Colbert’s Prep Playbook: The winter grind continues as teams return from break
We are less than two months from the official start of spring sports practices for the high schools. Yes, like, in eight weeks we’ll be practicing sports such as lacrosse, girls soccer and baseball.
Why do I bring this up? Just as a reference point for how fast the rest of the winter sports season is likely to fly by. With the holidays behind us, most teams return to the grinder this week with the winter championship season right around the corner.
In the first Prep Playbook of 2020, let’s look back at the start of the season for our teams. With the chaos of the New Year, even mid-December seems like a lifetime ago.
The Aspen High hockey team didn’t want to wait around like everyone else and jumped back on the ice this past weekend with two games. AHS played Friday night at No. 4 Fort Collins, losing 4-0, before playing to a 3-3 tie with Resurrection Christian a night later. Fort Collins, by the way, moved up to No. 1 in the state as of Monday’s updated CHSAANow.com rankings. At 2-3-1 overall, the Skiers certainly have work to do. They jump back into league play Friday night when they host Glenwood Springs.
A fourth of the way through the schedule and the Aspen boys basketball team is 2-3 overall with wins over Soroco and Lotus. Their final game before the holiday break — a 63-60 overtime loss to Vail Christian at home — probably stings a bit still. The Skiers’ first game of 2020 will be Friday at Ouray. They play Saturday at Telluride.
The Basalt boys are 1-6 so far this season under first-year coach Clint Hunter. That lone win came against Vail Mountain, splitting up a pair of three-game losing streaks. The Longhorns’ last game was a 41-29 loss to Rifle right before the break. The BHS boys aren’t scheduled to get 2020 underway until hosting Coal Ridge a week from now.
The Aspen girls are 1-3 with a win over Dolores. The losses have all been by double digits, but there’s always been a good bit of fight in them. Getting to four or five wins would be a big step for this program. The AHS girls play Saturday at Ouray in their first game back from break.
The Basalt girls are 2-2 despite an 0-2 start. The Longhorns finished 2019 with back-to-back wins over Valley (58-51) and Rifle (41-38). Both of those games went to overtime, showing the team knows how to fight late. BHS will host Battle Mountain on Wednesday in a girls-only night before joining the boys against Coal Ridge next week.
The Basalt wrestling team gets back on the mat Saturday at a tournament hosted by Eagle Valley. Not exactly a deep team, the Longhorns typically struggle in team duals. But, the team does have some individual talent to keep an eye on as regionals approach. Both heavyweight Ernesto Lopez and 170-pounder Ruben Samuelson look rock solid, highlighted by wins at West Grand right before the break. Based off early season results, both of those guys could make a run at the podium come state.
The small but mighty Aspen girls swim team, led by first-year coach Katherine Keel, opens 2020 with a trip to the Summit Invitational on Friday. The Skiers then host their lone home meet of the season Saturday at the Aspen Recreation Center pool. With an incredibly small roster, winning meets might be out of the question this season. However, their talent-to-depth ratio might be among the best in the state, as the swimmers they do have can certainly make noise come state next month.
The high school ski season is finally here. The AHS Alpine team gets things going Friday with a giant slalom at Beaver Creek, which also will host the Feb. 27 and 28 state championships. The AHS Nordic team first competes Saturday at nearby Spring Gulch in a meet hosted by Colorado Rocky Mountain School. Both teams will host a home meet the first week of February: Alpine on Feb. 6 and Nordic on Feb. 8. Keep in mind the AHS boys are the two-time reigning state champs in the combined Alpine-Nordic finale. The girls won it all two years ago before finishing as runner-up last winter.
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Once the Aspen High School defense woke up — random 4 p.m. kickoffs need some getting used to — the Skiers were able to dictate Saturday’s football game en route to a 22-7 victory over visiting Steamboat Springs on the AHS turf.