Colbert: Who is ready for fall sports?
I hate to be the one to deliver bad news, but summer is over. At least, it will be for me when the local high schools officially start fall practice on Monday.
No, that’s not a joke. Monday is the start of fall practice for Aspen and Basalt high schools. While it comes a full two weeks before the first day of classes, it does signal the start of what should be an exciting fall for prep sports.
Each team will get a more honed in season preview in the coming weeks, but until then I wanted to jot down a few notes about the upcoming season. There are plenty of storylines to be had and I’ll do my best to get to them all over the next few months.
Until then, here are a couple of things to think about as fall practices get underway next week.
WSL football is loaded
Can Basalt win its third straight title in the Class 2A Western Slope League? Maybe, but it’ll be much tougher this year. Gone are Steamboat Springs and Roaring Fork, neither of which will field a varsity team this fall, and in are powerhouses Delta and Rifle. All things fair, Rifle should probably be the preseason favorite, but Basalt and Delta will likely have a few things to say about that. Then there is Aspen, fresh off its thrilling 8-2 season. How will the Skiers fare with a new head coach (Travis Benson) and new quarterback (TBD)? We’ll find out soon enough. AHS plays at Meeker on Aug. 24 in Zero Week to open the fall season.
Consistency among coaches
Looking at Aspen’s coaches this fall, there isn’t much turnover, which is usually a good thing. Sure, Benson is new in football and Steve Sand new in boys tennis, but both were former assistants that have been around for a long time. I’d hardly call them “new.” Returning are Chris Keleher (cross country), Dave Francis (boys soccer), Dave Fuentes (softball), Mary Woulfe (boys golf) and Bailey Holmes (volleyball). Basalt will have a couple new faces this fall, namely softball and boys golf, but other familiar names return, such as longtime football coach Carl Frerichs.
Aspen boys golf
The AHS boys golf team should know its four-man varsity team by Tuesday evening. I’ll save most of the finer details for next week’s story. Until then, I want to go on record and say that if Aspen were to ever win a state championship as a team (they have one individual winner in its history), this is the season. The Skiers are simply loaded this fall. No pressure, boys.
Based off last season’s success, I have high expectations for both AHS and Basalt cross country teams. Both had plenty of young talent a year ago, especially on the girls’ side, and could be entering a strong — and fun — few years for the programs.
Bailey Holmes did a nice job in her first season coaching the AHS volleyball team, winning 13 games and making the postseason. Considering they should have a lot of that roster back, outside of a few names, the Skiers could be set up for one of their best seasons in quite a while. No pressure, girls.
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There might be part of Hailey Swirbul that is finally beginning to believe she belongs. The 22-year-old cross-country skier is coming off quite a stretch with the U.S. ski team, one that includes her first career World Cup podium and a successful go in the notorious Tour de Ski stage race.