Preps: Aspen High School girls finish second at state skiing championships
The Aspen High School ski team nearly drove straight home Friday, contemplating skipping the awards ceremony as they had little chance at team hardware anyway.
But, with a few skiers who had top-five finishes, they stuck around for the presentation at Middle Park High School in Granby, and that saved someone a good chunk of change in shipping.
Even the state runner-up trophy is a hefty piece of luggage.
“It was a shock. It wasn’t even on my radar,” AHS Nordic coach Travis Moore said Saturday. “When they called second, I couldn’t believe it. Looking back on it now, (Alpine coach Jared Thompson) and I hadn’t really talked a lot because we weren’t anticipating that outcome. I didn’t know how the Alpine girls were doing, and he didn’t know how the Nordic girls were doing. We never really sat down and crunched the numbers. But Alpine definitely skied well. It was impressive.”
Despite having only three female cross-country skiers competing at state this year, the AHS girls still managed to finish second overall in the combined Alpine-Nordic competition. The Skiers’ 575 points were only two points shy of the 577 posted by state champion Battle Mountain, a surprising result for a team that didn’t think it had any chance coming into the week.
“We didn’t. Our Nordic girls just did fantastic, combined with the Alpine girls,” Thompson said. “That combo of Nordic and Alpine, you never really know what’s going to happen.”
On the girls’ Nordic side, junior Michaela Kenny led Aspen by finishing third in the 5-kilometer classic and seventh in the 5K skate. Freshman Julia Diaz also showed well, finishing 10th in skate and 12th in classic.
It wasn’t much, but the points were enough to get the AHS girls into that second-place spot, paired with their Alpine results.
“We had no idea we were going to bring home a trophy,” Moore said. “We were just really happy with how they skied.”
Aspen’s Cate Simpson, who is a junior at Glenwood Springs High School, had the best finish for the Alpine side when she took second in slalom to Summit’s Paige Petersen. Aspen senior Kailey Murphy — another GSHS student — was eighth, and AHS freshman Darienne Kenny was 10th.
Simpson also had the first-run lead in giant slalom before crashing out on her second run. Aspen’s top finisher ended up being sophomore Alika Bassi in 12th, while sophomore Zala Smalls was 20th.
The Aspen girls finished the season ranked second overall in GS and third in slalom.
“It was no let down, at all,” Thompson said. “We were all super excited to bring home that runner-up trophy. The girls were really excited. It was fun. It wasn’t expected.”
Without any Nordic athletes on the boys’ side, Aspen finished 12th as a team, ending its four-year run as state champion. Summit won the boys’ title with 630.5 points, followed in second by Battle Mountain with 603.
Still, the AHS boys had some solid results in Alpine, including a second-place finish in GS from sophomore David Conners. Junior Turner Estock was sixth. In slalom, AHS junior Connor Stephen was fourth and sophomore Sasha Forman was seventh, with Conners in 10th.
The Aspen boys were the second-highest scoring team in slalom at state, only two points behind Summit.
The AHS boys did finish first in the season-long giant slalom standings, accumulated over the course of the winter. They were second in slalom.
“It’s great to bring home all the stuff that wraps up the whole season and not just the state championship,” Thompson said. “We always focus on the state championships and think of the races as getting us there, but it’s nice that they honor the kids for all the work they do throughout the whole season.”
The Alpine events at state were held at Winter Park, while the Nordic events were held at nearby Snow Mountain Ranch.
Basalt wrestling competes at state
The Basalt High School wrestling team had two athletes compete over the weekend at the Class 3A state championships in Denver.
At 182 pounds, junior Brady Samuelson (26-8) lost in the first round to Eaton’s Cai Sidwell (fall, 4:42) before a win on the backside of the bracket over Jefferson’s Valentino Duran (fall, 4:15). Samuelson then lost to Middle Park’s Eli Broady (11-4 dec.).
At heavyweight, BHS junior Jose Munoz (19-10) lost in the first round to Eaton’s Lucas Cass (fall, 1:45), but did beat Abraham Lincoln’s Alex Bilbrey on the backside (fall, 2:43). Munoz’s tournament ended a match later to Platte Valley’s Lane Weimer (fall, 0:45).
AHS hockey splits over weekend, eyes playoffs
The Aspen High School hockey team closed out its regular season over the weekend with a split. The Skiers took down Crested Butte on Friday night in Gunnison, winning 3-2, before falling 7-5 to Centaurus on Saturday at Lewis Ice Arena.
The Skiers officially finish the season 7-10-1 overall. Now they’ll await their postseason fate, with 10 teams advancing into the Class 4A state tournament that begins as soon as Thursday. AHS was holding down a top-10 spot in RPI as of Saturday afternoon, so it looked likely it would make the state bracket. There are only 16 teams in the 4A classification.
AHS boys basketball to host Tuesday playoff game
The Aspen High School boys basketball team finished the regular season 19-0 after a win at Coal Ridge on Thursday and is ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, as of the Feb. 14 CHSAANow.com poll, with the postseason now ready to check in.
The Skiers will open district play — effectively the league tournament — with a home game at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Aspen’s opponent won’t be known until Monday evening.
The Basalt High School basketball teams will also soon open district play, likely on Tuesday, although those matchups were still being finalized as of Saturday.
The dance team traveled this past weekend to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, for the high school national championships, winning the intermediate varsity pom division on Sunday.