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Preseason over, preps open this weekend

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer
skier starting quarterback Pat Faurer is manhandled by the Skier defense during scrimmage Tuesday afternoon August 26, 2003. The Skiers play thier first match of the season against *** this coming Saturday. Paul Conrad photo.
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For the reigning Class 3A state champion Aspen High School girls cross-country team, the opening meet of the 2003 campaign will look a lot like the final one.

Minus two key runners due to graduation but still anchored by the defending individual state 3A champion, sophomore Christy Severy, the Aspen girls kick start the season Thursday at the Harrison Cross Country Invitational in Colorado Springs.

It’s the same venue for the 3A state championships in mid-October, which is why most teams in the state will be there on Thursday.

“I never ever tell them to go out and win anything, but this will certainly be a good race to put in a good effort to see where they stand for the season,” said Chris Keleher, coach of Aspen’s boys and girls teams.

The AHS boys cross-country team and Basalt’s Alpine Christian Academy boys and girls teams will run at Harrison as well.

In addition to Severy, the AHS girls return seniors Dylan Braun and Erin Kiernan, runners with state championship experience.

“We lost the No. 2 and No. 3 runners coming off the state championship, and it’s almost impossible to replace those two, but Christy’s back and Dylan and Erin are back, making a solid core,” said Keleher. “So now it’s just a matter of getting the younger girls up and running, literally and figuratively.

“But at this point, I have no idea what to expect. We’re looking for that all-elusive fourth runner.”

The AHS boys cross-country team, meanwhile, is raring to go.

“A lot of the experienced kids showed up in pretty good shape and we’re just trying to get everybody else caught up,” Keleher said. “Everyone’s real excited, especially the boys.”

The AHS boys team returns several top runners from last year, including junior Simi Hamilton (the reigning high school state nordic skiing champ), seniors Scott Evans and John Hatanaka and juniors Andrew Preusch and Weston Boyles. Additionally, nordic racers Tyler Baker and Brandon Cooper are out for the team this year, and Keleher said Cooper is “going to make immediate waves.”

Boys soccer

Aspen High’s boys varsity soccer team opens its season Thursday at home with a nonleague match against Grand Junction Central at 4 p.m.

For Aspen, which plans to play a bevy of young talent this year, it promises to be a trial by fire against a larger, Class 5A school.

“No doubt it’s going to be tough, but it’s a nonleague game and we’d like to give the young guys a chance,” said Grant “Junior” Sutherland, who coaches Aspen with John Gillies and Jamie Hosack.

“The preseason’s been fantastic, but we’re young, we’ve got a lot of freshmen and we’re pretty small,” the coach continued. “But those freshmen have come through and on Thursday we’ll probably have six of ’em in the starting lineup.

“And we’ll see how everybody matches up against a 5A school.”

Seniors Scott Woolley, James Forrester, Rodrigo Charillo and junior Colter VanDomelen will bring leadership to the team, while sophomore Carlos Rojas and freshmen Nicky Anastas and Stephen Buzbee may provide an unexpected spark, Sutherland said.

“You’ll be hearing their names a lot this season,” Sutherland said of the two freshmen.

Last year, Aspen finished at 8-8 after a loss in the first round of the state tournament.

Sutherland expects Basalt – the reigning Class 3A Western Slope League champions – to be the team, once again, to beat.

Basalt clinched its latest league title en route to a 12-4-1 record last year. The Longhorns also advanced to the round of eight in the 3A state tournament.

BHS coach Erik Streff said while the team lost five starters to graduation, he’s got six seniors to fill their place.

“We’re still a very young team and we’re just hoping everyone comes out and plays together,” Streff said.

Basalt opens next Tuesday, Sept. 2, at home against Holy Family of Denver, a team that advanced to the final four of the state 3A tourney last year.

Streff expects sophomore Felipe Sanchez, a skilled and sly midfielder and forward, to cause problems for opponents again this year. Sanchez scored seven goals for Basalt last season, making him one of the team’s biggest threats as a freshman.

“He’s back and he’s raring to go. He pretty much played year-round with a couple other guys from last year’s team, and they’re all looking really sharp.”

Junior Cy Eaton also returns as a midfield starter, and sophomore Jamie Wirkler returns as Basalt’s starting goalie.

“Holy Family’s a dominant team, so we’ll need to come out strong and confident and ready to go,” Streff said of next Tuesday’s opener at 4 p.m. at BHS.


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