Routt County high school 2014 fall season sports superlatives
Steamboat Springs — When the Steamboat Springs High School volleyball team was ousted in the regional playoffs Nov. 1, the fall high school sports season in Routt County officially ended.
There were improbable wins and heartbreaking losses, state championship-stage performances and league titles dashed. But it was an exciting season, and one worth reviewing.
After each preps sports season, we will review some of those memorable team and individual performances, and tip our caps to some of the best moments on the field, course and court.
Best team: Steamboat Springs volleyball
With an unproven roster chock-full of juniors, the Sailors didn’t exactly have the championship pedigree, but that quickly changed a dozen games into the 2014 season.
Steamboat ripped through its early season schedule, starting 12-0, leading the 4A Western Slope Conference and garnering statewide recognition with the Sailors’ No. 10 ranking.
Steamboat enjoyed some of the highest highs, like a few five- and four-set thrilling wins against league powers, and some low lows, like the Oct. 24 loss at lowly Palisade.
The Sailors were edged for the conference title and were forced to travel in the regional playoffs, where they were eliminated by Longmont and Pueblo West, but Steamboat still finished with an 18-6 record, one of the best seasons the program has enjoyed in more than a decade.
Runners-up: Steamboat Springs golf, Steamboat Springs girls cross country
Best game: Steamboat Springs volleyball vs. Battle Mountain on Oct. 16
The odds were stacked against the Sailors in this one. Battle Mountain, which had dismantled Steamboat, 3-1, just a few weeks prior, came in as the favorite and winners of 22 straight 4A Western Slope League games. The Sailors, meanwhile, needed the win not only for the revenge factor, but simply to keep up in a tight league race with the Huskies and Eagle Valley.
In front of a packed and raucous Kelly Meek Gymnasium, Steamboat methodically dismantled Battle Mountain, winning the first two sets and finally slamming the door on the Huskies in the fourth with a 25-20 clinching win.
While Steamboat was eliminated in the regional playoffs, Battle Mountain went on to compete in the state tournament this past weekend.
Runner-up: Steamboat Springs boys soccer vs. Summit on Sept. 9
Best individual performance: Steamboat Springs’ Britt Walton
Britt Walton was already the Sailors’ best golfer, but the junior decided to try his hand in two sports in one season.
With a little recruiting from his friends, Walton competitively returned to the tennis court for the first time since his childhood.
He responded by qualifying for the 4A state championships in both sports and had a good enough first round at the golf championships to play with the leading group in the final round.
Runner-up: Steamboat Springs’ Tatum Burger at the 4A cross country championships
Newcomers of the season: Steamboat Springs’ Tatum Burger and Soroco’s Ben Kelley
Just a freshman, Ben Kelley was one of two athletes on the Rams’ upstart cross country program. But even with little intra-squad competition in practice, and only one teammate to hang with on long road trips to meets, Kelley exploded onto the 2A running scene.
He finished in the top three of ninth-graders in every regular-season meet he competed in, including a second place overall finish at Summit and a fourth place finish out of 110 runners at Rifle. Soroco fans should get used to Kelley, too. He’ll be playing basketball this winter and running track in the spring.
Tatum Burger had an equally impressive season, leading a revamped Sailors girls program back to prominence.
Burger grabbed a pair of gold medals in regular-season meets and placed 17th at the 4A state championships despite suffering a nasty fall at the starting gun.
Runner-up: Steamboat Springs boys soccer’s Cruz Archuleta
Best coaching job: Soroco football’s Josef Keller
Soroco High School football faced a tall order heading into 2014 after losing the bulk of its star players to graduation. But when former head coach David Bruner stepped down, Josef Keller, the school’s athletic director, had little choice but to fill the position himself.
No viable candidates came forward, so Keller made a last-minute decision to take over the program on a one-and-done basis.
The Rams suffered their lumps, losing handily to some state powerhouses, but they also scored some big league wins, including an 18-10 victory at Rangely and a 43-6 win on Senior Night against rival Hayden.
Soroco finished 5-3 but narrowly missed the 8-man playoffs. Keller now gets to enjoy his regular job as AD, which includes finding a more permanent coach for Soroco football in 2015.
Runner-up: Steamboat Springs volleyball coach Wendy Hall
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Routt County Department of Public Health will now only test symptomatic individuals for COVID-19. The decision, announced Thursday, is based on guidance the county received from the state about Curative tests.