Column: Aspen’s sports highlights of 2015

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Aspen Times Sports Editor Dale Strode
Nick Massaro Jr. / Special to The Aspen Times |

In the year 2015, Aspen tasted the sweet nectar of sporting success.

Multiple times.

With multiple contributions from multiple people.

But one particular season, one particular team, one particular coach and one special state championship stand above all the rest.

With that in mind, the officially unofficial “Sports … More or Less” Aspen sports highlight-of-the-year award goes to the Aspen High School boys lacrosse team.


On an almost surreal May day on the Broncos’ sacred turf at Mile High, with the Denver skyline to the east and the mountains to the west, the Aspen lacrosse boys became the first lacrosse boys ever to take a state lacrosse title back into those mountains.

Previously a constant of Front Range lacrosse, the 4A state championship in 2015 instead went to a non-Denver area school for the first time.


Coach Mike Goerne carefully wove the fabric of the 2015 state championship team and that historic 17-12 win over vaunted Valor Christian at cavernous Sports Authority Field.

Years of his labor of love leading Aspen lax yielded playoff dividends in 2013 and again in 2014, when Goerne and the Skiers lost in the state semifinals.

One year later, with contributions from up and down the roster, Aspen boys lax won in the semifinals and in the finals, giving the Skiers their first state lacrosse title.

All-American Tyler Tick and all-staters John Heaphey, Arthur Kelso, Harry Ferguson and Ryan Fitzgerald completed a journey they had started as lacrosse-playing youngsters.

“I cannot tell you how good this feels,” Aspen senior Ferguson told me right after the game, standing at midfield. “This was 10 years in the making.”

Senior Trey Robinson scored two goals in the state final.

Senior Matt Gregory scored two goals in the state final.

Jonathan Wells found the net against Valor.

Henry Godfrey scored Aspen’s final goal.

Goalie Kelso and the Aspen defense, meanwhile, limited Valor Christian to only two goals in the first half.

The Skiers finished 2015 with a record of 17-2, the best in program history.

“They did it for each other,” Goerne said.

No doubt.

The rest of the podium in the Aspen sports highlights of the year:

Abby Mickey, Aspen native ski racer turned professional cyclist, finishing sixth overall in the women’s USA Pro Challenge Colorado stage race in August. She finished third in one stage of the inaugural event.

Chris Peshek, interim head coach of the Aspen High School football team, who stepped in during the midseason coaching crisis. With his steady leadership, the Skiers closed the season with spirited play and smiles behind their facemasks. Peshek, for his role, was awarded the Colorado High School Activities Association Hero Award.

Sunday Abarca, then-Aspen High School sophomore, introducing himself to the Colorado track community by winning the Class 3A 400-meter state title in school-record time of 49.14 seconds last spring in front of a standing-room-only crowd at historic Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood. He also finished second in the 200-meter state finals.

Carl Frerichs and the Basalt High School football team, charging to the verge of the state playoffs. Frerichs was recognized by his fellow coaches in the Western Slope League when he was voted 2015 coach of the year.