Like Mike: Steamboat's Mac Riniker named 2019 Western Slope Player of the Year |

Like Mike: Steamboat’s Mac Riniker named 2019 Western Slope Player of the Year; All-Conference lists named

Steamboat Springs High School senior Mac Riniker drives to the basket against Frederick in the first game of the Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out on Dec. 6 at Steamboat Springs High School. Riniker has been named the 2019 Western Slope League Player of the Year. (Photo by: Leah Vann)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In a lot of ways, the culmination of Steamboat Springs High School senior Mac Riniker’s high school career mirrors that of his coach.

Like head coach Michael Vandahl, Riniker reached a career total of 1,000 points scored this year in the Feb. 2 game against Palisade. He concluded his career as a Sailor with 1,129 points.

Basketball All-Conference Lists

First Team All-Conference
Tyler Doyne, senior
Aden Knaus, senior
All-Conference Honorable Mention
Dawson Lindquist, junior
Trace Walker, senior

First Team All-Conference
Katie Lake, junior
All-Conference Honorable Mention
Lucy Shimek, senior

Riniker averaged 18.1 points per game, shooting 73 percent from the field and 80 percent from the line, adding a team-high of 228 rebounds, 96 assists and 82 steals.

In his senior season, Riniker led his team to its first Sweet 16 berth since 2008, Vandahl’s senior year. In addition, Riniker receives the 2019 Western Slope League Player of the Year Award honor in the same year that Vandahl receives coach of the year.

“I think it’s super great playing for Mike,” Riniker said. “He’s always pushing us further and further, and he’ll make time to get a workout in with you. He’s an awesome coach.”

Riniker joins his brother, Ethan Riniker, as the second player to receive the honor under Vandahl’s tenure. Ethan was named player of the year in 2017.

“After my brother won, I knew that I wanted to win it,” Riniker said. “So, ever since my sophomore year. But, this was the first year I thought it was reachable. It’s pretty exciting. It was my goal kind of all year. Happy that I got it.”

Ethan, who now plays at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin, wasn’t able to see Mac play this season, but he streamed games online to keep up.

“I think he has more instincts and much more athletic. I’m more finesse and better shooter,” Ethan said. “But overall, he’s a better player than me. He just gets the game. It comes natural to him. He’s a very natural basketball player. Good feel out on the court.”

Both of the Rinikers have the competitive nature that drives their work ethic.

The player of the year award is voted on by coaches in the Western Slope League, and none were able to vote for their own, including Vandahl. But, the decision was unanimous among other coaches.

“It really just goes to show how hard Mac is working,” Vandahl said. “He wasn’t the only one that worked hard. Winning those awards, people see the award, and they don’t see all the hard work that goes into every offseason. Getting into the gym early in the morning, trying to get better when nobody’s watching. To me, that’s what it represents. Hard work and dedication than anything else.”

Mac believes the team came together this year more than it had in past years. He felt that his improved offensive game is what elevated him to success.

Taking home this honor means he follows in the footsteps of his brother, Ethan, and his coach, Vandahl, who was named player of the year in 2008.

Mac will play basketball at Colorado Mesa University next year.

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.

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