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Steamboat’s Nolting wins Longhorns Invite golf tourney; Aspen’s Miller takes second

High school sports are under way on the fairways — golf, that is.

While most prep sports don’t begin until this weekend and into next week, high school boys golf teams from around western Colorado were at the Basalt Longhorns Invitational at the River Valley Ranch Golf Course in Carbondale on Tuesday.

The tournament came on the heels of another multi-team meet at the Aspen Golf Course on Monday.

Winning the Longhorns Invite was Steamboat Springs senior Jeremy Nolting, with a 2-over-par score of 74. Aspen High School senior Carson Miller was second with a score of 75.

Basalt/Roaring Fork district team sophomore Jackson Stewart tied for third (76), along with Steamboat junior Michael Dinapoli and Gunnison sophomore Mason Weitman.

Aspen junior Sasha Forman and Basalt junior Garrett Exelbert shared the next spot at 77.

In the team scoring, Steamboat Springs took first with a team score of 226, followed by Aspen with 230 and Basalt with 232. The only other area school represented at the meet was Coal Ridge, which finished 10th out of 12 teams with a score of 280.

River Valley Ranch in Carbondale will also host one of the Class 3A regional tournaments in September.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Led by Rigney, Aspen High boys golf team makes big strides at home tournament

For a few minutes after his round, Aspen High School’s Ryan Rigney thought he had at least tied for the win at the Skiers Invitational on Monday at Aspen Golf Club. But like a buzzer-beater in basketball, Steamboat Springs senior Colin Kagan rolled into the clubhouse while correcting an error on his electronic scorecard, his final tally of 73 besting Rigney and Steamboat junior Michael Dinapoli by a stroke.

Nothing to fret about, says the young Rigney, as the sophomore was plenty happy with his 3-over-par 74 and the general improvement seen across the board from the AHS boys golf team.

“I had a good day. Nothing I can really do. Colin played great and props to him. But definitely a tough pill to swallow, seeing how he came out of nowhere. But it’s fine,” Rigney said. “I got a few more tournaments to go, a few more chances to prove myself.”

As a team, Aspen finished third overall in its lone home tournament of the fall. The Skiers shot a collective 239, finishing 12 back of fellow 3A powerhouse Colorado Academy (227). Steamboat Springs, out of Class 4A, shot 225 to take the win.

It was the best showing of the season so far for Aspen, which had gotten off to a slow start during their busy stretch of tournaments last week. This wasn’t surprising considering the Skiers have a brand new lineup compared to their state championship team from last fall. Seniors Will Stiller, Lucas Lee and Nic Pevny — the team’s star who won the program’s first individual state championship as a junior and now plays for the University of Denver — have graduated. The fourth member of that squad, junior Sky Sosna, isn’t with the team this fall.

So, players like Rigney, with limited varsity experience, have had to step up this season and carry on the program’s championship pedigree — AHS won its first state championship as a team back in 2018.

Players tee off during the Skiers Invitational on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, at Aspen Golf Club.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

“We are here to prove people wrong, I guess, because everyone thought that with the loss of Nic, Will, Lucas, and all of our top four, it will be a totally different team and we wouldn’t be as in contention as we are,” Rigney said. “The knowledge that everyone on our team can go low and can do it, I think we are here to show everyone that we are still the same Aspen, even if we don’t have the same names.”

AHS senior Peter de Wetter, playing on Aspen’s second varsity team, had a strong showing Monday, shooting 78, second-best among the Skiers to tie for ninth place. Junior Miles Butera shot 82 to tie for 16th place, junior Sasha Forman shot 83 to tie for 18th place, and sophomore Jack Carolan shot 84 to tie for 23rd place.

AHS senior Carson Miller shot 88 to tie for 33rd place, junior Aidan Tracey shot 92 to finish in 44th, freshman Leo Roennau shot 95 to tie for 49th, junior Nik Kuhn shot 96 to tie for 51st, and sophomore Dominik Montalbano shot 109 to finish in 61st place.

An Aspen player lines up a putt during the Skiers Invitational on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, at Aspen Golf Club.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Aspen’s five-man “A” team on Monday consisted of Rigney, Butera, Forman, Carolan and Miller, all players vying to be part of the four-man regional squad at the end of the season. De Wetter, while playing for that second varsity group, is certainly a strong regional candidate as well.

“Definitely helped me substantially as far as getting over the hump of knowing that I can compete with these top guys,” Rigney said of his round on Monday and the confidence it gave him. “I can play with them and if I play my game, I’ll be all right. That definitely helped. But seeing as our team did well, that helped my mind substantially even more so … everyone is honing in and getting ready for this regional tournament and it’s great to see.”

Should the weather hold up, Aspen is scheduled to play again Tuesday at Basalt High School’s home tournament, held at River Valley Ranch in Carbondale. Like it did in 2020, RVR will host this year’s regional tournament on Sept. 20, stepping in for another site that had to cancel. This means Tuesday’s round will provide the AHS players with the rare in-season chance to familiarize themselves with the course that will determine who goes to state.

“Everyone is getting ready and really it’s all preparation for regionals,” Rigney said of the in-season tournaments. “That round (Tuesday at RVR), I’m thinking of it more as a practice round than a real tournament. Because everything comes and goes with this regional tournament. This is just another chance to see the course before it happens and to really test how I can play it, how our team can play it, and how we can do.”

Basalt, which had gotten off to a much better start this season than even the Skiers, didn’t fare quite as well on Monday in Aspen, tying for fifth as a team with Vail Mountain after shooting a collective 247. Eagle Valley, another bigger 4A school, was solo fourth at 242.

Sophomore Jackson Stewart, the son of coach Travis Stewart, led the Longhorns by shooting 78 to finish in that four-way tie for ninth place. Junior Garrett Exelbert shot 80 to finish 14th, junior Alec Claassen shot 89 to tie for 36th, junior Jase Joslin shot 90 to finish 42nd, and junior Ian Cole shot 94 to tie for 46th place.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Side track keeping Air Force recruit Ella Johnson on home front as assistant coach

Ella Johnson gave thought to the risk when she decided to close out her senior year at Glenwood Springs High School playing soccer and make a bid for another shot at the Class 4A state track meet podium finish.

Johnson, who was recruited last fall to run track and cross country for the Air Force Academy, was right on track in late April, having qualified to race in the 3200 meters and as a member of the Demons’ 4×800 relay team at the Colorado High School Track and Field Championships in May.

She would have been a top contender, having placed fourth at state in the 3200 her junior year and helping that year’s 4×800 relay team to a third-place medal.

Johnson was just returning from a backpacking trip with her outdoor education class on April 26 when she made the decision to meet up with her dad, Erik Johnson, in Fruita so they could drive to a soccer game in Montrose that had major playoff implications.

“I wasn’t even supposed to play,” she recalls. “But we made it just before halftime, and I got into the game.”

With about 2 minutes left to play, Johnson was dribbling the ball downfield when it rolled a little too far in front of her.

“I stepped with my left leg to try to maintain control, and my knee hyperextended,” she said.

An MRI a couple of days later confirmed her worst fear — a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

“I was a little bit worried, just with the craziness of the schedule, and also the risk of being injured,” Johnson said of her decision to continue as a dual-sport athlete, which she had done in her previous spring seasons at GSHS.

“When I talked to my coach at the Air Force Academy, he said that I’ll never get another chance to play soccer again, and so he encouraged it,” she said. “And I wasn’t ready to let it go yet, either. So I was happy that I got to play one last time.”

She navigated having to miss track practices by running and training on her own so she could stay in top track form.

When she hurt her knee, her immediate thought was not being able to go to the Air Force Academy as planned, where she had already been accepted. The injury was an automatic medical disqualification for her cross country and track commitment, at least for the coming year, so she decided to wait a year and reapply for admission to the military academy starting in 2023-24.

“When it all began to settle in, that’s when I was worried that my soccer team wouldn’t be able to make it to the playoffs, and that I wouldn’t be able to end my soccer career on a good note, and that I wouldn’t get to go to state for track,” she said. “That was a bummer, but long term it was more about the future.”

Johnson is now planning to take a part-time load of online classes through Brigham Young University so she gets a jump on her academic credits but doesn’t lose a year of athletics eligibility, while keeping an eye toward being readmitted to the AFA.

She’s also undergoing intensive physical therapy so she can resume her commitment to the Falcons cross country and track teams.

In the meantime, she approached GSHS cross country coach Aidan Goldie about helping to coach the Demons this fall, and was added to the roster of assistant coaches.

Glenwood’s Ella Johnson is first across the finish line in the Longhorn Invitational cross country meet on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

“I thought it would be a good way to stay involved,” Johnson said. “My dad has been a soccer coach since I was little, so coaching has been in the family and I always thought I would want to do it at some point. So, this is just a little introduction to that.”

Goldie was happy to have her continue as part of the team.

“Even when I was coaching Ella, she was already like the fourth coach on our team just based on her leadership skills and the respect she had among her teammates,” Goldie said.

Since she’s not too far removed from her own preps experience, she figures she may have some advice for those who might want to consider running in college — and whether it’s a good idea to double-up with two sports in a season. 

“I would still do it over again,” Johnson said. “I just love both sports too much to not do them both.”

“But it is critical that (student-athletes) have good time management and know that your injury risk might increase because you’re doing a lot of training all the time. A lot of it is just making sure that you’re recovering properly and doing all that you can to prevent any injuries from coming up.”

Goldie agreed with that approach.

“From a coaches’ perspective, I always look at it as I’m coaching the human first, the student second and the runner third,” he said. “Whatever makes them happiest; I just want to be able to support their goals and dreams the best I can.”

Johnson said she also looks forward to coaching some of the athletes she helped mentor the past few seasons as a teammate. 

Practices for most fall sports officially began this week, as school is set to start Aug. 17 for the Roaring Fork Schools. The Demons’ boys and girls cross country teams open the season at the Grand Junction Central Warrior Invitational on Aug. 20.

The Glenwood Demon XC Invitational also returns this season, set for Sept. 17 at the CMC-Spring Valley Gates Soccer Fields complex. And, Glenwood Springs is due to host the 4A regionals on Oct. 20 at a location to be determined.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Three Rivers Little League’s late rally falls just short to Louisiana in regional play

VAIL — Playing in 100-degree heat, a four-run fifth-inning rally wasn’t enough for the Three Rivers Little League 12U baseball team in its second southwest regional tournament game on Friday afternoon in Waco, Texas. The Eagle County-heavy all-star team fell 8-4 to Louisiana’s Eastbank Little League to end the season.

“We knew eventually they’d start to bleed through,” Ben Dodds said of his team’s late-game hitting.

Dodds said Louisiana was a more “fundamentally sound” group than the team’s first opponent.

“They had arms, they had bats,” Dodds said. “The Louisiana team were men; mustaches at the age of 12. They were bigger than me.”

Logan Nelson hit a two-out triple in the top of the first inning to get things rolling for Louisiana. A walk and an error brought Nelson home for the game’s first points. The inning would end with Hayden Nunez stealing home while TRLL secured the final out by catching Drew Stromboe trying to steal second base.

All three TRLL batters grounded in the team’s at-bat. It was more three-up, three-down baseball for both teams in the second inning, as well.

Nelson led the charge in Louisiana’s five-run third inning with an RBI double and a steal of home. The 7-0 lead grew to 8-0 in the fifth inning when Nunez scored for the second time.

Carson Hooper from Three Rivers puts a ball in play at the LLWS regional play on Friday.
Sutton Dodds/Courtesy photo

In the bottom of the fifth, the TRLL bats finally found life. Ryder Strablizky and Kasen Aguirre advanced on walks before a Sanders Dodds single loaded the bases. Evan Neuman hit a bases-clearing triple to make it 8-3 before scoring on a passed ball pitch to make it 8-4.

“They were playing us very shallow, but we hadn’t proved anything yet,” Ben Dodds said. Neuman’s blast went 30-feet over the outfielder’s head. “That’s what got us started. Our energy and our spirits increased. It brought the joy back to what we experienced at districts and states.”

TRLL held Louisiana scoreless in the top of the sixth before attempting a valiant rally in the bottom of the final inning.

Tavin Shreeve hit a one-out single, followed by Strablizky advancing after being hit by a pitch. With two runners on base, Aguirre grounded out, advancing Shreeve and Strablizky to third and second, respectively. Hudson Rozga drew another walk, loading the bases as Dodds stepped to the plate.

Dodds patiently let the first three pitches go across the plate, but grounded a 1-2 pitch into a fielder’s choice to end the game. With the loss, TRLL also saw its season — which began in mid-March — come to a close, having claimed district and state titles.

“Phenomenal year,” Ben Dodds said. “This has been a very long run. It’s the longest run they’ve ever had.”

Looking back, the coach felt the team’s self-inflicted wounds were decisive in both games.

“What we’re learning is that errors kill you,” he said. “We know that about this game, but they really hurt us. We kind of beat ourselves a little bit.”

The coach also said part of it may have been TRLL being on the big stage for the first time.

“You’ve got cameras all over the field. I was mic’d up for both games — I was trying to have fun with Danny Graves and Keith Moreland,” Dodds said of the former MLB pros in the Longhorn Network’s booth.

On Aug. 3, there was a media day where coaches met with announcers. “It was a full production,” Dodds said.

“We told the guys after the game: there’s a lot of baseball left in your young life to be played,” he continued. “Be proud of how far you’ve gotten and now we just want to continue to get better and better.”

In the junior division southwest regional in Albuquerque, New Mexico, TRLL’s 14U team fell 16-3 to Texas East in its first game. TRLL plays at 11:00 a.m. Sunday in the double-elimination tournament.

rsederquist@vaildaily.com

Three Rivers Little League 14U baseball team is getting ready for regional play

In capturing the aura around the Three Rivers Little League (TRLL) 14U team’s trailblazing playoff run, innocence is bliss.

With a Tanner Roberts-led run to the regionals four years ago standing as the TRLL boards’ only memory of a baseball team making it out of the district and state rounds, it’s fair to label TRLL’s three squads (12U, 14U and softball juniors) headed to their respective regions as greenhorns, at least in one sense.

Underdogs? Too far.

“I think they’re feeling pretty good about their chances of winning,” 14U coach August Wittenberg said about his 13 athletes, nine of whom hail from Eagle County (the other four are Roaring Fork Valley products). 

Wittenberg and his club recently dug up a Facebook live video of the 2019 regional tournament. The vibe during the scouting report lacked one important feeling: intimidation.

“They looked good, but it looked like we could compete,” he said. “Watching it, (the team) was feeling like, ‘Yeah, they’re going to be better than state, but not so much better that we can’t be the team that wins and goes to the World Series.’”  

At Monday’s practice, the boys were getting antsy.

“They don’t want to wait until next week,” Wittenberg said.

On Aug. 5, the TRLL 14U all-stars will face Texas East in the first round of the Junior League Baseball Southwest regional tournament in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Winners of the six-team, double-elimination bracket earn the right to contest the World Series in Taylor, Michigan, from Aug. 14-21.

For casual sporting fans, Little League likely drums up images of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, stadiums with lawn chair-lounging parents making ESPN debuts in the outfield ‘bleachers.’ That would be the 12U division — TRLL has a team in that regional in Waco, Texas, too — but in 14U, the field is metaphorically (and literally) different.

“We’re excited to go to Albuquerque, but we don’t know what we’re going to get,” Wittenberg explained of his opponents. “We don’t know if they’ve had the same depletion from travel ball or what the competition is going to be like.”

While 12U players, lured to the lights of Williamsport, aren’t tempted by traveling teams or locked into high school summer league commitments, the 14U landscape is a little more of a mystery. TRLL took a collaborative approach this year, coming alongside players and clubs so they didn’t have to choose one over the other.

“We’ve been working the last couple years with the local travel teams to try to make it so that the kids can do both,” Wittenberg explained.

The result was that his all-star team — the collection of TRLL’s best players from its Eagle County and Roaring Fork-based regular-season teams — didn’t congregate for a full-team practice once before the district tournament in early July.

The Three Rivers Little League 14U all-stars kick off the regional tournament in Albuquerque on Aug. 5 against Texas East.
Emily Bonfoey/Courtesy photo

“They were all playing and getting practice and live-game action, so we weren’t worried about it,” he said of athletes’ participation with Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain High School programs, and/or the Glenwood Goats or Aspen Colts traveling squads.

“Because we did this, we really had the best kids from Vail to Aspen.” 

After leading throughout the district championship, the team survived a late comeback from Colorado River Valley. Trailing 10-9 in the top of the seventh inning, William Townsend singled on a 1-1 count, driving in two runs to propel TRLL to a comeback 11-10 win.

The team rolled through states with a couple of mercy-rule-induced wins, defeating Academy 16-0 in the title match.

“It was pretty equal of everyone helping out,” Wittenberg said. “We don’t have, ‘Oh, we’re not going to be able to go without this guy.’ What I was really proud of was that our boys on defense didn’t make any mistakes and the pitching was flawless. It was really cool to see.” 

If the team is to continue on its postseason run, pitching will be key. Little League position rules and pitch-count regulations mean navigating a four (if they win each game) and potentially six-game (a scenario instigated if they lose their second game but proceed to win out) tournament requires a deep bullpen. Wittenberg believes his crew, though not particularly tested in the local rounds, is well-suited for the challenge.

“If you want to go to the World Series, with pitch counts, to be able to have 7-8 strong pitchers is really going to be able to help us,” he said. “Choosing who is going to start that first game is a tough choice because they’re all so good. I think that is going to be a real advantage for us down there.” 

Townsend’s dad, Jeff, a former University of Kentucky pitcher with 95-mph heat, is a nice asset on the coaching staff.

“He can throw like 500 pitches a day and never get tired. It’s unbelievable,” Wittenberg laughed of his human batting practice machine.

Even with the ‘late’ start of full-team practices, the team’s chemistry is on point.

“We’ve really kind of found the positions certain people play and I think they’re getting used to each other and being able to focus on their position,” said Wittenberg. “These kids have been getting to know each other — they’re all super happy and excited.”

rsederquist@vaildaily.com

Three Rivers Little League teams win state tournaments; regional play is now at plate

VAIL — Summer is always better when the hometown baseball squad is relevant. Sorry, Rockies — make room for the Three Rivers Little Leaguers (TRLL).

With the juniors softball team already clinching the state title earlier this month, TRLL added two more teams to the list of state champions on Monday. The 12U and 14U TRLL all-star teams will advance to respective regional tournaments for a chance to play in the Little League World Series. The 11U team lost a tight battle in Gypsum on Tuesday, 6-5 to Academy (Colorado Springs) in that division’s state title game.

The 12U team — which plays in the ‘majors’ division, broadcast internationally every summer on ESPN from Williamsport, PA — continued its dominant play from districts — TRLL has outscored opponents 62-12 in its five postseason games — in the double-elimination state tournament in Thornton. District 2 champions South Boulder fell to district 5 representative Academy (Colorado Springs) in the first round Friday to face TRLL, who received a first-round bye.

On Saturday, TRLL won 15-0 in three innings, led by Hudson Rozga, who struck out five of the eight batters he faced in 1 2/3 innings of work. Sanders Dodds closed out the game, which ended by mercy rule. Aspen’s Clayton Folk hit a three-run home run in the second inning to put the game away early as TRLL coasted with 10 hits.

After defeating South Boulder again, Academy returned to face TRLL in the 12U title match on Monday night at Northern Lights Field.

The Colorado Springs club scored two in the first, but the local squad rallied to make it 3-2 after one. A double by Kasen Aguirre and a home run by Evan Neuman, who finished the game 3-for-3 at the plate, fueled another 8-0 run. Tavin Shreeve was brilliant on the mound, going all four innings and allowing just five hits and three earned runs.

“Our pitchers are dialed in each game and do what they need to do to stay focused under pressure,” said pitching coach Ben Dodds. “They keep their heads up and battle each pitch.”

In the fourth inning, Hunter Uzdavinis’ walk-off hit put the 10-run rule into effect, winning the Colorado state championship game.

“These boys are excited to head to Waco, TX and start their hopeful journey to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA,” stated Dodds in a post-game email.

The TRLL 12U team kicks off regional play against Oklahoma at 4 p.m. Aug. 4 at Marvin Norcross Stadium in Waco. They will play on the Longhorn Network and could be televised on ESPN if they reach the semifinals, according to Dodds.

The “faithful support of the Steadman Clinic” has been crucial to the growth of Little League in Eagle County, Dodds noted.

“Without their sponsorship our local league does not happen,” he stated. With four teams making formidable trips in the coming weeks, TRLL is hopeful for community support in raising additional funds to help with travel.

14U RECAP

In the 14U championship game, the Three Rivers juniors defeated Academy 16-0 on Monday.

Four pitchers combined to throw a shutout, with Christopher Hays starting, Elijah Kelley taking the win and Lucas Mile and Hans Wittenberg helping close things out from the bullpen.

Three Rivers racked up 13 hits on the day, with Jack Reed and James Bivins each racking up two hits apiece. Bivins also had four stole bases and his team didn’t commit a single error in the field.

“I am so proud of our team. Tonight’s game was flawless in all aspects of the game,” commented manager August Wittenberg.

“These boys are so supportive of each other, so selfless. Though some kids might be better than others, each kid was a significant contributor to this team accomplishment. And most important, they have so much fun together, and me and the other coaches love coaching them.”

rsederquist@vaildaily.com

Three Rivers Little League teams are moving on in postseason play

VAIL — Three Rivers Little League teams have enjoyed a bevy of postseason success, winning three Little League District 1 titles in Grand Junction over the weekend and qualifying a softball team to the Little League regional tournament as well.

The 11U, Majors (12U) and Juniors baseball teams are headed to the state tournament and the Juniors softball team, being the only team in the state playing, qualified for the regional in New Mexico later this month. The 10U, 50/70 and Majors softball teams also made their respective district finals as well, but lost in the championship games.

“The Three Rivers Little League board is thrilled to have had such great success in our season and postseason,” said president Holly Strablizky.

The volunteer-driven league provides baseball and softball opportunities for boys and girls from Vail to Glenwood Springs to Aspen. Minors (7 to 10-years-old), Majors (11 and 12-year-olds), Intermediate 50/70 (12 and 13-year-olds) and Juniors (13 and 14-year-olds) as well as two softball divisions contest 16-24 games between early March and the end of May, culminating in a division playoffs.

After the regular season concludes, an All-Star team forms with the league’s best players in each age group. Those teams contest a district tournament, followed by a state tournament, where winners advance to a regional. From there, teams can qualify for the Little League World Series.

In 2021, the TRLL All-Star Juniors baseball and softball clubs won both districts and state, but were unable to contest regions due to COVID-19.

As the Vail Daily reported in an April feature on the league, Three Rivers has grown from a then-record 400 participants last year to 470 this season. Eagle County teams have gradually started to find themselves more consistently at the top of the season-long standings, a spot that had in the past belonged mostly to Roaring Fork clubs.

“I think a win for Eagle County is we have been winning the divisional championships games over the last few years whether it’s juniors or majors,” Major’s assistant coach Ben Dodds said in April.

Three Rivers Little League Majors softball team after placing second in the district 1 tournament over the weekend.
Three Rivers Little League/Courtesy photo

“We’re building competitive teams.”

Last year, the league contained one Majors softball team and one Juniors softball team for regular season play. This year there were four Majors teams and two Juniors.

“So the interest in softball is peaking and we’re really proud that we have a venue for these young female athletes to play,” commented Strablizky.

The Majors softball squad lost its first game before winning its second, allowing them to face Colorado River Valley in the district final, where the team’s season ultimately ended with a 22-5 loss.

Head coach Tom Dion and assistants Jason Neuman and Dodds led the 12U team over Grand Mesa 14-2 to win the Little League Majors district title on Saturday. At the 7 p.m. start, the temperature was 100 degrees, according to Dodds. After scoring three runs in the top of the second inning, Three Rivers “broke the game open in the third,” as WesternSlopeNow.com reported.

The game only lasted four innings thanks to Eagle’s Hudson Rozga’s lights-out pitching at Files Park in Grand Junction. Aspen’s Clayton Folk went 4-for-4 from the plate to lead Three Rivers offensively.

The 12U state tournament begins on Saturday in Thornton, where Three Rivers has a first-round bye. The team will play at 10 a.m. at Northern Lights Little League Fields.

“What’s exciting about this team (players from Eagle to Aspen) is that this is the only division that can head to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA,” stated Dodds in an email.

If the local team wins state, the boys would head to Waco, Texas, for regions, where they can earn a chance to potentially play in front of millions of viewers on ESPN in the World Series.

The 11U squad will have the added bonus of hosting the state tournament, which runs July 15-19. July 15-18 will be at Eagle Fairgrounds with the possibility of a game in Gypsum if the tournament extends to the 19th.

Three Rivers 11U team also dispatched Grand Mesa to win its district championship, using a 6-run second inning en route to a 7-3 win. Colton Folk drove in two runs on a triple and Henry Reintjes and Ladson Whitaker “turned in stellar diving catches in the win,” as WesternSlopeNow.com reported.

The Three Rivers Little League Juniors defeated Colorado River Valley 11-10 to win the District 1 championship over the weekend.
Emily Bonfoey/Courtesy photo

The most drama-filled tournament involved the 14U team. Trailing 10-9 in the top of the seventh inning, William Townsend singled on a 1-1 count, driving in two runs to propel Three Rivers to a comeback win over Colorado River Valley 11-10.

James Bivins started on the mound for Three Rivers and struck out five in just two innings, allowing no hits or runs and walking one. Anthony Ehlert went 4-for-4 from the plate as Three Rivers had 12 hits. The real story occurred along the basepaths, as Three Rivers stole 13 bases to advance to clinch a state tournament bid.

rsederquist@vaildaily.com

Preps: Aspen’s Persson finishes 12th, Woodrow 54th at 3A state golf tourney

Aspen High School freshmen Audrey Woodrow, left, and Lenna Persson smile prior to a practice round on Friday, May 27, 2022, at Aspen Golf Club, ahead of the state tournament.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The Aspen High School girls golf season wrapped up Wednesday at The Broadlands, with Lenna Persson finishing 12th overall and Audrey Woodrow finishing 54th in Broomfield. Both were freshmen playing in the Colorado Class 3A state championship for the first time.

Persson, who won the regional tournament in Alamosa last week, struggled in the first round on Tuesday, shooting 17-over-par 89. She had a much better second round on Wednesday, shooting 11-over 83, a round that included her lone birdie of the tournament, a four on the par 5 15th hole.

Persson finished collectively with a 172, well back of the 144 posted by 3A state champion Maddy Bante, a sophomore from St. Mary’s Academy.

Woodrow’s best round came on Tuesday when she posted 102. She slipped to 106 on Wednesday. A total of 84 golfers played over the two days.

Led by Bante, St. Mary’s easily took the team title with a collective 480, beating runner-up Prospect Ridge by 43 strokes. Kent Denver was third with 540. With only two golfers — three were needed — Aspen did not record a team score.

With sophomore Brooke O’Sullivan, who sat out this spring due to injury, set to return for her junior season, the AHS girls golf team should be set up well going forward.

Aspen players named all-state in lacrosse

The all-state lacrosse teams were announced this week by CHSAA, with Aspen High School having a few players represented for both boys and girls.

In boys lacrosse, AHS senior defender Carter Schmela was named second team all-state in Class 4A. Earning honorable mention honors from Aspen were freshman attacker Tucker Devlin and junior midfielder Judd Gurtman. Glenwood Springs senior midfielder Jonas Kohout also made honorable mention.

The boys 4A player of the year was Air Academy’s Grant Rodny and the coach of the year was Denver South’s Paul Mahoney.

In girls lacrosse, AHS sophomore midfielder Clea Welden earned second team all-state honors in 4A, as did Roaring Fork senior defender Gracie Pratt and junior attacker Angelina Montemayor.

The honorable mention list included AHS senior attackers Lindsey Heinecken, Georgia Hollander and Mia Seltzer, junior midfielder Michaela Kenny and freshman midfielder Darienne Kenny. Roaring Fork junior midfielder Sophie Hodgson and senior goalie Yahjairi Castillon also were honorable mention.

The girls 4A player of the year was Golden’s Ava Ganter and coach of the year was Green Mountain’s Maddi Ossello.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Summit girls rugby team says sacrifice, commitment led to second at nationals

Summit Tigers junior Joselin Roque streaks down the field for a try during Summit's victory at their home Summit 7s tournament at Tiger Stadium in Breckenridge.
John Hanson/For the Summit Daily News

FRISCO — Excelling to the highest level in sports often requires not only an immense amount of hard work but also requires a good amount of sacrifices to be made.

Look at any successful athlete who has gone on to win a national championship. They are usually the first to wake up in the morning and the first to lay their heads on their pillow in order to recover from the day.

The Summit High School girls rugby team made this type of sacrifice in the team’s preparation for the 22nd annual High School Girls Rugby Tournament in Cleveland, Ohio, from May 20-22.

The high school regular season occurs in the fall, so preparing for the tournament meant members of the team had to wake up early before school — most of the time with snow blanketing the ground — in order to train for the tournament.

What made the sacrifice even more impressive was that many members also participate in spring sports, which made for extremely long days. Those players would attend after-school practices and games after a day that would typically start with 6:30 a.m. rugby training.

Every girl on the Tigers’ team made a commitment, and it paid off. The Summit girls rugby team placed second in the tournament against challenging opponents. What made this feat even more impressive is that the Tigers had to learn a whole new style of play.

During the fall season, the Tigers play with seven players on the field at one time. For the tournament in Ohio, the girls played in the “15s” division, which means the field had more than twice as many girls on it at one time.

In the preparation leading up to the tournament, a lot of time was spent getting used to this new style of play.

Longtime head coach Karl Barth compared the switch from seven players to 15 like switching from seven-man football to 11-man football.

“It was something different,” incoming senior Citlali Licea said. “It was an experience trying to learn and adapt and figure out the game we play now in comparison to the game we play in 15s, which is a lot more aggressive and physical.”

“The biggest challenge was the communication piece and keeping 15 players on the same page during a whole 45-minute game,” recent graduate Olyvia Snyder said of the challenges while learning to play 15s.

Prior to preparing for the rugby tournament, the Summit girls rugby team had close to zero experience playing rugby with 15 players on the field, so the players scrimmaged two other teams from Fort Collins and Glendale, who came together to form a 15s team.

With the scrimmage occurring the morning after prom, many juniors and seniors made another sacrifice by getting up early for the event in order to be prepared for the tournament.

Though the scrimmage did not portray the caliber of teams Summit would face in the national tournament, a lot was gained from the scrimmage.

“It was very difficult at the beginning because we had a lot of sessions inside with backs by themselves and forwards by themselves,” incoming senior Paola Arredondo said. “Once we came together, it was tricky to see it all come together, but once we started playing against Denver, we definitely clicked a little bit more.”

The sacrifices that were made by Summit were repaid with how the team played in Ohio. The Tigers faced Hamilton in the quarterfinal match. Snyder, Arredondo and Larissa Mero led the team to a 20-0 shutout win, according to Barth.

The quarterfinal win by the Tigers led the team to the semifinal match, where the team took on the No. 2 ranked Catholic Memorial. The Tigers played as a complete unit in the semifinals with many players touching the ball and contributing to the Tigers’ second shutout of the weekend, beating Catholic Memorial, 29-0.

Arrendondo, Pelham Wagenseil, Brooke Kaspryzk and Ashley Misch all scored tries while Joselin Roque and Ella Snyder successfully made conversions.

Summit faced the No. 1 seed, Divine Savior Holy Angels, in the finals. Divine Savior Holy Angels’s team was the returning champion from 2019 after the tournament was not held the last two years due to the pandemic.

In the championship match, Divine Savior Holy Angels, whose mascot is the Dashers, got off to a strong start and made it hard for Summit to see any strong offensive opportunities.

The Dashers scored two tries to go up 15-0 before Summit started to control the game by maintaining possession in its own offensive zone. The two teams battled in the second half with the Dashers slowing down the Tigers’ offense, but Summit was able to put points on the board before the final whistle. Summit lost to the Dashers, 15-5, to take home the second place trophy from the tournament.

“After the first game, we gained a lot of confidence. We realized that we could win if we really tried,” Licea said, “and we did for the most part. Other than winning that title, I think we won.”

Bringing back the second-place trophy to Summit made the commitment and effort worthwhile.

For Snyder, a graduating senior and Harvard commit, the second place finish felt especially sweet since her weekdays were full of activity between rugby, school, soccer and track — all while trying to enjoy her last few weeks at Summit High School.

“It was definitely a huge commitment that a lot of people made,” Snyder said. “What really drew us in was that we love the community that the sport gives us and our team is so tight.”

The Summit girls rugby team is already looking forward to the next challenge in its path: a 15th consecutive state title in the fall.

The close-knit team has already spent some time forming relationships with incoming ninth graders who are interested in joining the program.

“Honestly I don’t think our team chemistry can get any better,” Arredondo said. “We just played how we always play, and I think that’s how we got so far. I always trust my team, and I love them because we have such strong connections.”

cjones@summitdaily.com

Basalt High’s Ava Lane keeps track season going, breaks two PRs in Alabama races

Basalt’s Ava Lane, far left wearing bib No. 1, competes in the RunningLane Track Championships on Saturday, May 28, 2022, in Huntsville, Alabama.
Chris Lane/Courtesy photo

Still in peak shape coming off the high school track season, Ava Lane decided to step outside of her comfort zone and take part in the RunningLane Track Championships.

Held Saturday at Milton Frank Stadium in Huntsville, Alabama, it brought together some of the top prep runners from across the country.

Results can be found here.

“Doing races out of high school, outside of the normal races, is so important. Not only for dropping your times but also for your mental health to not put so much pressure on one certain race,” Lane said. “I love going to different places and getting a lot of perspective. There are a lot more runners than just the girls in Colorado, so I think it’s a really fun experience. It can be humbling at times, because you get to see girls that aren’t just in your 3A state race.”

Lane, a standout athlete for Basalt High School who just wrapped up her junior season, left Alabama very much satisfied with her performances, which included personal bests in both races. The highlight was the girls 800-meter run, where Lane was able to compete in the championship race and finished eighth with a time of 2 minutes, 13.83 seconds. She was the top runner from Colorado in that race, with Isis Grant of Georgia winning in 2:08.22.

“There were so many talented runners in that, so that was an insane race,” Lane said of the 800. “Just a cherry on top from states. There were some really fast girls in that heat and it was fun to be a part of a faster group of girls than I normally would be.”

Last month at the Colorado high school state track and field championships in Lakewood, Lane finished fourth in the 800-meter run in Class 3A in 2:14.82. Her junior BHS teammate, Katelyn Maley, won that race in 2:13.27 for her latest state title.

Lane was 10th (5:10.49) and Maley fourth (5:00.06) in the mile at the Lakewood finale.

Basalt’s Ava Lane, far right wearing bib No. 1, prepares to compete in the RunningLane Track Championships on Saturday, May 28, 2022, in Huntsville, Alabama.
Chris Lane/Courtesy photo

The dynamic duo have been nearly joined at the hip since joining the Longhorn teams — both also are standouts in cross country, where Maley is the two-time defending state champion — but Lane saw the Alabama races as a way to venture out on her own for once.

“I’m just so grateful for her running with me. She has always been able to push me beyond what I thought I could run,” Lane said of Maley. “As much as I love running with Kate, I probably at some point need to learn how to race on my own and do warm-ups on my own and have a little bit of individuality there. Learn to find my own way a little bit, but I wouldn’t be able to do it without her in the first place.”

Even though she wasn’t in the championship heat for the mile in Alabama, Lane was almost more ecstatic about that result than the 800, which she had been putting more attention toward during the high school season. Lane ran the mile in 5:03.82, a significant bit faster than what she ran in Lakewood, placing her seventh of 18 runners in her heat.

Air Academy sophomore Bethany Michalak won the championship race with a time of 4:44.46 in Alabama.

“I’ve been focusing a little bit more on the 800, so I was really happy to get in the low five-minute range. From here my goal would be to break five minutes, since I’m so close,” Lane said of the mile. “I was really happy with two PRs at the end of the season, so it overall was a successful, fun trip.”

Basalt’s Ava Lane, far left, stands on the podium at the RunningLane Track Championships on Saturday, May 28, 2022, in Huntsville, Alabama.
Chris Lane/Courtesy photo

Lane hopes to carry this momentum into another national race this coming weekend, this time in Oregon, before possibly taking some time off.

Prior to August, when BHS cross country practice will get underway for the fall season, Lane plans to put some time in visiting a handful of schools as she dives into the daunting college recruitment process.

“I would love to run in college and be able to see what else is out there. If these girls are running crazy fast times, I know those college girls are going to be pretty quick,” Lane said.

“At the moment it is my dream to run in college. I just love the competitive aspect of the sport and I love the places it takes me and I meet so many new people. Everything that surrounds running is such a wholesome and crazy experience.”

acolbert@aspentimes.com