Local prep teams hit the mats, rink and courts tonight | SteamboatToday.com

Local prep teams hit the mats, rink and courts tonight

Steamboat Springs High School hockey player Ian Anderson handles the puck during practice Thursday at Howelsen Ice Arena. The Sailors play Rampart High School at 6:30 p.m. today at home.

— It would be hogwash to try to decide the Peak hockey conference this early in the season. But for the Steamboat Springs High School team, a win at 6:30 p.m. today against Rampart at Howelsen Ice Arena could at least reveal the foundation of the who's who in the conference.

Rampart, at 6-2, sits atop the conference. And Steamboat (4-1-2) could establish itself as one of the teams to beat as the hockey season gets into the meaty portion of the schedule.

"To beat that team that has been successful will show other teams we're here and we're competitive," Steamboat coach Jeff Ruff said. "Other teams start to look out for you and prepare for you. We want to be the team other teams have to worry about. We just want to play our game, and they have to worry about us."

In a conference that features the likes of top teams Air Academy, Cheyenne Mountain and last season's state runner-up Lewis-Palmer, Ruff said today's game is a tone-setter for the rest of the season.

Sailors girls basketball looks to carry momentum

In a wide open Western Slope girls basketball league, Steamboat coach John Ameen knows the significance each win carries. But as much as he wants wins, he wants clean and consistent play from his Sailors.

The Steamboat girls open their league schedule at 6 p.m. today at Battle Mountain. The team then hosts Eagle Valley at 4 p.m. Saturday.

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"It's important to get the first one, but it's also important to be sharp," Ameen said about entering league play. "We want to do things right in that first game. It's nice to have a win, but it's nicer to have a win when you do things right."

Judging from its 5-3 early season record, Steamboat has things going in the right direction. Add in the additional practices during the break and Ameen said he expects Steamboat to come out strong and push for a top spot in the league.

"That's the step forward we need to make of constantly improving," he said. "We need to show it on the floor by the way we play."

Sailors boys basketball team trying to rebound

As strange a preseason as it was for the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team, now comes the time when the program typically shines.

Steamboat opens Western Slope League play at 7:30 p.m. today at Battle Mountain. The team then plays Eagle Valley at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in Kelly Meek Gymnasium. The Sailors have dominated the league the past four seasons.

And although their 3-5 record before the holiday break might be a bit worrisome, Steamboat is expected to get back a key cog today.

Jack Spady has missed every game thus far as he recovered from a shoulder injury suffered during football season. Spady is expected to start today against a resurgent and high-tempo Battle Mountain team.

"It is definitely a process," Steamboat coach Luke DeWolfe said. "Jack makes us better. It will take a little bit, but I think we've already gotten better. Anytime Jack steps on the floor we're a better team."

Area wrestling teams prep for tough weekend

There will be no gently easing back into competition for several local high school wrestling teams. The Hayden and Steamboat Springs squads head today to Vernal, Utah, for a massive tournament that should be at least as competitive as the state meet in February.

The Uintah High School Tournament of Champions will draw nearly 30 teams from both sides of the state line.

"It's a really good tournament with a lot of big, good, quality kids," Hayden coach Ty Camilletti said.

He said the challenges could be made even more difficult by any rust accumulated during the recent break from school.

"There are two ways to look at it," Camilletti said. "If we went to a lesser tournament, the kids might not get up for it as much. They are very psyched up for this, and we've had a really good week of practice. Our kids seem ready."

The Soroco wrestling team, meanwhile, will head to a tournament in Eagle Valley.

"It's a tough tournament. We'll be the smallest school there," Rams coach Jay Whaley said. "We did OK last year, held our own, and I expect them to wrestle tough again. We hope to pick back up where we left off before the two-week break."

Skiers and Soroco, Hayden basketball teams suit up

The Hayden boys and girls basketball teams kick off a doubleheader weekend tonight at West Grand. The girls start at 4:30 p.m. and the boys follow at 6:30. Both teams then return home to play starting at 4 p.m. Saturday against Plateau Valley. The girls play at 4 p.m. and the boys at 5:30 p.m.

Soroco, meanwhile, gets started at 2:30 p.m. this afternoon with a girls game at Rangely. The boys then play at 4 p.m. Saturday, also against Rangely.

Elsewhere, the Steamboat Springs High School Alpine ski team travels today to a giant slalom event in Aspen. The high school Nordic team will compete Saturday in Carbondale.