A few state title defenses fell short in local high school sports, but Roaring Fork Valley’s teams made a lot of noise during the fall season.
Basalt was perhaps the biggest first-trimester winner on the sporting calendar, with a quartet of playoff runs benefiting from what was likely the school’s first unbeaten season in football.
The Longhorns went through the league game 9-0 in purely dominant fashion and entered the playoffs as one of two undefeated teams in 2A football — the other, Delta, will play for the state championship on Saturday. No league team finished within 10 points of Basalt in the head-to-head race.
They won their first playoff game since 2019 at home to Woodland Park in a final 45-24 loss. However, things came to an abrupt end in the quarterfinals against two-time defending champions Eaton, who will be looking for a three-pointer against Delta this weekend.
Senior running back Cooper Crawford earns high recognition in postseason awards, according to MaxPreps data, rushing for 1,489 yards, 100 more than any other 2A player. His 21 touchdowns is behind only Bennett’s Connor Rayburn, who had 25.
Basalt also saw the arrival of his golf team – a collaboration between the Longhorns, Roaring Fork and Glenwood Springs. The Longhorns finished second at the Regionals at River Valley Ranch in Carbondale, one shot behind eventual state champion Vail Mountain. At the booth, they took eighth place out of 12 teams.
But with three juniors – Garrett Exelbert, Jase Joslin and Alec Claassen – and one sophomore – Jackson Stewart – the team expects to return all of its competitors next year with another year of experience. Exelbert was named to the first-team All-State team and Joslin took home an honorable mention.
Out on the trails, basalt cross-country star Katelyn Maley watched her bid for a third individual state championship be thwarted by a record-breaking performance from Liberty Common’s Isabel Allori. Maley still finished second in her senior competition. Joining her on the podium was a good friend and fellow eldest Ava Lane, who had her best state performance of her high school career and placed sixth. Both were named first-team all-state by CHSAA. The Longhorns also saw their boys’ team qualify for the state, a year after only having one boy on the team.
Basalt’s softball team finished 12-9 and secured a playoff berth after missing the postseason a year earlier. The team won eight of nine games in the middle part of the schedule and finished fourth in the league, but still advanced to the Regionalliga, falling in the first game. Senior Kiera Larson received an honorable mention on the All-State team.
Basalt football crept into the 3A playoffs, gathering momentum towards the end of the season and nearly upsetting defending champions Roaring Fork on their final night. The soccer team failed in the first round of the playoffs but will only graduate three seniors, according to MaxPreps. Freshman defenseman Arym Mellin was awarded an honorable mention on the all-state team.
Aspen High’s fall highlight was the boys’ golf team’s resurgence in its defending title season, despite losing key players from the championship. The Skiers qualified four players to State Out of Regionals, allowing them to compete as a team. There they overtook Basalt in the final standings and finished fifth. Senior Carson Miller was named to the first-team All-State list and senior Sky Sosna was named to the second-team.
Ski volleyball finished the season 11-11 to sneak into the regional round of the playoffs as No. 33. They upset No. 21 Bennett but fell to No. 4 Faith Christian and made no progress.
Aspen Cross-Country also sent two young runners to the state and qualified the girls team, who finished 14th overall.
On the tennis court, Junior Chase Kelly was a regional champion and advanced to the state tournament as the No. 1 singles player. He fell in his first matchup with Discovery Canyon’s Sean Bratkowsky. Skiers’ singles No. 2 Josh Ward and doubles No. 2 Daane Reische and Nico Smith each missed a spot to qualify for the state, who were listed as substitutes.
The Rams’ Cinderella Boys’ soccer state championship in 2021 did not have the continuation the team had hoped for, being eliminated from the state playoffs in the quarterfinals against Liberty Common.
Roaring Fork ended 15-3 but fell against the top opponents they faced, Liberty Common twice and division rivals – and champions – Coal Ridge. Junior Foster Hayes made the first-team All-State roster and senior Emi Magana made the second-team. Senior Max Brooke and Junior Jake Barlow received honorable mentions.
In volleyball, the Rams turned a 15-10 record in the regional round of the 26th-ranked playoffs. They led the No. 14 Vanguard School but fell behind to No. 11 Resurrection Christian to end their season.
In a non-CHSAA competition, Senior Corbin Carpenter finished sixth in the Colorado High School Cycling League Mountain Bike State Championships, slowed by illness.
In a turnaround season for volleyball, Glenwood Springs secured 22nd place in the 4A regional round. The Demons went into the season 15-10, their first winning campaign in three years. Seniors Siri Henderson and Mattea Enewold were selected for all conferences. All-state rosters have not yet been announced for volleyball.
Demon Football saw an upset last week that knocked them out of playoff contention and advanced to the season finals at Palisade to secure a spot. As they fell 42-8, they fell to 5-5 overall and were eliminated from the race.
In cross-country, Sophia Connerton-Nevin was the only qualifier and placed 49th in the state in 4A.
In mountain biking, senior Chloe Lutgring climbed several places and finished fourth in the state.
After the Thanksgiving break, the winter sports season begins when the area’s skiers hit the slopes and Aspen Basketball with a new roster after its unbeaten championship season.