| AspenTimes.com

Glenwood’s Leo Mireles signs with Colorado Mesa University for soccer

One of the best players in Glenwood Springs High School soccer’s long history accomplished a first under veteran coach Wayne Smith Wednesday, as standout senior midfielder Leo Mireles signed with Division II Colorado Mesa University, becoming the first DII player under Smith’s guidance. The signing comes one year after Smith sent his first player ever — Alonso Pacheco — to the collegiate level at DIII Elmhurst College.

Mireles earned the 4A Western Slope League co-player of the year award in his senior season, as well as a first-team selection, and earned first team all-state after leading the Demons to the 4A state semifinals in a year in which the senior midfielder scored 14 goals and added 18 assists. For his career, Mireles — who played all four years on varsity — finished with 30 goals and 31 assists, marking one of the best varsity career’s in Glenwood history.

“It was amazing to get those awards,” Mireles said. “At the beginning of the year, I didn’t believe that I would get those awards, but after the year I was proud of myself because I worked so hard and things were starting to come together. My goal was to take our team far into the playoffs, so to be able to accomplish those goals and to get those awards was unbelievable.

“When it comes to my standing in program history, I don’t really put much thought into that. That’s for other people to discuss,” Mireles added. “I don’t like talking about myself in that regard; I don’t like to label myself like that. That said, I definitely worked hard for it. It just feels really good to hear people say that about me.”

Now, Mireles heads to the collegiate level with the Mavericks, allowing him to stay close to home, while also breaking new barriers for the Glenwood program.

“It just means so much,” said Mireles. “It means so much to the program and to my teammates. It shows my teammates that they don’t need to go to Denver all the time for exposure in soccer, and the style of play that Wayne likes to play as a coach works.”

One of the best midfielders in the state, in terms of possession and pushing the play forward for Glenwood, Mireles set the school record for assists in a career with 31 and played an integral part in the Demons’ deep state playoff run last fall. With the ball routinely on his left boot, Mireles made players around him better, all while remaining an unselfish player.

Unlike other soccer players in the valley, Mireles remained local throughout his four years, playing local club soccer with Glenwood Springs, making a trip to Europe with Scandia United. That local development showed not only the underclassmen in the varsity program at Glenwood that a collegiate scholarship can be achieved here in the valley through soccer, but also the young kids in the valley playing youth soccer. Smith was quick to add that Mireles took advantage of every single opportunity offered to him throughout his career, allowing him to succeed and grow as a player to what he is now.

“We’ve now proven that it’s possible; it’s a real achievable dream,” Smith said. “That’s what we want to do here is develop good, young men and talented soccer players. That’s what we set out to do early on here and it took some time, but now we’re sending kids to college to play soccer and we’re having success as a program. That’s huge for us. The success we had last season as a program was key for us, and hopefully that opens up some doors for more opportunities for younger kids in our program.”

The success last season was part of a long-term progression that saw the Demons improve from 7-8 in 2016 to 9-6 in 2017 before putting it all together for a program-best 13-5-1 in 2018, culminating in a trip to the 4A state semifinals at Legacy Stadium at Cherry Creek High School. At the center of that was Mireles, who played within the system set in place by Smith and his assistant coaches, leading to loads of success as a team.

“He’s just such a creative midfielder,” Smith said. “He’s the type of player you want to have. I’ve been quoted as saying that talent is overrated; it’s what you do with that talent. It’s how you apply it to the team.

“The one thing I always loved about Leo is that he’s humble in a sense,” Smith added. “Obviously, he knows he’s a great player, but he is such a great fit for the team and the style of play that we look to achieve. He’s not a showboat or a ball-hog or anything like that; he understands what our system is, implements it and fits really well into it because he’s the guy that creates a lot of our attacking stuff.”

Despite all of the talent on the field for the Demons last season, and with the attack starting and often ending with Mireles, the senior captain was quick to point out it was much more than just talent for Glenwood last season. It was discipline, and that should help the future Maverick succeed at the collegiate level under CMU coach Todd Padgett.

“In previous years we didn’t really have that discipline from our senior leaders, and that’s something we aimed to change last year,” Mireles said. “That discipline was the difference against high-level teams, and that really helped carry us to the semifinals.”

Following a great senior season and a tremendous career at Glenwood, Mireles said the decision to head to CMU under Padgett was easy, largely due to the style of play, which is similar to what Glenwood plays under Smith. Having a chance to play so close to home where he can play in front of his mother Maria, and sister Sofia, was key.

“Their style of play was a big selling point,” said Mireles, who went to ID camps at CMU and had a chance to get a good feel for the Maverick program. “When I was down there the coaches told me how other programs in the RMAC (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) like to play long ball and just kick and run, whereas CMU plays wide and possess the ball a lot. That’s the style I like to play, so it made a lot of sense. Having it be close to home was very important too; I love that.”

Mireles’s role in the first year isn’t quite clear at this point, but the Glenwood senior — who aspires to study something in the medical field at CMU — has a goal of working into the first team under Padgett. Mireles joins a talented CMU program that finished 13-4-5 last season. But if the last four years of Mireles’s time with Glenwood are any indication of what he can achieve at the collegiate level, it won’t be a surprise if the skilled midfielder achieves his freshman goal quickly and has an impact on the 2019 Mavericks.

jcarney@postindependent.com

Third-quarter momentum carries Steamboat boys lacrosse past Aspen in pivotal non-conference game

Neither side with much of an advantage midway through Wednesday’s top-10 matchup, the opening minutes of the third quarter proved crucial in a key win for the Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse team against one of its main non-conference rivals.

“These guys are doing a really good job of responding in the third quarter, which is just huge for a lacrosse game to steal that momentum out of halftime,” SSHS coach Jay Lattimore said. “That was definitely the turning point in the game.”

A goal by Steamboat’s Jacob Gilbertson not even two minutes into the second half broke a tie and helped carry the Sailors to an 8-6 win over Aspen High School on the AHS turf. Ranked No. 8 in Class 4A this week and looking for an important RPI boost, the Skiers struggled to find the net after halftime against No. 7-ranked Steamboat.

Trailing 2-0 roughly midway through the first quarter, Aspen answered with back-to-back goals by Robbie Fitzgerald and Tyler Ward in less than a minute to draw even. Steamboat’s Ryan McNamara followed with a goal only 20 seconds after Ward’s equalizer to make it 3-2 SSHS after a quarter.

The defenses settled in throughout the second quarter, but Fitzgerald still managed to score twice more, his second of the quarter giving AHS a 4-3 lead with just over four minutes remaining until the break. McNamara’s second goal about 90 seconds later made it 4-4 at halftime.

“We just kind of kept our composure,” Lattimore said. “We were forcing it a lot in the beginning and kind of beating ourselves up a little bit. So we just kind of slowed it down a little bit and tried to play the lacrosse we know we can play.”

Steamboat outscored Aspen 3-0 in the third quarter to take a 7-4 lead. Aspen’s Dominic Lanese got one of them back, scoring with about eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but the offense couldn’t find a way to get any closer. Steamboat put the game away with a Jackson Lynch goal with a touch over two minutes remaining.

Ward put in one more in the closing minute for the final 8-6 margin.

“We were by far the better team. The story of us is we play great at the beginning and we tend to get a little sloppy and make some mistakes,” Aspen coach Tommy Cox said. “We are growing as a team and I think if we were to see this team again it would be a completely different score. It’s crazy how a couple of mistakes can change the tune of the game.”

Steamboat improved to 10-3 overall with the win, one that keeps the Sailors in contention for a possible top-five seed in the 4A playoffs. Steamboat plays at Eagle Valley on Thursday before closing out the season May 3 against Vail Mountain.

“It’s just huge. We want to get to 12-3 and we just made it a little easier on ourselves to get there,” Lattimore said. “We needed two non-conference wins. The three non-conference teams we lost to are top-six teams in the state, so we didn’t want to slip up here in Aspen.”

It was a missed opportunity for an Aspen team that fell to 4-4 overall and remains on the playoff bubble with only a couple of weeks to go in the regular season.

“Like I said, come out hard and we will continue on with growth every day,” Cox said. “We just got to come out and learn from today and move forward.”

Aspen next heads on the road for games at Durango and Montrose on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Preps April 16: AHS girls soccer, lacrosse roll to easy wins

Now 10 games into the season, the Aspen High School girls soccer team seems to have finally settled into its lofty preseason expectations.

“I feel like we are less nervous,” AHS senior Ellie Oates said. “Last year and the first few games I was definitely really nervous, and I’m not as nervous in these recent games and that’s definitely helped.”

Playing much like the team that made the 3A state semifinals last spring, the Skiers rolled to another win Tuesday, this a 7-0 romp over visiting Coal Ridge on the AHS turf. It was 3-0 at halftime and never all that competitive.

Sophomore Kelley Francis led the way with three goals, while Oates had two. Junior Payton Curley and senior Clara Maxwell each chipped in a goal.

Zulieka Hanson and Ella Trane split time in net to help the Skiers to their fourth shutout in five games, and third straight.

“We’ve been communicating more,” AHS senior Jasmin Hanson said of the defense. “We’ve been trying to work on who gets the ball, who has players, and then who is going to go up with the ball and pass to the midfield. So we are trying to connect with the midfield.”

With the loss, Coal Ridge fell to 4-5-1 overall and 1-2 in 3A Western Slope League play.

Ranked No. 4 in 3A this week, Aspen improved to 8-2 overall and 5-0 in WSL play. The Skiers have won six straight, all coming since spring break.

Next up will be a Saturday morning home game against Faith Christian (4-5). The last time the Eagles came to Aspen was for the first round of the state playoffs last May, Payton Curley’s overtime goal giving AHS the 1-0 win.

Faith Christian also plays Friday at Basalt.

ASPEN GIRLS LACROSSE HANDLES GRAND JUNCTION

Much like its being doing all season, the Aspen High School girls lacrosse team made easy work of its opponent on Tuesday, beating Grand Junction 19-2 on Iselin Field in Aspen. The Skiers scored 11 goals by halftime and both of the Tigers’ goals came late when the game was well out of hand.

Charlotte Howie had a team-high five goals for Aspen, while Kylie Kenny and Sabrina Turbidy each had three. Six others had at least one goal. Howie also led the team with four assists.

Grand Junction fell to 4-6 overall. Aspen, ranked No. 9 in the state this week, remains perfect at 8-0 overall. The Skiers next host a struggling Montrose team on Thursday before a big non-league home matchup with Conifer (8-2) on Saturday.

BASALT BASEBALL GETS FIRST WIN, BEATS ASPEN

The Basalt High School baseball team got its first win under coach Rob Smith on Tuesday by beating rival Aspen 8-0 on the BHS field. The Longhorns scored three runs in the first inning and five in the fourth for the shutout win.

The teams had intended to play a doubleheader and got through six innings of the second game, Basalt leading 5-0, before it was called for darkness. Smith said the team was still waiting to hear from CHSAA on whether the second game score would stand or if the game would need to be completed.

Without factoring in the second game, the win improved Basalt to 1-6 overall, while Aspen fell to 0-10.

AHS GIRLS GOLF STRONG IN RIFLE

The Aspen High School girls golf team competed Tuesday at Rifle Creek Golf Course, hosted by Rifle High School. The Skiers finished third as a team in the 10-team tournament behind winner Grand Junction and Palisade. AHS senior Zoe Guthrie shot an 18-over 90 to finish in third place. Rifle’s Masi Smith and Grand Junction’s Brittlynn O’Dell each shot 10-over 82. Aspen’s Avery Hirsch shot 99 to tie for eighth, while Julia Higdon shot 109 to tie for 22nd.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Colbert’s Prep Playbook: Taking stock of local track athletes with a month to go until the state meet

We are exactly one month away from the start of the state track and field meet — held May 16 to 18 in Lakewood — so I figure this is a good time to check in and see which of our local athletes have a chance at qualifying.

Coming off the excitement of the 2017 state meet, in which Aspen High School senior Sunday Abarca won his third straight state title in the 400-meter dash, the 2018 meet lacked any real contenders between AHS and Basalt. In fact, Aspen didn’t have anyone qualify.

But the 2019 meet is shaping up to be much better. Both teams have a few podium hopefuls with a couple having a shot at a possible top-five finish. So, with four weeks remaining until everyone convenes in Denver, let’s take stock of our area track stars.

All these numbers and rankings were taken from MaxPreps — which CHSAA uses for its own lists — and they seem to be fully updated after the weekend. Typically speaking, the top 18 in each event qualify for state.

GIRLS

First and foremost, the girls dominate this list of hopeful qualifiers, and none stand out quite like Basalt sophomore Sierra Bower (I believe I’ve brought her name up a few times in recent weeks). A quickly rising star in the world of distance running, Bower ranks fifth in Class 3A in the 3,200-meter run (11:24.59) and seventh in the 1,600-meter run (5:20.98). She is roughly 15 to 17 seconds behind first place in either event. Keep in mind she ran the 2-mile in less than 11 minutes at sea level last week when she competed in the prestigious Arcadia Invitational.

AHS junior Julisa Ruiz-Vega is worth watching. She currently is ranked eighth in the 100-meter dash (13 seconds flat), a time she hit this past weekend at the meet in Glenwood Springs. You might have seen her on the soccer field some this spring as well, as she is double dipping in both sports. AHS sophomore Zuleika Hanson, another soccer player, currently is 23rd in the 200-meter dash.

BHS senior Megan Maley (15th) and AHS sophomore Kendall Clark (18th) are both toeing the line in the 800-meter run, with Bower back in 28th. Both still have a lot of work to do in the 400 and Clark in the 1,600 to get to state.

Sticking with Aspen, the girls look pretty solid in a handful of relays. As of today, they would qualify in the 800 medley (seventh) and the 4×400 (15th). The 4×100 and 4×200 girls are right on the cusp, ranked 19th and 21st, respectively.

There seem to be two names worth mentioning here in regard to the field athletes. AHS junior Paige Quist is seventh in shot put, having hit a mark of 39 feet, 9.75 inches at the Glenwood meet. She needs to add another 5 feet to have a go at a state title. Then, Basalt junior Katie Bohannan is in the mix to qualify in both the high jump (currently 18th) and the pole vault (16th).

BOYS

This list isn’t nearly as long, with no Aspen or Basalt boys currently ranked in the top 10. Making a run at it, however, is BHS junior Ben Williams, currently 12th in the 110-meter hurdles (16.59), set over the weekend in Glenwood. He could have a chance at a podium come state. Williams also ranks 26th in the high jump.

Basalt also has a solid 4×800-meter relay team, currently ranked 13th. Other Basalt hopefuls include junior Rulbe Alvarado, who is 25th in the 200-meter dash, and senior Nathan Rivera, who is 20th in the pole vault.

Aspen’s only male hopeful seems to be senior Nicholas Galambos, who is 30th in the 800-meter run and 31st in the 3,200-meter run.

The next chance for the track athletes to improve their rankings will be Friday at the Coal Ridge Invitational.

Now, for some quick notes on the rest of the sports…

LACROSSE

First, let’s welcome the AHS boys back to the CHSAANow.com top 10. Preseason No. 5 in 4A, the Skiers dropped out for a few weeks but return at No. 8 this week. The AHS boys, 4-3 overall, host No. 7 Steamboat Springs at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The AHS girls lacrosse team dropped from No. 8 to No. 9 this week, for reasons I can’t even guess at. All they did last week was beat a very good Air Academy team on the road, 14-10, and beat Summit, 22-1 (no, I’m not missing a digit), to move to 7-0 on the season. The girls host Grand Junction at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in a league game on Iselin.

SOCCER

The Aspen girls soccer team is back where it started the season, which is ranked No. 4 in 3A. Two early-season losses at Grand Junction and Steamboat Springs are nothing but distant memories. AHS is 5-0 since spring break and outscored Basalt and Moffat by a combined 15-0 last week. They have a tough test Tuesday with a 4 p.m. home game against Coal Ridge (4-4-1) on the turf.

Basalt soccer had arguably its best result of the season Monday when it played to a 3-3 draw against visiting SkyView Academy, which is ranked No. 6 in 3A this week. I still believe the Longhorns are better than their 1-7-1 record shows, and Monday’s result proves that. BHS next hosts Faith Christian (4-4) on Friday. Faith just dropped out of the rankings this week, having been No. 10 in 3A only a few days ago.

BASEBALL

Something will have to give when Aspen and Basalt baseball face off Tuesday at 3 p.m. on the BHS field. In what could be their only meeting of the season, AHS enters 0-9 overall while Basalt is 0-6. Both reasonably young teams with new head coaches (although both of the coaches were former assistants), someone should get a much-needed confidence boost.

TENNIS

The Aspen girls tennis team won, 5-2, at Grand Junction on Monday. Shockingly, it was the first time competing outside this spring for the Skiers. The losses came at No. 1 and 2 singles. Karina Keller won at No. 3 singles, and AHS swept through doubles competition. Aspen plays Wednesday at Glenwood Springs.

The Basalt girls tennis team continues to seek growth in only its second varsity season. The Longhorns lost 6-1 at Glenwood last week and were slated to play Fruita on Monday and at Paonia on Wednesday.

GOLF

Aspen girls golf finished fourth among 3A schools and 11th overall last week in Grand Junction. They compete again Tuesday at Rifle. Avery Hirsch and Zoe Guthrie remain the hopefuls to qualify for the 3A state tournament, held May 20 and 21 at Eagle Ranch in Vail.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Preps April 13: Aspen girls soccer wins 10-0 over Moffat, BHS falls to Middle Park

Aspen soccer continues winning streak with rout of Moffat

The Aspen High School girls soccer team won its fifth straight game — all coming since spring break — with a 10-0 rout of Moffat County on Saturday in Craig. The Skiers led 9-0 at halftime and scored their 10th goal only a couple of minutes into the second half to end the game via the mercy rule. It was Aspen’s first mercy-rule win of the season.

As is the norm, sophomore Kelley Francis led the Skiers with four goals, while five others found the back of the net as well. Francis has 20 goals through nine games this season. As a freshman last spring, she set the program’s single-season scoring mark with 32 goals.

Moffat fell to 1-6 overall with the loss and 0-3 in Class 3A Western Slope League play, the lone win coming in the season opener at Rifle. Now 7-2 overall and 4-0 in WSL play, the No. 5-ranked Skiers will next host Coal Ridge (4-4-1, 1-1) on Tuesday.

Basalt girls soccer can’t find offense in loss to Middle Park

The Basalt High School girls soccer team hosted Middle Park on Saturday morning, falling 1-0 in a non-league game. The Panthers improved to 5-1 overall. They were effectively ranked No. 15 in the 3A media poll as of this week.

Basalt dropped to 1-6 overall and remained 1-3 in 3A Western Slope League play. The Longhorns are next scheduled to host SkyView Academy (4-3) in another non-league game at 3 p.m. Monday. The 3A Hawks entered the week ranked No. 9.

Aspen, Basalt baseball remain winless ahead of showdown

The Aspen High School baseball team traveled to Parachute on Saturday, losing 10-0 to Grand Valley. It was the first league game of the season for the Skiers, who fell to 0-9 overall. The Cardinals improved to 2-5 overall.

Also Saturday, the Basalt High School baseball team played at Cedaredge, losing 15-5 in its league opener. Basalt led 5-1 entering the bottom of the fourth inning, but gave up two in the fourth and 12 in the sixth to squander the opportunity. The Bruins moved to 5-10 overall, while Basalt fell to 0-6.

The losing streak will end for either Aspen or Basalt on Tuesday when the teams meet down in Basalt for a league game. The current schedule has varsity playing at 3 p.m. with junior varsity to follow. Barring any changes, this will be the only meeting of the season between Aspen and Basalt baseball.

Aspen lacrosse teams look ahead to next week after quiet weekend

Both of the Aspen High School lacrosse teams had the weekend off. The girls rolled to a 22-1 win over Summit on Friday to improve to 7-0 on the season. They are set to host Grand Junction (4-5) in a league game on Tuesday. The Tigers are 4-4 in league play, while Aspen is 3-0 and currently the only team without a league loss in the 11-team league.

The AHS boys had originally been scheduled to play at Steamboat Springs on Saturday, but that non-league game was moved to Wednesday in Aspen, with varsity tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m. on the AHS turf. AHS is 4-3 overall after a 9-6 win over Summit on Thursday.

The Roaring Fork High School girls lacrosse team did play Saturday, beating Battle Mountain, 14-13, to improve to 5-1 overall. This is the first season for the Carbondale program at the varsity level.

Glenwood Springs sweeps own track and field meet yet again

When it comes to the Demon Invitational as of late, Glenwood Springs High School coach Blake Risner can count on his athletes winning it outright.

For the second straight year at Stubler Memorial Field, the Glenwood boys and girls swept the invitational on Saturday, as the boys cruised to a win with 190 points, while the girls pulled out the win late, thanks to senior Payten Spencer’s work in the discus, giving the girls 77 points to hold off Cedaredge.

The win for the boys marks the fifth straight year that Glenwood has taken the boys title, meaning the seniors on the boys’ team didn’t taste defeat at home in all four years competing at the varsity level under Risner.

Both Aspen and Basalt track and field teams also competed Saturday in Glenwood Springs, although complete results had yet to be posted as of press time.

—Josh Carney, Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Aspen girls tennis handles Vail at Maroon Creek Club on Saturday

The Aspen High School girls tennis team hosted Vail Mountain on Saturday at Maroon Creek Club, winning 6-1.

Usual No. 1 singles player Mary Williams was out of town, allowing Macy Hopkinson to play and win at the No. 1 singles spot, while Karina Keller won at No. 2 singles.

AHS swept all four doubles matches, led by the No. 1 duo of Addy Walson and Bliss Pekkala. The only loss came at No. 3 singles.

Aspen will next compete Monday at Grand Junction and Wednesday at Glenwood. Regionals are scheduled for the first week of May in Grand Junction.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Longtime Roaring Fork basketball coach Larry Williams calls it a career

Just two years after retiring from teaching, Larry “Shorty” Williams is calling it a career as a basketball coach.

A staple on the boys’ sideline for the last 11 seasons in Carbondale, Williams epitomized everything that was Roaring Fork High School basketball.

But, due to the time commitment needed to continue to coach at a high level, Williams decided to step away from his post last week, ending a total of 27 years as a basketball coach for the boys and girls programs in Carbondale.

Williams, a Roaring Fork graduate, was on the sideline as an assistant coach for the Roaring Fork girls’ three straight state championships from 1989 to 1991, and later served as head coach for the girls team. He took over the boys’ program after former coach Roger Walters resigned, promoting Williams from the C-team to the varsity head coaching position.

After so many years of spending time each day in gymnasiums, on buses and in meetings trying to improve the Rams, Williams wants to settle down and enjoy family time.

“It just got to a point where I wasn’t enjoying going to open gyms and camps in the summer,” said Williams. “I used to love that stuff, but it’s just a major time commitment.

“I still love the kids and I love coaching, but after 27 years it just became too much.”

Aside from working roughly 30 hours a week at his part-time job, Williams said he hopes to get back into some duck and pheasant hunting. He also wants to spend more time watching his grandkids play basketball and other sports, now that he’s stepping away from the varsity program.

void to fill

“He and I had been talking about it,” said Jade Bath, Roaring Fork’s athletic director who also played for the Rams when she was in high school.

“It was kind of one of those things that I was hoping wasn’t true,” she added. “I just respect him so much and enjoy working with him. I looked up to him when I was little. It’s hard for me (to see him retire) because a part of Roaring Fork is leaving.

“It’s more than just basketball when you’re talking about Shorty. He truly bleeds blue and gold and loves everything about this school.”

In the past 11 seasons as the head coach of the Rams’ boys program, Williams won three 3A Western Slope League Coach of the Year awards.

In that same 11-season span, Williams compiled a record of 141-91 (.607 winning percentage), including a league record of 87-45 (.659 winning percentage) in 11 seasons, winning a league championship in 2012-13 when he helped lead the Rams to a 20-4 (15-1 3A WSL) record, reaching the second round of the 3A state playoffs.

Williams has always had the Rams near the top of the league standings, making for a tough out each night in a loaded conference.

league respect

“His first year as a head coach was my first year as a head coach, so we’ve always had to go against him,” said Coal Ridge High School head coach Paul Harvey. “He’s a class act, hard worker and a tremendous coach.

“It’s a huge loss for our league. His teams were always ones you wanted to play earlier in the year because they were going to improve late in the year due to coaching.”

The news of Williams retiring from coaching spread fast and seemed to take the league by surprise, which says quite a bit about the impact he’s had on the game of basketball and how revered he is within the basketball community on the Western Slope.

“I’m kind of surprised he’s retiring, honestly,” Harvey added. “I just really got the sense from him that he was going to keep going and going as the boys coach. But his influence is all over the town. He’s done a tremendous job with that program from the top down, and you can see that with the young kids they have coming. Carbondale has a rich history of basketball, and Larry’s right there in the middle of it.”

After so many seasons coaching basketball, Williams has had a chance to impact a number of lives. Now that he’s stepping away and reflecting, he hopes there’s a message that consistently got across from his coaching methods that’s stuck with players after they’ve moved on from the program.

“The message that I hope got across was things that we preach every day: work ethic, always try your best, and to be a good person and do what’s right,” Williams said. “Do something for each other. Whether it’s a job or it’s a team, you’re a part of something bigger. I just hope that the kids took it to heart and it carries over into their marriages, life as parents, or whatever comes next for them.”

finding a good fit

Although he’s officially retiring from coaching, Williams said that it will be hard to stay away from the game completely. Depending on who the new head coach is, Williams hopes he’ll get the chance to step in and help the new guy when he can, but added that there’s a fine line there where you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.

“You want it to be the new guy’s program, so it’s important to be careful there,” Williams added.

Bath said that the coaching position is posted and is open to any and all applicants, but that the program hopes to select the right person not only for the program, but for the community, as well.

“It’s hard to try and fill the shoes Shorty is leaving,” said Bath. “This program deserves a good head coach to follow him. Hopefully we can find that coach, get through the transition period, and keep up that tradition of Roaring Fork boys basketball.”

jcarney@postindependent.com

Aspen girls soccer rolls by Basalt behind four goals from Francis

The magic finally returned for the Aspen High School girls soccer team over the weekend in a dramatic come-from-behind win over Vail Mountain. It seems the Skiers were able to hold onto that feeling when it headed downvalley to face rival Basalt, a 5-0 win on Thursday afternoon.

“For this whole season we’ve been a second-half team, and I think we have stepped it up and we wanted to play our game today and I think we did,” AHS senior Clara Maxwell said. “We had a lot of expectations but now I think we are just trying to play a good game of soccer and have fun with it.”

Led by sophomore standout Kelley Francis, the short-handed Skiers kept the momentum moving forward. Francis had four of the five goals and sophomore Zulieka Hanson was stellar in net for an Aspen team that has now won four straight games, all coming since spring break.

Basalt had its chances, but the ball continued to bounce in the Skiers’ favor.

“At the end they were tired, cold, and unfortunately sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t,” Basalt coach Kate McBride said. “I was very proud of them because they stepped up and delivered what I asked of them. I asked greater communication, rotation in cover and challenge. And they delivered that.”

Despite giving up five goals, McBride said BHS goalie Natalie Simecek was the Longhorns’ player of the game. She was equally outstanding in net, but Aspen’s persistence on offense was a lot to overcome.

Both teams had their share of scoring opportunities early, but it wasn’t until a touch under 12 minutes to play in the first half that Francis found herself 1-on-1 and scored to make it 1-0. About four minutes later senior Emily Brenninger got her chance and scored to make it 2-0 at halftime.

“I was proud of them for pulling it together, channeling their injury, focusing on what was the task at hand, and to play soccer,” McBride said. “As I always say, soccer is like life and this was one of those occasions.”

Francis really controlled the second half. She scored about eight minutes in to make it 3-0, her easy goal making up for an easy tap in she missed on only a few minutes earlier. Francis then made it 4-0 with under 12 minutes to play after she bulldozed through a couple of BHS defenders and scored her fourth to make it 5-0 with about eight minutes to go.

“She is a rocket,” Maxwell said of Francis. “She is awesome. She always steps up to the plate and it’s really good.”

Basalt fell to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in league play with the loss. The Longhorns will next host Middle Park at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Aspen improved to 6-2 overall and 3-0 in league play. Ranked No. 5 in Class 3A this week by CHSAANow.com, the Skiers next travel to Moffat County on Saturday.

“We know we can get that far, it’s just a matter of stepping our foot forward,” Maxwell said of another deep playoff run. “Believing in each is really important. That was a problem in the beginning. We just had a lot of expectations, but now we are a team and we all love each other and with that momentum comes a great chemistry.”

Aspen boys lacrosse gets needed win over Summit

The Aspen High School boys lacrosse team came through with a 9-6 win over visiting Summit County Thursday on the AHS turf. The win came only two days after a 14-11 loss at Grand Junction and gave the Skiers their third win in four games. Now 4-3 overall, Aspen heads to Steamboat Springs on Saturday.

The AHS girls lacrosse team moved to 6-0 on the season after a 14-10 win at Air Academy on Wednesday. It was a rematch of a playoff game from a season ago, which Aspen also won. The AHS girls will host Summit Friday on the AHS turf.

Aspen baseball still winless after loss to Huskies on Thursday

The Aspen High School baseball team lost to Battle Mountain on Thursday, falling 13-3 at Crawford Field in El Jebel. The loss drops AHS to 0-8 on the season with a trip to Grand Valley coming up on Saturday.

Basalt baseball falls to Rifle

The Basalt High School baseball team lost a 10-0 contest at Rifle on Thursday to move to 0-5 on the season. The Longhorns were limited to only two hits. BHS will host Aspen on Tuesday in its home opener.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Preps April 9: Basalt girls soccer falls late against Vail Mountain in home opener; AHS girls tennis wins at home

Clinging to a one-goal advantage late into the second half, the game unraveled in a hurry for the Basalt High School girls soccer team Tuesday when it hosted Vail Mountain in its home opener, losing 3-2.

In what the Longhorns believed to have been a missed offsides call, VMS freshman Tegan Sharfstein was able to get one-on-one with BHS goalie Natalie Simecek and scored for the tie with about 11 minutes to play. About six minutes later, Sharfstein put in the game-winner.

“We had an unfortunate turn of events in terms of how the game was called. Obviously you can’t go off of the refs’ calls,” BHS coach Kate McBride said. “They are a much better team than they exemplified today. I don’t believe the score actually reflected the abilities of our team. I felt they got in their own way today.”

The first half was evenly played until Vail Mountain’s Gaby Gish, another freshman, scored in stoppage time to make it 1-0 VMS at the halftime break. The Longhorns came out with a lot more efficiency early in the second half, scoring twice in the first 10 minutes.

Sophomore Delaney Card got BHS on the scoreboard when her goal from about 20 yards out tied the game at a goal apiece roughly seven minutes into the half. Barely three minutes later and BHS freshman Lexi Lowe knocked in a short shot from the left side to make it 2-1 Longhorns with 30 minutes to play.

It wasn’t until Sharfstein broke away for her first goal nearly 20 minutes later that Basalt started to become a little unhinged.

“When that happened, we had a little bit of a communication breakdown and unfortunately didn’t play our way,” McBride said of Sharfstein’s first goal. “Vail did step up and we appreciated that. We appreciated the challenge. Now we’ve got our work cut out for us to bring cohesiveness back to the team.”

The win brought Vail Mountain’s record to 6-4 overall and snapped a three-game losing streak, two of those losses coming last week against Aspen. The Gore Rangers are 2-2 in 3A Western Slope League play.

Basalt fell to 1-4 overall and 1-2 in WSL play. The schedule doesn’t get any easier with No. 5 Aspen (5-2) scheduled to make a trip to Basalt for a 4 p.m. game Thursday, weather permitting. The Longhorns also host Middle Park on Saturday morning.

“I do have the utmost confidence in this team and that they can bring it back together,” McBride said. “The nice part about this team is every one of the them is committed and is everybody is very much an equal part of it.”

ROARING FORK GIRLS SOCCER BEATS COAL RIDGE IN WSL TILT

Hosting Coal Ridge on Tuesday afternoon in Carbondale for a 3A Western Slope League tilt, the Roaring Fork High School girls soccer team pulled out a 2-1 win over the Titans.

Coal Ridge jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first five minutes as senior Alyssa Wenzel capitalized on a misplay back to the Roaring Fork goalkeeper.

Just under 10 minutes later, Roaring Fork sophomore Letey Crownhart started the scoring for the Rams with an unassisted tally as the two teams went into the half tied at 1-1.

That score held up until four minutes remained in the game as Roaring Fork junior Emily Broadhurst scored the game-winner off a give-and-go with senior Lucia Penzel, giving the Rams an important win in league action.

Roaring Fork improves to 3-3 (1-1 3A WSL) on the season. Coal Ridge falls to 3-3-1 (1-1 3A WSL) on the season. The Rams host Delta on Friday afternoon, while the Titans host Palisade on Thursday.

Josh Carney, Glenwood Springs Post Independent

ASPEN BOYS LACROSSE FALLS SHORT AT GJ

The Aspen High School boys lacrosse team had its two-game win streak snapped Tuesday with a 14-11 loss at Class 5A Grand Junction. The Tigers are now 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the combined 4A/5A Mountain league. Aspen fell to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in league play. The Skiers are slated to host Summit in non-league play Thursday, weather permitting.

ASPEN GIRLS TENNIS BEATS DELTA AT HOME

The Aspen High School girls tennis team took care of business on Tuesday, beating Delta 6-1 at Maroon Creek Club. The threesome of Mary Williams (No. 1, 6-0, 6-0), Macy Hopkinson (No. 2, 6-0, 6-0) and Karina Keller (No. 3, 6-1, 6-0) swept through the singles matches.

The Skiers went 3-1 in doubles play. At No. 1, Addy Walson and Sadie Bakyo won, 6-4, 6-2. At No. 2 doubles, Olivia Burkley and Stef Wojcik won 6-0, 3-6 (10-7). At No. 4 doubles, Rose Becker and MT Reid won 6-4, 6-1. The only loss came at No. 3 doubles, with Virginia Tassi and Sophie Wilcox falling in a close affair, 4-6, 6-4 (8-10).

Aspen will next host Vail Mountain at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Maroon Creek Club.

BASALT BASEBALL CAN’T KEEP UP WITH BATTLE MOUNTAIN

The Basalt High School baseball team traveled to Edwards on Tuesday, falling twice in a doubleheader with Class 4A Battle Mountain. The Huskies won the first game 20-7, scoring 19 runs in the first two innings, including 14 in the second. The Huskies then won the second game 20-5, scoring most of their runs late this time as BHS had taken an early advantage.

Battle Mountain improved to 6-2 overall. Basalt fell to 0-4. Weather permitting, the Longhorns are scheduled to host Rifle at 3 p.m. Thursday in their home opener before traveling to Cedaredge on Saturday.

Paonia baseball tops Roaring Fork, 8-7

Hosting Paonia on Tuesday afternoon in Carbondale, the Roaring Fork High School baseball team dropped a tough 8-7 decision to the Eagles in non-league action.

Roaring Fork jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings thanks to a two-run home run by senior Dawson Kuhl, and runs by junior Eli Nickamin, senior Layne Crisp and sophomore Frankie Harrington. Paonia battled back, scoring five runs in the top of the sixth inning, and one run in the top of the seventh inning to take the lead before retiring the Rams in the bottom of the frame for the road win.

Roaring Fork threatened in the seventh as freshman Mason Smith doubled with two outs, but a groundout a batter later ended the threat.

In the loss, the Rams recorded 11 hits as Kuhl had a home run and single, sophomore Graham Pietsch doubled and Crisp singled twice.

The loss drops Roaring Fork to 1-5 on the season. The Rams host the Delta Panthers on Thursday in a 3A WSL matchup.

Josh Carney, Glenwood Springs Post Independent

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Colbert’s Prep Playbook: Basalt High girls soccer next up with home opener vs Vail Mountain

Spring sports practice got underway Feb. 25. Yes, February. Considering this, it’s amazing how we’re just now getting to the first home games of the season for a few teams this week.

Next up will be the Basalt High School girls soccer team, which is scheduled to host Vail Mountain Tuesday afternoon. I stopped by their practice last week to say hi and finally meet new coach Kate McBride, who took over for Andrew Huntsman. The Longhorns had gone 12-5 and 11-5-1 the past two seasons and returned this spring with plenty of talent.

“They have this solid foundation and I’m just building up on their legacy,” McBride said of the previous coaching staff. “The girls are already a cohesive family, so it’s pretty nice.”

McBride brings in plenty of soccer experience, having played at Princeton and then in Europe. She’s also an accomplished skier.

The Longhorns started 0-3 — including a 7-0 loss to mighty Kent Denver in which they were missing most of their starters — before a 3-0 win at Roaring Fork on Saturday. Next up is a 5-4 VMS team that saw a 3-0 lead slip away against Aspen on Saturday, the Skiers eventually winning 4-3 in overtime.

It will be a good opportunity for the Longhorns to get something going, as they will host Aspen on Thursday afternoon.

“They are courageous. I ask a lot and they are all gung-ho,” McBride said of her team. “I’d rather be the underdog, come in and sneak up by surprise. I’d like to see their jaws hit the ground.”

Aspen (5-2), back up to No. 5 in the Class 3A polls this week, is off until the Basalt game.

Now, about some other teams:

LACROSSE

Despite back-to-back wins, the Aspen boys lacrosse team still finds itself out of the rankings this week. Maybe that’s a good thing for a team just now starting to find its mojo. At 3-2 overall, the Skiers play Tuesday in Grand Junction before hosting Summit on Thursday, weather permitting.

At 5-0 and No. 8 in the state this week, the AHS girls lacrosse team might finally find some competition Wednesday in Colorado Springs when it plays at Air Academy. The Kadets (5-3) are getting a couple of votes to be ranked. AHS beat Air Academy in the first round of the state playoffs last spring, 11-10.

TENNIS

The Aspen girls tennis team is scheduled to host Delta on Tuesday. The Skiers competed over the weekend against Conifer and Steamboat Springs. The Sailors still stole the show a bit, but everything is setting up for another epic showdown at regionals early in May.

The Basalt girls tennis team got its season going with four matches last week, falling to Grand Junction, Vail Mountain, Cedaredge and Delta. BHS sophomore Mari Elliott had the best results, winning twice at No. 1 singles. This is only the second season of varsity play for the young program. BHS is at Glenwood on Wednesday. You know, weather permitting (do I have to keep saying that?).

TRACK

Let’s start off where we usually do here with Basalt’s Sierra Bower. The sophomore skipped the meet on Saturday at Eagle Valley to take part in the prestigious Arcadia Invitational near Los Angeles and she had one heck of a race. Competing in the girls 3,200-meter run on Friday, she finished ninth in 10 minutes, 54.21 seconds, only 19-some seconds behind race winner Sofia Abrego, a freshman at Granada Hills in California.

Obviously we can’t count for the altitude, but by comparison last year’s Colorado 3A state champion won the 3,200-meter in 11:19.39, a race Bower finished 11th in with a time of 12:08.85. I’m thinking she will finish a touch higher on the podium this spring.

As far as that Eagle Valley meet, notable results include Basalt’s Megan Maley taking second in the 800-meter run and Katie Bohannan third in the high jump. Rulbe Alvarado was fourth in the 200-meter dash. Aspen also competed, with Paige Quist taking second in the shot put, Kendall Clark third in the 800 and Julisa Ruiz-Vega fourth in the 100-meter dash.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Aspen, Basalt high baseball teams getting into gear with new coaches after snowy start

It wasn’t long ago that Crawford Field in El Jebel was covered in snow. This being where the Aspen High School baseball team practices and plays its home games, about the only real time spent playing outdoors early this season came in games either in Grand Junction or Denver.

“Everything that should be routine, it’s so much harder in the gym. It really does make a big difference,” AHS junior Jack Pevny said from practice last week. “This spring has been pretty bad. It was snowing a lot. I think we only got outside once or twice before we played. That was tough, but now hopefully things are clearing up and I think this is a really good team.”

Indeed the weather has made a turn toward spring this past week, causing the snow to melt and allowing the Skiers to play their first home game of the season on Monday, an 8-2 loss to Steamboat Springs. AHS led 2-1 after five innings, but squandered an all-around good pitching performance by Pevny with a lack of hitting when they needed it.

Now 0-7 overall, Aspen hopes to get some consistency going with a young team. Last spring was one of the best in AHS baseball history, with the senior-laded squad going 16-5 overall and even earning a postseason win. This spring the Skiers are starting from scratch with an inexperienced albeit talented bunch.

“The future is bright,” AHS coach Brian Bradford said. “We are going to hit some road bumps here this season, as far as learning. We just have to learn to play as a team. The weather didn’t help us this season, but I think once we get into our league, we will compete.”

While the roster saw a bit of an overhaul, the coaching staff remained intact, if not altered. Former head coach Dave Fuentes, who remains on staff as an assistant, stepped aside to allow for more time to spend watching his kids compete this spring. His son, Jamison Fuentes, was among those AHS seniors a year ago and now pitches for Adams State in Alamosa.

Bradford, who grew up in Denver and played collegiately at Northern Colorado, had been an AHS assistant these past few years under Fuentes and was excited to take over the program.

“Aspen has been great. The town of Aspen, the families, the people, they support you. It would be really nice to build a program,” Bradford said. “A lot of times we have teams come through that are good, but we want to have a program that is consistent and steady every year. The only way to do that is to put your roots in and dig in.”

The idea is to build up a strong summer program to get area baseball players on par with those on the Front Range. This year’s varsity squad has a near non-existent senior class and a lot of freshmen to work with.

They certainly hope to compete for a postseason spot this spring, but also want to maintain the foresight to build something special over the next few years.

“We literally lost all nine starters, essentially. We have similar talent out here, but they haven’t learned to play as a team yet, and that is games,” Bradford said. “I believe in the school, I believe in the kids and the program, and I think if we put in the work we will get there.”

Next up for Aspen is a home game with Battle Mountain on Thursday afternoon, weather permitting. Snow is forecast for the area later this week.

BASALT BASEBALL ALSO BUILDING WITH NEW COACH

Much like Aspen, the Basalt High School baseball team handed the reins to a former assistant this season. Robert Smith, a native of California, took over for Nate Grinzinger, who only spent one season with the Longhorns.

A longtime umpire and coach, the 33-year-old Smith has been in the Roaring Fork Valley for seven years and looks forward to building baseball’s identity in the community. He was a Longhorn assistant to Grinzinger last spring.

“Nate stepped down to be a little more family oriented, and my schedule allowed me to do it,” Smith said. “Coaching is definitely where I feel I can thrive the most. I get to be hands on with the kids, talking with them, sharing the knowledge and the things I learned throughout my baseball career. And I like to have fun doing it.”

Basalt is 0-2 this season, having lost to Hotchkiss (7-0) and Elizabeth (10-2) prior to spring break. As with the Skiers, the Longhorns spent most of their practices indoors early on this season.

Another relatively young team, BHS is scheduled to play a doubleheader at Battle Mountain on Tuesday before, weather permitting, hosting Rifle on Thursday in its home opener.

acolbert@aspentimes.com