Colbert’s Prep Playbook: Sizing up AHS girls swimming before state
The championship stretch begins. Believe it or not, we are down to the final few weeks of the high school winter sports season, with the Aspen High School girls swim team first up to bat. I’ll set that up along with the rest of the upcoming prep action in this week’s Prep Playbook.
ASPEN SWIMMING GOES TO STATE
This is the third year there has been a Class 3A for girls swimming in the state of Colorado. Two years ago, the first time 3A was added, Aspen won the state championship, the first for girls swimming in school history. Last winter, the Skiers finished eighth as a team.
There is a strong belief among local athletes and coaches that AHS will add to its championship banners in swimming over the next couple of years. The strength of the team right now is in its underclassmen, and the group getting ready to come up from the middle school ranks is expected to jump right in next season.
That being said, just about anything could happen Friday and Saturday, when the Skiers compete in the 3A state championship at the Edora Pool Ice Center (EPIC) in Fort Collins. Ranked No. 4 in 3A as of the Feb. 3 CHSAANow.com poll, a top-five finish in the state is well within reach. Another state championship will be more likely over the next couple of years, but you never know.
In terms of possible individual state titles, Aspen enters Friday’s qualifiers seeded first in the 200-yard medley relay and the 200-yard freestyle relay, making them the pre-meet favorites in both. The relays are expected to be the team’s strength over the next few years, as well.
The 100-yard backstroke should be a fun race to watch, with AHS senior Davy Brown — a Colorado Mesa University commit — seeded fourth (1:00.21) and AHS freshman Laila Khan-Farooqi (1:00.86) seeded sixth. Both girls are within striking distance of Evergreen’s Maggie McDonald, who has the best seed time of 59.64 seconds.
Khan-Farooqi and fellow freshman Kayla Tehrani are seeded fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 100-yard butterfly, a couple of seconds back of first. Sophomore Emily Kinney and Tehrani are seeded fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 100-yard backstroke, but will likely need to drop 4-5 seconds to have a shot at No. 1. Kinney also leads a group of four Skiers qualified in the 200-yard IM, where she is seeded sixth.
If the Aspen boys basketball team wanted to snap its five-game losing streak, Tuesday night’s home game against Cedaredge is that chance. AHS (4-11) last won Jan. 15 at Vail Mountain. The game prior, on Jan. 11, AHS rolled to a 57-40 win over Cedaredge in a non-league contest.
The Skiers certainly hope to repeat the success of that night and earn their first Western Slope League win of the season. After Tuesday, they only have three games remaining. They host Coal Ridge and standout Kevin DiMarco (15.7 points per game) on Friday in what is being called senior night. On Saturday, AHS will host league frontrunner Delta. The regular-season finale is Feb. 14 at Basalt.
The AHS girls (4-10) have this same finish. As with the boys, the Delta girls are undefeated and sitting atop the WSL standings. Cedaredge is in the middle of the pack, but is 11-4 overall. The Bruins beat Aspen last month, 64-12. The Coal Ridge girls aren’t nearly as intimidating as the Titan boys.
I have to give some kudos to first-year coach Amy Contini and the Basalt girls basketball team. The Longhorns were sitting at 1-13 overall before back-to-back wins at Rifle and Roaring Fork, the latter of which was certainly a shocker (the Rams are currently 10-5 overall and tied for fourth in the WSL).
Now 3-14 overall, BHS plays at Olathe on Friday before closing out the regular season against Aspen on Valentine’s Day. The BHS boys, also 3-14 overall, have the same two teams to finish. The Olathe boys and girls are both fighting for seeding in the bottom half of the WSL.
The teams that finish in the bottom four of the 10-team league typically compete in the district play-in games, with the winners advancing to the eight-team district bracket. The two higher seeds in those play-in games (No. 7 and 8) usually host.
The Basalt wrestling team has its final home dual Thursday night (scheduled 6 p.m. start) when it hosts Rifle. Two days later, the Longhorns close out the regular season with a dual tournament at Meeker.
Looking at the stats on http://www.trackwrestling.com, the Longhorns have a few wrestlers to watch out for when they head to Alamosa next week for regionals. Junior Ernesto Lopez boasts a 15-1 record at heavyweight, which isn’t surprising considering his dominance from the football season. Sophomore Jose Castorena is a solid 12-4 at 182 pounds, while sophomore Ruben Samuelson has amassed 18 wins (with 10 losses) at 152 pounds.
The Longhorns sent three to the state tournament last year, but all of them — William Rivera, Oswaldo Morales, Thomas Wirth — were seniors.
It’s been a rather rough stretch for Aspen hockey, having gone 0-3-2 over its past five games. The offense has been there, scoring 11 goals, but allowing 15 doesn’t quite get it done.
Still, the Skiers remain in position to possibly win the Peak Conference with back-to-back games at Crested Butte coming Friday and Saturday. The Titans lead the league with 12 points, followed by Aspen’s 11 and Battle Mountain’s 10.
Aspen’s regular-season finale is Feb. 16, a non-league game at Resurrection Christian.
The Aspen High School cross-country ski team will wrap up its regular season Saturday with an individual start skate race at Steamboat Springs. The AHS alpine team competes Thursday at Cooper and then concludes its regular season Feb. 15 at Beaver Creek.
The state championships are Feb. 21 and 22 at Purgatory Resort in Durango. AHS is the defending state champion for both boys and girls in the combined Nordic/alpine event.
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Aspen again is led by senior Christian Kelly at No. 1 singles and Alex Mosher at No. 2 singles. The pair held down those same spots last season, when the Skiers finished sixth overall.