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Basalt spring sports hit a homer
Strong finishes, optimism for the future
soccer-delaney card
Delaney Card keeps the ball from some defenders. Courtesy Photo

Basalt High School sports have been through a unique spring season in 2019, and it’s not quite over yet. 

There has been success, lots of optimism for the future as well as an unpredictably deep emotion that’s affected and bonded many athletes as well as the entire BHS community. It’s fair to say the student-athletes gave a lot, lost some and came through it all united.

Longhorn baseball finished its 2019 campaign last weekend by splitting a pair of doubleheaders. The team lost the first game on Friday 11-0 to Moffat County, but came back to beat the Bulldogs 9-6. On Saturday, the team took on Roaring Fork and won the first contest, 7-3 from the Rams, but lost the second game by a score of 11-4. It was a strong finish for the ’Horns, who won four of their last seven games, for an overall record of 6–13 or 3–6 in the 3A Western Slope League.

Coach Robert Smith says this Longhorn squad has included some of the best athletes he’s seen in his coaching career. He adds there’ll be a lot of talent on the diamond in 2020. 

“We do have a robust amount of pitching, especially in the underclassmen coming up. We’ve got a freshman in Sam Sherry who’s got our highest batting average right now – .517, that’s awesome – we’ve got sophomores that are going to be juniors, we’ve got our junior class that’ll be seniors next year, so the underclassmen are a huge part of our varsity team right now, which has been great.” 

Smith adds, “Just looking around now, we’re losing two stellar seniors in Trevor Reuss and Jake Reardon, but with those underclassmen that are coming up, we’re going to be strong. Really strong.” 

Longhorn tennis, after only two seasons, is still new, but the ball seems to be bouncing the right way for Coach Diana Elliott, who has overseen the team from the start. 

Although the record was 1–7 overall, with no league victories, their win against 5A Grand Junction’s JV’s was a milestone Elliott says the Longhorns take pride in. 

“That was our first match win, in only our second year of being a tennis team at Basalt High School. Also, the girls who came out for these past two years had barely picked up the racket before. That was huge.”

Elliott says the majority of the team had never played the game before, but they’ve all picked it up well and have been coachable, getting more confident in each match. 

Basalt’s been led by Courtney Hassell, a Bridges senior. She and Monse Soto, who’s played for Elliott since the first year, are this year’s only seniors, so the future looks bright with a ton of returning athletes, including number one singles player Mari Elliott, and Hannah Miller in doubles. 

Coach Elliott loves her team dynamic: “The best thing I can say about my team overall is that they all got along. They all really liked each other, they’re friends, and there’s no drama.”

Tennis bounces back with boys’ play in the fall; the girls will return next spring. 

What a kick

Basalt girls’ soccer came under new management this season, in veteran Aspen club coach Kate McBride. 

“It started with everything new, so it’s pretty difficult to ask the same group of girls to do something with a new team, a new coach, new policies, new – everything,” she says.

Yet McBride ended up with a club that surpassed any expectation she might’ve had. The big rivalry told the story.

Aspen blanked Basalt 5-0 on April 11. But over the next few weeks, losing to powerful Faith Christian 4-3 in overtime, then winning three straight over Roaring Fork, Grand Valley, and Moffat County, the ’Horns hooked up with the Skiers again on May 3, and were a totally different team, battling to a 2-2 draw after double overtime. 

“I was so proud of the girls, they had grown into complete athletes. Very proud coach I am,” she says.

Their glow faded that evening, however, as the ’Horns learned of the traffic crash that had taken the life of classmate Tyler Ribich and injured others. They still had to play the next day at Grand Junction High School. 

Coach McBride totally understands the 3-0 loss.

“It was not an accurate representation of these girls in my opinion, because they were emotionally somewhere else. I was very proud of the team stepping up. It took a lot out of them.”

Basalt made the 3A playoffs on May 8 in very snowy Salida. The game ended up called late in the second half for safety, a call with which McBride agreed. The final score was 7-2. 

The Longhorns will lose four seniors, but there’s lots of young talent returning, and they hope to get current sophomore Delaney Card back from a knee injury.

McBride is optimistic about her second Basalt season. “I think it’s an incredible group of girls. I don’t see any one individual standing out, because they are so unified, that it was the entire team. They came together as one.”

Back on track

The team that’s still competing is track and field and athletes are heading for the state meet this weekend in Lakewood. 

Head coach Allyson Decatur says her team’s ready, despite the kind of spring most teens never have to deal with – losing two friends, Anna Cunningham due to cancer in late February, and Tyler Ribich this month. 

“They’ve done tremendously well for this season. We’ve had a mix of some really awesome celebrations with lots of school records coming down, but then these young student-athletes have had to deal with the passing of two classmates. It’s a life lesson that nobody wants to learn, but they’ve all learned it at a very young age and I think they’re handling it pretty well,”says Decatur.

Five of the eight girls on Basalt’s team are state qualifiers. 

“We have Katie Bohannan in the pole vault, then we have Megan Maley in the 800, Sierra Bower in the 1-mile and the 2-mile, and she’s also on our 800-meter relay, which is Sierra, Megan, Lily Gillis and Madelyn Ellison. Then we have Ben Williams in the 110 hurdles, and then Rulbe Alvarado in the 200 meters,” Decatur says.

Bohannan set Basalt’s initial girls’ pole vault record this season, then topped it three times. She’s currently clearing 8 feet. 

Maley has qualified for state every year she’s been on the team, and last year her 4 x 800 team broke the school mark. This year, she’s broken the 800-meter record at Montrose at 2:22.55, and last week in Grand Junction beat that new one by 3 seconds. 

At the recent league meet, sophomore Bower broke the 1-mile and 2-mile (1,600 and 3,200 meters) school records, and she also won Outstanding Female Athlete of the Western Slope League.

Decatur doesn’t want to make any predictions, but she’s thinking there could be more school records broken in Lakewood.