Aspen boys lax opens with new standard |

Aspen boys lax opens with new standard

RJ Peshek returns for the Aspen High School boys lacrosse team. He played on the 2015 Aspen team that won the state championship.
Jeremy Wallace / The Aspen Times |

The boys lacrosse team at Aspen High School launches into the new season with a new standard and a new identity.

First, the Aspen boys are the reigning state lacrosse champions.

They set the new AHS standard and became the first mountain school to win a state lacrosse title in Colorado when the Skiers beat Valor Christian last spring in the final at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

No. 2, the Skiers’ new 2016 identity features a new class of seniors, a new supporting class of players and a new coaching staff.

Tim Spaulding has been named interim boys lacrosse coach at Aspen High School. He’s taken over for Mike Goerne, the Colorado coach of the year last season and architect of Aspen’s state championship program.

Goerne’s full-time job in Glenwood Springs prevented him from coaching the Skiers this year with a plan that he’ll return to the Aspen High School program next year. Goerne is coaching in the Aspen junior lacrosse program while Spaulding leads the high school team.

“The kids have been really great with the transition,” Spaulding said. “Mike was here the first week to show me their systems, their offense.”

From there, he said, the Aspen seniors stepped up to lead the underclassmen into the new season.

“Mike Goerne has done a great job. It’s a pleasure for me to step in,” Spaulding said, adding that the Skiers started practice with a focused intensity built out of last year’s state championship.

“The players realize this is a very, very successful program,” Spaulding said. “They realize the responsibility.”

He said the Skiers embrace what was done last year.

“Winning a state championship, that’s a big deal,” he said. “It’s on our minds all the time. We talk about it all the time. That’s our main goal, to get back to (Sports Authority Field at Mile High).”

He said the Skiers will be a target on everyone’s schedule this year.

“Everyone is coming to get us. We know that,” said Spaulding, who knows a thing or two about high school state championships.

Spaulding won four high school state championships at Corning East in New York before playing four years at Canisius College in Buffalo.

His high school coach, who’s headed to the Lacrosse Hall of Fame this year, prepared his teams the same way, embracing the success, high standards and expectations of the program.

He said the experience of the returning Skiers has been a key to their early preparation and a commanding 16-1 victory at Telluride to kick off the season.

The Aspen boys will play Battle Mountain at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Edwards. They’ll hit the road for a Saturday game at Durango.

He credited the senior leadership of the likes of Burke Daily and Jonathan Wells, among others, to integrate the younger players into the Skiers’ systems.

Offensively, the Skiers pressured Telluride with 16 goals.

“Our defense was solid. We have a solid core back there,” Spaulding said. “They were vacuum cleaners on the ground balls.”

James Kistner played in goal for the win.

“He’s a brick wall back there. He’s playing out of his mind, even at practice, “ Spaulding said.

After starting the season on the road, Aspen’s first home game of the year is set for March 23 against Summit High School.

The heart of the spring schedule begins April 6 when the Skiers host Glenwood Springs.

Because of spring break scheduling, the Aspen boys will play four games in six days from April 6-11. Included are two long trips — one to Montrose and one to the Denver suburb of Parker to play Ponderosa.

The Skiers will close the season with games near Boulder — at Dawson School on April 29 and at Windsor on April 30.

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