Routt County high school athletes of the year
Awards include teams and coach of the year for 2015-16
Routt County female athlete of year: BRIANA PETERSON
The Soroco High School girls basketball team has had no issue churning out top-notch talent in recent years. Last year, it was Jessica Rossi, who recently finished her first season playing for Eastern Wyoming College.
When Rossi was named the 2015 Routt County high school female athlete of the year, it gave class of 2016 star Briana Peterson something to strive for. And, after a dominant senior season on the basketball court, to go with solid campaigns in volleyball and track, Peterson became an easy pick for this year’s player of the year honor.
“I was shooting for it, but if I didn’t get it, it wouldn’t be the end of the world,” Peterson said. “It means a lot, just seeing other people from my school get it. It feels like my work has been paying off.”
A good multi-sport athlete, it was always about basketball for Peterson. Her career started off slow, ACL injuries sidelining her for much of her first two seasons with Soroco. She was solid as a junior, averaging 15.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, just behind Rossi in both categories. Then, as a senior, Peterson averaged 23 points and 9.9 rebounds per game, leading the Rams to a 20-4 record, only the second 20-win season in program history.
The Rams advanced to its third consecutive Class 2A regional championship game before falling to eventual state runner-up Paonia. Peterson was named the 2A Western Slope Gore League player of the year and was awarded second team all-state honors.
What she’ll remember most is working with the younger players, who she believes can carry on the strong tradition without her.
“They’ll be ready,” Peterson said. “Most of them have played with us, so they know how it works. I think they’ll be OK.”
Peterson also was a major component of the Rams’ 11-9 volleyball team, finishing second to senior Lucy Carlson with 146 kills. She additionally qualified for the state track and field meet in shot put and was a member of the girls 1,600-meter relay team.
Now, she’ll leave the other sports behind, to focus on her first love, when she joins the women’s basketball program at NCAA Division II Adams State University in the fall.
“I’ll miss them,” Peterson said. “I’m excited. I’ve been working hard, and I feel like I’ve finally got to this point, and I’m ready.”
Steamboat Springs High School female athlete of the year: MADDIE LABOR
The 2015-16 school year featured two of the best high school girls teams Steamboat has seen in the past decade, as both the soccer and volleyball teams won league titles.
With standout seniors everywhere, it took something special to standout, and in her final campaign for the Sailors, Maddie Labor managed to do just that.
Labor was at her best in the fall playing for the Sailors’ Western Slope champion volleyball team. In her second season as the team’s libero, Labor proved to be the indispensable piece on a team overflowing with excellent, veteran players. Saving points and serving as one of the team’s emotional leaders, she helped lead the way to a home date in the regional tournament.
She won league player of the year honors and will play collegiately at Regis University.
Labor followed up that success with a spring stint on the Sailors tennis team. She slotted in as the team’s best player, taking on the No. 1 singles role, at least until she blew out her knee during a mid-season match.
She ended her career on crutches, watching from the sideline, but during her time as a Sailor, Labor was anything but a fly on the wall.
Also considered: Mackenzie Gansmann, skiing, soccer; Natalie Bohlmann, skiing, soccer; Ocoee Wilson, soccer; Jenna Miller, volleyball, basketball, golf; Annie Osbourn, volleyball, basketball
Hayden High School female athlete of the year: JESSIKA HOCKETT
If consistency means anything to you, Hayden High School junior Jessika Hockett is your girl. A three-sport athlete for the Tigers, she was a dedicated player in volleyball, basketball and track. Her work ethic shined through and allowed fans to take notice.
“It was just her commitment to each sport and how she finished,” Hayden girls basketball coach Michelle Wilkie said. “That’s what really stuck out in our mind about her.”
In volleyball, Hockett was third on the team with 41 kills. In basketball, she was a key rebounder for the Tigers. She competed in the discus, shot put and triple jump in track. With her willingness to work, Hockett should again shine as a senior.
Also considered: Darian Murphy, volleyball, basketball, track; Allison Ingols, volleyball, basketball, track
Routt County male athlete of year: ERIC LOGAN
Soroco High School senior Eric Logan never really had a go-to move in football. In his words, he just “kind of ran people over.” And, as a fullback and linebacker for the Rams, that’s exactly what was expected of him. Most of the time, he was blocking for his brother, freshman running back Jace Logan, or trucking through people with the football in his own hands.
But, this was only a piece of the puzzle that led to Eric Logan being named the 2016 Routt County high school male athlete of the year. A three-sport competitor in football, basketball and rodeo, as well as the 2016 class president for Soroco, Logan is the epitome of a student-athlete.
“I’m grateful. I’ve been pretty blessed throughout high school,” Logan said. “Being athlete of the year just means the world to me, because all the hard work is paying off. It’s just kind of a reward for me.”
After leading the football team to a 4-4 record, which included three straight wins to finish the season, Logan guided the boys basketball team to a 15-5 mark. Despite missing the first seven games of the season due to a lingering football injury, Logan still led the team with 15.3 points per game and was named the Class 2A Western Slope Gore League player of the year.
However, Logan lives for the spring and summer, when he shines as one of the top young cowboys in the state.
“I go from rodeo to football and pretty much straight into basketball,” Logan said. “Then, right back into rodeo again. It’s non-stop work, pretty much around the year. But I have fun doing it.”
Logan was the all-around champion for the Colorado State High School Rodeo Association as a junior and recently took second overall as a senior. He was the state’s steer wrestling champion each of his final two years in high school and will once again be headed to the national high school rodeo finals in July.
Logan will attend Odessa College in Texas in the fall on a full-ride scholarship to study agricultural sciences and compete as a member of the school’s rodeo team.
“There about the last two weeks of school, when we were kind of finishing everything, I saw some football pictures and whatnot, and it kind of hit me a little bit,” Logan said. “I’m going to miss it, for sure, but I’m excited for college, at the same time.”
Steamboat Springs High School male athlete of the year: JORDAN GORR
Steamboat’s Jordan Gorr wasn’t the flashiest player, but helping lead the team’s defense on both the hockey and lacrosse teams, he still did plenty to stand out as the school’s male athlete of the year.
Without Gorr and his selfless attitude, neither team would have been able to find the successes they did. Gorr, who considers hockey his primary sport, was a hard hitter for the hockey team, which improved by 10 wins throughout the year before and won its first playoff game since 2011, with Gorr scoring the game winner in overtime.
He carried that same mentality into the lacrosse season, where he helped lead the Sailors to a 10-6 record and a spot in the state playoffs. Gorr, who plans to attend Fort Lewis College to study business next fall, was named second team all-state as a defender in lacrosse and invited to play in the Class 4A all-star game.
Also considered: Cruz Archuleta, soccer; Jack Salyer, soccer; Drew Williamson, lacrosse; Joe DeLine, football, lacrosse; Zach Holm, football, basketball
Hayden High School male athlete of the year: CHRISTIAN CARSON
A season didn’t go by for Hayden High School without Christian Carson being a major factor for the Tigers. The junior was a force for the football team, leading the way in tackles (104) and sacks (3). He also was the team’s leading rusher with 249 yards.
Carson was even better in the winter, when he took to wrestling. He went 28-3 overall at 195 pounds and finished second at regionals. He fought his way to the Class 2A state semifinals before losing an 8-5 decision, eventually settling for sixth place, overall.
Carson also was a solid thrower for the Tigers track and field team, coming short of a spot in the state meet.
While it wasn’t a strong overall season for Hayden boys athletics — the football team went 1-7, for instance — Carson was definitely a bright spot for the Tigers.
Also considered: Hunter Rummel, football, wrestling; Alan Aguirre, football, basketball, track
Coach of the year: WENDY HALL
Senior classes come and go, but they don’t all have quite the effect on Steamboat Springs High School girls volleyball coach Wendy Hall as this year’s did.
It was a group that seemed to have everything, from big hitters to expert setters and an ace libero.
That group helped push the Steamboat volleyball program to its highest heights in nearly 15 years, winning its first league title since 2002.
It was Hall who helped build that group, however, this season and through the past three, as those pieces were introduced and cemented into the varsity roster.
The team she built was experienced enough to manage its big-time expectations through the long season, and it was focused enough to bounce back after every setback.
Hall was named the Western Slope volleyball coach of the year, an honor she certainly earned, thanks to the work she put in crafting a team, then helping it to great success.
Also considered: Chris Campanelli, Steamboat hockey; Rob Bohlmann, Steamboat boys and girls soccer; David Bruner, Soroco track and girls basketball
Breakout athlete of the year: JACE LOGAN
Soroco freshman Jace Logan didn’t so much “breakout” onto the Class 2A Western Slope sports scene as much as he descended upon it, like a tornado.
Logan romped to all-league honorable mention status as a running back on the football team in the fall, scoring 10 touchdowns running, catching and returning the ball.
He outdid even that performance on the wrestling mat, Racking up a 36-8 record in the 145-pound class. Wide-eyed when he first took the mats at the state tournament in Denver, he was keenly focused by the end of the tournament, shocking the field by advancing all the way to the state championship match. His journey finally ended there, but there was still no shame to be had: His opponent capped off a 119-match winning streak and won his third consecutive state title.
Finally, Logan was strong in the spring, competing on the high school rodeo circuit. There, he placed third in team roping, earning a trip to July’s national finals.
Steamboat Springs High School breakout athlete of the year: DAVIS PETERSEN
As a freshman for the Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse team, Davis Petersen was a leader on junior varsity. He didn’t start playing varsity until this spring, his sophomore year, and it didn’t take long for him to stand out.
Petersen finished second on the team in 2016, with 42 goals during the regular season. That mark was bested only by senior all-state selection Drew Williamson’s 50 goals. For his success, Petersen was named all league and honorable mention all state.
Hayden High School breakout athlete: ALLISON INGOLS
Soft-spoken, polite and dedicated in the classroom, Hayden High School freshman Allison Ingols proved to be the definition of a multi-sport athlete. It started with volleyball, where she was sixth on the team with 115 kills, but first in kill percentage at 33.9 percent.
Ingols was a role player for the girls basketball team, a head injury causing her to miss a few games. She bounced back by spring, however, and was Hayden’s lone representative at the state track and field meet in Lakewood, placing 15th in the triple jump.
Most improved athlete of the year: HAYDEN JOHNSON
Steamboat Springs sophomore Hayden Johnson surprised even himself with how strong his wrestling season proved to be.
Sure, Johnson was wrestling well throughout the season, and simply making the state tournament would have been an accomplishment for the 160 pounder after he fell just short the year before.
But making state proved to be only the start. Johnson charged to a regional championship, then kept it up at the state tournament. He edged an opponent, 5-4, in the quarterfinals, then beat the state’s No. 2 seed, 8-3, to become the first Steamboat wrestler to advance to the finals in more than a decade.
Johnson ended up in second, but if he improves as much in this offseason as he did in the last, he could be poised to take that next step to the top of the podium.
Also considered: Raya Duryea, basketball; Jon Rinck, basketball; Ethan Riniker, basketball
Hayden High School most improved: HUNTER RUMMEL
Hayden senior Hunter Rummel went from missing the state wrestling tournament as a junior to making major memories there as a senior.
Like any optimistic teenager, he had hopes of winning the Class 2A 220-pound bracket. That dream died in the quarterfinals, but Rummel didn’t. He bounced back the same day to win in the consolation, then won there again in his final high school match to lock up fifth place and earning a state medal.
Soroco High School most improved athlete: MATTIE ROSSI
Soroco High School’s Mattie Rossi proved herself someone to watch when she took home three medals at the state track and field meet as a freshman.
That success capped a strong all-around season for the young Ram. She saw some time on the varsity volleyball team, then served as an important component on the girls basketball team, averaging 5.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
She left some success on the table at state track, false starting out of her best event, the 100-meter hurdles. Her season’s body of work proved she’s more than capable of making up for it in the future.
Comeback player of the year: ANNIE OSBOURN
Steamboat senior Annie Osbourn blew out her knee early in the 2014-15 high school basketball season, and her return from that injury during her senior season was anything but easy. In fact, her “comeback” wasn’t so much one big effort, as it was many.
She sustained smaller knee injuries throughout her senior year, especially before and during basketball. At times it limited her, but it never stopped her.
In volleyball, Osbourn was named all-league honorable mention and was a key figure in the team’s league championship run. She then earned first-team Western Slope honors in basketball.
Also considered: DaKota Bruner, basketball, track
Routt County high school female team of the year: STEAMBOAT GIRLS SOCCER
Returning a field full of savvy seniors, the Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer team’s 2016 season seemed years in the making.
That journey paid off, too, as the squad fought its way to its best season in nearly 20 years. The Sailors lost only one regular season game and even that was a double-overtime thriller. They went undefeated through the Western Slope schedule, winning that league for the first time since 2006, and they did it in style.
They earned eight shutouts on the season, including two against rival Battle Mountain.
The team boasted high end talent on both ends of the field. On one end, goalie Ocoee Wilson lead a stout defense that allowed only six goals in 15 regular season games. On the other, the team used a persistent and diversified attack to rack up 68 goals, one of the most potent offenses in the state and in school history.
Steamboat survived on penalty kicks to advance to the state quarterfinals, where its season finally ended with a 3-0 loss to eventual state champion Lewis-Palmer.
Also considered: Steamboat girls volleyball, Soroco girls basketball
Routt County high school male team of the year: STEAMBOAT BOYS HOCKEY
It was an undeniably great turnaround for the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team. A year ago, Chris Campanelli’s first season as head coach, the Sailors limped to a dismal 3-16 overall record.
This winter, however with a plethora of talent returning, Steamboat was among the biggest surprises in the state. Led by 11 seniors, the Sailors finished 13-7 overall, a 10-win improvement over the year before, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs before losing to eventual state champion Regis Jesuit. The season highlight came in the first round of the playoffs, a come-from-behind, 3-2 win against Lewis-Palmer.
Steamboat ranked in the top 10 most of the season, an early-season upset of then No. 7 Resurrection Christian boosting the team permanently into the upper echelons of the state.
Campanelli was named Colorado State High School Activities Association’s coach of the year for the turnaround.
“What a great honor for such a long journey from last summer to the end of the season,” Campanelli said in March. “This couldn’t have been done with the great assistant coaches I have in Kerry Shea and Matt Workman and the unbelievable hard work and dedication the kids gave this year. The success they had on the ice was theirs.”
Also considered: Steamboat boys lacrosse, Soroco boys basketball
Top 12 highlights of 2015-16
The 2015-16 high school sports season had plenty of good and plenty of bad. Here are the 12 moments from Steamboat, Soroco and Hayden that shouldn’t have been missed.
1. Steamboat volleyball beats Battle
Steamboat volleyball had already beaten Battle Mountain once during the fall season, and the team was closing in on the Western Slope Championship.
It wouldn’t be official until the squad won on the Huskies’ home floor, however.
Steamboat hadn’t won a league title since 2002, and its final regular season match, against Battle, proved a worthy hurdle. The Huskies took the lead early, winning the first set in powerful fashion, 17-25. Steamboat stormed back in the second, then took the final two, as well, 25-20, 25-18, 25-19.
The Sailors celebrated their victory with a dog pile on their rivals’ home court.
2. Steamboat girls soccer wins on PKs
The best season in 15 years for the Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer team looked as though it was going to end at home in the second round of the state playoffs against Silver Creek.
The Raptors broke open a scoreless game with 24 minutes to play. Steamboat managed to strike back, however, and junior Brooke Buchanan scored with 14 minutes remaining to send the teams to overtime.
A couple of overtime periods later, the game went to penalty kicks. Senior Ellese Lupori gave the Sailors a 3-2 edge after three kicks, while senior goalie Ocoee Wilson came up with a key save to finish off the win.
3. Kelley wins 800-meter run at state
Expectations were undoubtedly high for Soroco High School sophomore Ben Kelley entering the state track and field meet this spring. He ranked highly among Class 2A athletes in the 800-meter race and the 1,600 and figured to be a strong podium contender in both.
He broke through in the 800. He came in seeded fourth, but took the lead out of the first turn and held it until early in the second lap, when Lyons runner Paul Roberts passed him. Then, rounding the final turn, Kelley stomped on the gas and literally ran away from the field, giving the Rams their first individual state champion since 2010.
He finished with a 2A state meet record time of 1:59.80.
Roberts and Kelley met up again the next day in the 1,600-meter race, which Roberts won in record fashion. Kelley, right on his heels most of the race, took second.
4. Sailors hockey surges in playoffs
The Sailors hadn’t won a state playoff game since 2011 heading into the first round as a No. 12 seed in February. It was a rematch against Lewis-Palmer, which had defeated Steamboat 3-2 in the fourth game of the season.
In the playoff rematch, Lewis-Palmer led 1-0 early before Harry Wilson tied the game. The Sailors again trailed by a goal, until Jack Coon scored late to send the teams to overtime tied 2-2.
The extra period belonged to Steamboat. Senior Jordan Gorr scored the game winner, scooping up a rebound on a missed shot by Nate Kelley that sent the Sailors to the state quarterfinals. The win was the 13th and final of the season for Steamboat, a 10-win improvement over the season before.
5. Soroco football beats Plateau Valley
It was a senior day to remember for the Soroco High School football team. Earlier that season, the Rams had lost a non-league game at Plateau Valley, 33-26. The teams met again, this time in a league contest, in Soroco’s final home game of the season.
The rematch began poorly for the Rams, and the team soon trailed 21-0.
That all changed in the second quarter. Soroco cut into the lead by 16 points by halftime. The Cowboys scored again early in the third, but Soroco took control from there. Junior quarterback Isaac Jonas scored late in the third for Soroco, then found senior Warren Hayes with a 38-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 28.
It came down to one final drive; the Rams, with only a few minutes to go, took over 98 yards from the end zone after recovering a Plateau Valley fumble near the goal line. The game-winning score came via a bad snap to Jonas. He dodged several tackles, then let loose a 30-yard frantic heave that flew right to sophomore Kendall Hood, who was waiting in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
6. Steamboat relay sets school record (again)
In some regards, the Steamboat Springs High School girls 3,200-meter relay team shouldn’t have been at the state track meet. However, only a week before state, the foursome broke the school record, finishing in nine minutes, 52.79 seconds, a personal record by nearly 20 seconds and a time that pushed them into state qualification.
Then, at state in Lakewood, it happened again. Seniors Alexandra Tumminello, Allison Casey, Kathleen O’Connell and freshman Winter Boese, racing together for only the third time, completed the state finale in 9:47.79. The new school record was good for 10th overall in Class 4A and one spot off the podium.
7. Semifinal success at state wrestling
It was a fast, furious and exciting couple of minutes at the state wrestling tournament as a pair of Routt County wrestlers punched their tickets to the state finals.
Both came as a bit of a surprise.
Steamboat sophomore Hayden Johnson got it done at 160 pounds in Class 3A, beating the state’s No. 2 seed, 8-3, to advance to the finals.
Soroco freshman Jace Logan, meanwhile, reached that achievement in Class 2A’s 140 pound bracket. Logan faced a competitor who already beat him twice during the season, including a pin just a week prior. Logan got him on the third try, however, notching a third-round escape and takedown to grab a 3-1 victory.
8. Soroco girls bounce back, take down West Grand
The Rams had bigger plans for the 2015-16 girls basketball season, but a big part of what they hoped to accomplish required going back-to-back as champions of the Western Slope League-Gore division.
Their ability to do that was very much up in the air late in the season after a two-point loss at home against Vail Christian. Suddenly, Soroco had lost its room for error, and it had a tough road trip waiting the next day, to West Grand, another major threat to win the division.
Up against its toughest regular season stretch, Soroco got it done, defeating the Mustangs, 57-45. The Rams held West Grand to five points in the fourth quarter to secure the win and lock up the division.
9. Hayden girls hold off Hotchkiss
With five regular season wins and a season full of injuries, the winter was far from kind to the Hayden High School girls basketball team.
Things all came together in the first round of the district playoffs against Hotchkiss, however, and for one night at least, fans saw the best the Tigers had.
Hayden led 20-2 early and went on to a 50-30 victory. Nothing demonstrated the team’s improvement better than free throw shooting. It had been a major problem for the team all season. At times, it had struggled to crack 25 percent from the line.
Against Hotchkiss, though, the squad made 22 of 33.
10. Wild playoff game sinks boys soccer
Hosting its first playoff game since 2009, the No. 16 seed Steamboat Springs High School boys soccer team faced No. 17 seed D’Evelyn in the first round of the state playoffs, but the game didn’t have a fairy-tale ending.
Steamboat looked strong early, taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Jack Salyer and Cruz Archuleta. But, a late first-half Jaguars goal cut into the lead and the team tied it midway through the second.
It looked as if overtime was going to be required until a free kick opportunity with less than a minute remaining in regulation gave the Sailors a chance to avoid extra time. Only, the plan ran awry, D’Evelyn quickly turned the tables to score with 17 seconds to play, the goal proving to be the difference in the Jaguars’ 3-2 win.
11. Sailors short at regional golf
It didn’t end with a Steamboat celebration, but that didn’t keep Steamboat’s performance on its home Haymaker Golf Course from being one of the most memorable events of the year.
The Sailors came in trying to break Durango’s chokehold on the region and, late in the day, appeared poised to do so.
Steamboat finished with the top two individual scores, Britt Walton taking the regional title with a 71 and Will Firestone finishing second with a 73. Jack Starkey, too, had played well enough to earn a spot at the state tournament.
The team ended up in a dead heat with Durango, however, and the two squads went to a playoff to decide the winner.
Steamboat’s Noah Bass played the best of his team’s foursome on the final hole, earning a birdie, but it wasn’t enough, and Durango held on for a one-shot win.
12. Soroco boys denied their shot
One of the weirder finishes a fan is likely to see left the Soroco High School boys basketball team frustrated in January, despite having pulled off its biggest win of the season.
Vail Christian beat the Rams in the first of the teams’ two match ups during the regular season, rolling to a decisive 29-point victory on its home court. Soroco took full advantage of the rematch, however, and returned the favor. The Rams blew the game open and led by 19 midway through the fourth quarter.
Then, Vail quit. The Saints held the ball for the final three minutes, losing the game, but preserving a point-differential tiebreaker over Soroco in the division standings.
Soroco won the game, 61-43, but couldn’t help feeling slighted.
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