets in the paint and fellow senior Alonso Silva hit a 3-ball to key a 12-7 second period scoring advantage as the Longhorns trailed just 24-18 at intermission.
With Glenwood’s lead a scant 27-23 in the third period, Blake Nieslanik scored off an inbounds play and hit a basket on a follow shot to put Glenwood up 31-25.
It was Nieslanik scoring again on a nice assist from Bonilla to help stem the Basalt comeback hopes.
In the decisive fourth quarter, junior guard Reid Swanson dropped in a couple of baskets for Glenwood, including a 3-pointer, to go along with baskets by junior Stevie Vega and senior Anthony Aviles. The Demons increased their margin to 44-35 with 4:16 to play and cruised to victory.
Blake Nieslanik and Bonilla tied for Glenwood’s game scoring honors with 11 points each. Swanson tallied 8 points, with Vega hitting for 7. Basalt was led by Card with 11 points.
It’s go time: Glenwood-area high school hoops teams ready to mask up, play ball
At long last, high school basketball teams return to the court this week as part of Colorado’s revamped winter sports lineup, which has been delayed since November due to the coronavirus.
Playing under strict protocols including a requirement to wear masks while playing and on the sideline, and with no fans allowed in the stands, Garfield County teams enter the 2021 campaign with one objective — let’s just play!
Action begins Tuesday when the Glenwood Springs High School boys and girls host the Basalt Longhorns. Games will be broadcast live on KMTS radio.
Here’s a look at what area teams are working with this season.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS BOYS
The Demons might have an “X” marked on their backs this season after a fourth consecutive 4A Western Slope League title and undefeated conference season last year.
Ending the season in the Great 8 of the state tournament at 22-4, the Demons graduated four all-conference players and seven seniors altogether.
“People are going to be shooting for us,” third-year head coach Fred Heisel said. “They’re going to be thinking that, (they’re) young now and now’s our time to get em … we’re going to have a target on our back all year.”
The Demons, however, still return some good experience. Heisel will have at his disposal the likes of juniors Blake Nieslanik, Aiden Nieslanik and Reid Swanson.
“We’re shorter this year, as well as younger,” Heisel said.
Heisel anticipates Steamboat Springs, Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley and Summit to be tough tests for Glenwood in the league this season.
Heisel will look to his team to overcome their youth as the season progresses.
“We’re building toward the end,” he said. “The championship is at the end of the year. We just have to be ready for that one.”
Glenwood plays Basalt 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, and travels to Coal Ridge on Friday.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS GIRLS
Also coming off a league championship, an undefeated conference season and an overall 21-4 record, the Glenwood Lady Demons graduated six seniors.
But a returning core of five players who saw ample varsity game time last season should make for a solid title defense.
Topping the roster are seniors Graci Dietrich and Maddie Moser, along with juniors Ella Johnson and Kenzie Winder and sophomore Joslyn Spires.
“Our kids are just excited to get to play, finally,” head coach Rhonda Moser said. “We never guessed when we went to the Sweet 16 last season that we wouldn’t be able to set foot back in the gym for 10 months.”
A deep bench and an ability to spread the ball around will again define the Lady Demons attack, Moser said.
“That’s the type of program I like to run,” she said. “We’re not super tall, but I think we’ll be pretty quick.”
Teams to beat in the league include Palisade and Steamboat Springs.
Following the home opener at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday versus Basalt, the Demons travel the short distance to play Coal Ridge on Friday.
Coming off a 10-14 season last year, Rifle boys basketball looks to lean on a bench full of juniors and sophomores this season.
Head coach Kyle Daniell said his team this year may not be the oldest, but they definitely have some good experience returning to the court.
Among the 30 players who came out for high school basketball this season, Daniell will look to some of his key players for leadership and production, including Tido Ruiz, Danny Carreon and Kade Bisop.
“We are extremely excited for the season,” Daniell said. “We feel very fortnaturte to get the season rolling. We got games on the horizon, (and) we feel really blessed to play this season because it could be a lot worse.”
Daniell said Rifle right now looks like they have all the pieces to make a successful season.
“Handling the challenge is right now day to day,” he said. “Just like life, we have challenges all the time. There’s a lot of good lessons we can learn.”
Among the Western Slope teams, Daniell said Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs and Eagle Valley will likely make formidable opponents this season.“One thing I do know,” Daniell said, “our league is strong.”
The first game of the season for Rifle boys is slated for 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Grand Valley High School.
Rifle girls basketball coach Eric Caro may have lost five key seniors to graduation, but that’s no reason to count the Bears out.
“I think people are writing us off because we lost five seniors, but we’ve had a lot of girls be really hungry this off season,” Caro said.
The Bears finished 10-15 overall last season, but a strong finish propelled Rifle into the state playoffs.
though the Bears are still young this season, Caro said his players are ready to play and work hard. In addition, he’s confident they can safely navigate their way through COVID-19.
“I think our parents have all been pretty responsible with how they’ve managed themselves and trying to do what’s best for the kids,” he said.
“We just want to compete and steal some wins,” he added.
Opponents to watch out for in 4A ball this season include Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springs and Palisade.
Rifle’s tipoff to the season starts with an away game against Grand Valley High School, 6 p.m. Thursday.
“Oh man, we’re pumped,” Caro said. “Thursday night cannot come soon enough.”
ROARING FORK BOYS
A rough start and a tough nonconference schedule for the Roaring Fork boys last season made for a bumpy road, but the Rams return locked and loaded for the 2021 campaign.
Roaring Fork finished 6-16 overall last year, but a respectable finish and a 4-5 3A Western Slope League mark was encouraging, second-year coach Tony Gross said.
Now, after the delayed start to the season, the Rams are ready to butt heads for a shot at the league title.
Last year’s leading scorer, Graham Pietch, returns for his senior year, and the Rams will have some size inside with 6-3 senior Tristan Maker and fellow senior, 6-1 Julian Alcantara.
“I think we’ll be pretty strong with seven seniors on the team, and all of them having varsity experience,” Gross said.
Another strength should be a deep bench, with ability to rotate in as many as 10 or 11 players, he said.
“We’ve been going at it pretty hard, but the kids are tired of practicing and just want to start playing,” Gross said.
The league should be strong as usual, with as many as five or six teams likely vying for the top spot come playoff time.
The Rams open at home Thursday against Olathe. Game time is 7 p.m.
ROARING FORK GIRLS
Led by All-Conference player and Coe College signee senior Maya Lindgren, the Roaring Fork girls will be looking to improve on a strong 2019-20 season to make a run for the league title.
“We should be tough again, with several returning players and some young players who are looking really good,” second-year coach Juan Quintero said.
The Rams finished 13-10 overall and 6-3 in the league last year, and have several players who saw a lot of playing time last year on the court again. Among them are seniors Lily Nieslanik and Letey Crownhart and juniors Genesis Quintero and Sienna Pargiter-Walker.
“They played a lot of minutes last year for varsity,” Coach Quintero said. “We lost three senior starters, but we’re still a pretty experienced team.”
The girls open their 2021 campaign in the early game Thursday versus Olathe, at 5:30 p.m.
COAL RIDGE BOYS
Coming off a 14-7 overall season and 7-2 run in the 3A Western Slope League that included a bitter loss to Gunnison for the league title, Coal Ridge looks to a seasoned group of returning players to renew the effort.
The Titans graduated their hot hand from the outside, Austin Gerber, but look to this year’s seniors Moses Contreras, Hank DiMarco, Karsen Dubois, Andrew Herrera and Irvin Ortega to fill the gap.
“We’re very excited to finally get to play, and I think everyone is a little on edge until it actually happens,” veteran Coal Ridge coach Paul Harvey said. “It’s the longest offseason we’ve ever had, so it’s definitely been outside the normal.”
But a lack of practice time and the COVID-19 protocols will be something all of the teams the Titans face will be contending with, he noted.
“Every game counts a little more this season,” Harvey said. “And the mask thin, our guys have been wearing them and aren’t complaining. We look at this whole thing as a sign of strength. I hope it makes us all stronger.”
Coal Ridge opens its season Wednesday on the road at Steamboat Springs, and returns for the home opener against Glenwood Springs on Friday.
Coals Ridge games can be viewed via live webstream at NFHS network.
COAL RIDGE GIRLS
With a good number of top scorers returning to Coal Ridge basketball this season, head coach Clyde Morgan said he’s excited to get back to action.
“I think everybody’s just ready to get out and do something,” he said. “It’s been a while since a lot of the kids have played any type of sports.”
Coal Ridge, which went 11-10 last season (5-4 league), will likely lean on the likes of senior Taylor Weiscamp, Kallie Bumgardner, Rae Nelson and Mikayla Cheney, as well as Jackie Camunez, a sophomore who’ll score some big points for the Titans.
A notable loss to graduation, however, includes Lyanna Nevarez.
“Losing her is going to hurt a little bit but we have some girls that can step up into that position,” Morgan said. ”(We’re) really going to try to get the ball up and down the floor and see what happens.”
Morgan said Moffat County, Delta, Grand Valley, Roaring Fork and Basalt will all be formidable opponents to watch out for in class 3A.
“It’s always a battle every night whenever we play,” he said.
Coal Ridge starts the season with a home game against Glenwood Springs 5:30 p.m. Friday.
GRAND VALLEY BOYS
Grand Valley boys basketball went 12-8 last season, and head coach Jeremy Tanner is optimistic his team can build off that this year — especially knowing opposing teams will have their own hurdles to overcome,
“I think depth is going to be a big issue for teams this year,” he said. “Besides being there’s short time to prepare and get conditioned as a lot of coaches would want, on top of that having to wear masks and stuff … I really think that’s going to play into the cards this season.”
Returning this season for the Cardinals include go-to players Emilio and Enrique Garcia. They look to make up for the losses of now former Cards Louis Magallanes and Alex Cornejo.
“I’m excited to see what they’ll do,” Tanner said of the Garcias.
Tanner also said this year the Cardinals are set to play 14 games in five weeks, referring to it as “fast and furious.”
“It’s going to be a marathon,” he said.
Tanner anticipates Gunnison, Moffat County and Coal Ridge to be strong opponents for Grand Valley this year.
Grand Valley hosts Rifle High School at 7 p.m. Thursday.
GRAND VALLEY GIRLS
Grand Valley girls basketball ended last season with a notable 16-7 record.
That was with the help of Kirstin Medina, Loghan Teeter, Jordyn Pittman and Taygann Schoeppner — all since graduated.
Still, Cardinals head coach Scott Parker said his young team still has something to bring to the table.
“We’ll have quite a few younger players on the floor, but we’ve got some good skill, so I’m excited about that,” he said. “We’ve got some pretty athletic kids and we’re going to try and take advantage of that.”
Beyond everything else, the Cardinals are excited to get back to the court.
“The girls haven’t been able to play sports all school year, so we’re definitely looking forward to it,” he said.
Under the unique circumstances of COVID-19, Parker acknowledged that his team will have to overcome challenges — but so will everyone else.
“Most definitely, but everyone in the state plays in the same challenges,” he said. “I think the team that doesn’t let the challenges get in the way, I think will be better for it.”
Parker anticipates Delta, Roaring Fork and Moffat County to have good teams this year.
“I’m excited to coach these girls and see where we can go,” he said.
Grand Valley hosts its first game of the season against Rifle High School 6 p.m. Thursday.
Roaring Fork’s Maya Lindgren signs to play DIII college hoops at Iowa’s Coe College
Maya Lindgren had always considered herself “more of a softball girl” until she started getting some serious looks on the basketball court during her junior season at Roaring Fork High School last year.
“I’ve always played both sports … throughout high school, but when I started getting a little bit of interest from (basketball) coaches, it made me think, hey, maybe I am good enough for this,” Lindgren said.
That “this” ended up being a letter of commitment signed during the winter holiday break to play basketball for NCAA Division III Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The dual-sport student-athlete was named to the Class 3A Western Slope League all-conference first team for softball as one of two Carbondale players on the Basalt High School softball team last fall.
And, it was her impressive stats on the hardwood during the 2019-20 basketball season — 12.8 points per game (including multiple 25+ point games), a 38% shooting percentage and 295 total points — that earned her a first-team all-conference selection for basketball, as well.
Lindgren had offers from several different colleges, but said Coe seemed to be the best fit both academically and athletics-wise.
“It’s huge, honestly,” Lindgren said. “I’ve always wanted to be able to play at the collegiate level. I just think it’s really cool to be able to pursue one of the things I love after high school … I’m just really proud of myself.”
Lindgren enters her senior basketball season as the Rams’ starting point guard and team captain, an honor she was bestowed her junior year by Roaring Fork head coach Juan Quintero.
“One of the things we always talk about is being really positive with each other as teammates, and that’s something Maya does well,” Quintero said. “She’s been a great leader for the team, and really helps the other girls out on the court and on the sideline.”
Talent-wise, “Maya is one of most skilled players I’ve seen in 3A basketball,” Quintero said. “Her skill level off the dribble is by far the best in our league, and last year she really came out of her shell and showed that leadership ability, too.”
Lindgren has played varsity most of her four years at RFHS, and has been playing basketball since elementary school in the Carbondale youth recreation league and at Carbondale Middle School.
Born and raised in Carbondale, she is the daughter of Ann and Olle Lindgren.
Maya said she’s looking forward to her senior season at Roaring Fork, even with all of the COVID-19 public health protocols that will be among the challenges.
“We lost some talented girls (to graduation) last year, but I’m excited for some of these younger girls to come in and have a chance to step up and take some of the weight for the team,” Lindgren said.
Formal practices begin Monday, but the informal practices have been going well, she said.
“We’re working really well as a team,” she said. “With COVID, we all have to make sure we’re putting ourselves in smart situations and not risking the team.”
She’s also looking forward to the opportunity to play basketball with her younger sister, Nora, who is a freshman member of the Rams this season.
“That’s really exciting,” she said.
“One of the things I need to work on is the mental game,” she added. “Basketball is a really mental sport, so part of it for me is getting mentally and physically prepared for the college level.”
Rifle High School welcomes one of its own as the Bears’ newest athletics director
There’s no better time than now to focus on what truly matters.
“I think with anything like this — and I try to have this attitude my whole life — is that you always have two options,” Chris Bomba said. “You can either let it beat you down and keep you down, or you can find the positives in it and try to drive the right direction.”
“What’s positive right now? We have basketball and we have wrestling,” he added. “There are states out there that are canceling.”
Bomba, a former Western State (now Western Colorado University) thrower originally from Moffat County, started this week as Rifle High School’s new athletics director, taking over for Damon Wells. He’s now at the helm of helping to navigate Garfield District Re-2 sports through some of the most unique circumstances known to modern-day athletics in Colorado.
If there’s an activities administrator out there in the U.S. who isn’t inundated with meetings with fellow athletic directors, state officials on yet another COVID-19 update or season schedule tweaks, they’re probably not doing their job.
But the 42-year-old Rifle High School head track coach and science teacher maintains a positive outlook, not just toward his new role as athletics director, but for the students recently given the opportunity to enjoy their last hurrah before graduating.
Jan. 18 — the first official practice day of Season B sports across the state — couldn’t come any sooner.
“I lived through track last year when it got canceled,” Bomba said. “For the seniors, that was their last chance at state. And the crying? That was so hard. So for us to be able to have a season … I’m beside myself.
Bomba’s story takes place just about 90 miles up the road, in Craig. It was then, growing up a Bulldog, he was instilled with the inspiration to pursue a life of physical competition.
“I had a teacher in middle school that told me I needed to stick with sports,” he said. “It was one of the best things anybody could tell me. Sports have just been a mainstay in myself because of the positive things that I’ve gotten out of it.”
A 1997 graduate of Moffat County High School, Bomba would spend his time in high school learning to overcome adversity in varsity Bulldogs track and football.
“We had great coaches, we had great teammates at that time” he said. “We pushed ourselves to be the best. And if you weren’t — if you were slacking? It wasn’t like people were jerks about it, they were just like, C’mon, man … let’s go.’
“We built ourselves up and worked our tails off to do the things we did.”
Bomba went on to represent Moffat County for Western State, throwing two years for the Mountaineers. But it was right after graduation when he got his first taste of coaching.
Bomba said he’d coach two years at Western before deciding the $2,000-a-year paycheck wasn’t going to cut it, so he took up a full-time position in Cedaredge, coaching middle school basketball and football. He also helped coach high school track and football.
Then, around 2010, Bomba moved to Garfield County, where he began teaching at Rifle Middle School. He’d also start coaching volleyball, basketball and football.
And, for the past five years, Bomba has been head coach of Rifle High School track and field.
Rifle High School Principal John Arledge said he was excited to announce Bomba’s new position as athletic director.
“Chris comes to us with experience as a successful head track coach and someone that has experience at both the middle and high school level athletics,” he recently wrote to RHS staff. “Chris was a college track athlete at Western State and was also a successful high school athlete coming from Moffat County.
Arledge also described Bomba as an outstanding science teacher who had served as a special education teacher at the Rifle Middle School.
“We are lucky to have such a qualified candidate that was here internally, and it is our hope that RHS welcomes Chris in his new capacity,” Arledge wrote.
Bomba said such an undertaking during such weird times is something he’s ready for; that the challenges ahead will be tough now, but will make life a lot easier in the future.
“I think it’s going to make me — for me, personally — a stronger person,” he said. “And I think it’s gonna make our kids — even though they don’t see it yet — stronger. It’s going to be a great story and it’s going to be a great story for your kids later on in life.
“And next year, if it’s a normal year? Next year’s going to be easy.”