Sailors ski their way to 2nd place

9 athletes qualify for state after 1st meet

Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Springs High School Nordic skiing coach Chrissy Lynch said she knew she had some strong athletes in the freshman class.

That doesn’t mean she was ready for what those new Sailors did in their first high school meet.

Entering with several years of experience of competing on the Nordic combined team for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, Steamboat’s leader didn’t bat an eye at the high school competition and helped the Sailors to a huge opening weekend.

The team’s first meet Saturday at Vail was highlighted by nine racers who qualified for state. Freshman Erik Lynch and sophomore Michael Ward finished second and third in the boys race, respectively.

“It was amazing,” Chrissy Lynch said. “We have such a young boys team, but they were right out there competing with seniors in high school. Everyone was surprised to see freshmen from our team do so well.”

Erik Lynch skidded across the finish line of the 5-kilometer race just 1.6 seconds behind Tony Ryerson, a senior from Vail Mountain. Lynch finished the course in 19 minutes, 3.5 seconds.

Ward came in 19 seconds behind him.

“They skied an incredibly smart race,” Chrissy Lynch said about her top two. “They were seventh and eighth but worked their way up to the lead group then they all skied together, switching leaders until the last half kilometer.”

Steamboat’s big day didn’t end there. Freshman Aleck Gantick finished 18th in the race, his classmate Zeb Tipton was 27th and sophomore Jack Burger was 31st.

It all added up to a second-place finish for the boys team.

“They’re all good athletes, but you never know how it’s going to add up,” Lynch said. “They have been training a long time but have never been specialized cross-country skiers. I think they were all surprised as well.”

The girls team qualified four racers for state.

Katherine Lynch led the way in 16th place, finishing in 26:06.4, while Liza Stout, Sarah Dixson and Eva Lambek all were right on her heels, finishing in 18th, 19th and 20th respectively.

“Our girls team was really impressive,” Chrissy Lynch said. “It really made my day to see all the improvement the girls had. They’ve been working hard, and they came in very strong.”

Tigers’ Coy Letlow wins at Delta wrestling tourney

Traveling was tough for the Hayden wrestling team during the weekend. On its way back from a Saturday tournament in Delta, it was stranded in Rifle by closed roads and a fierce snowstorm. Hotels in the town were quickly filled by high school sports teams from all across the state looking to take shelter.

Luckily for the Tigers, things had gone so well earlier in the day that the evening frustrations were easy to deal with.

Senior Coy Letlow won the 189-pound division of the 13-team tournament as the Tigers, shorthanded because of illness and injuries, finished seventh overall.

“It was a really good day for the team,” coach Ty Zabel said. “Coy, this being his senior year, he seems a lot more relaxed. He’s focused, and he doesn’t push the issue. He seizes opportunities when they arise, and he makes the right move on his opponent.

“He’s been a lot of fun to watch.”

Zabel heaped similar praise on senior Mitch Doolin, though Doolin fell short in his bid to match Letlow’s championship.

“He got caught in a move and was pinned in his second-round match,” Zabel said.

That didn’t end his day. Instead, Doolin wrestled all the way through the consolation bracket, winning three matches to earn a chance to wrestle for third place. A rule dictating that athletes can only wrestle five times in one day forced him to forfeit that opportunity, however. The Tigers also got strong performances from some of their younger wrestlers.

Sophomore Treyben Letlow finished second at 215 pounds. Freshman Chad Terry was third at 112, and his classmate Nick Williams was fourth at 125.

Freshman Gabe Webb also wrestled well and picked up his first varsity win, Zabel said.

“I was really happy. For a lot of those kids, that’s their first high school medal,” Zabel said. “It was really fun. They stepped up, and a lot of hard work paid off.”

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