Summer fun at Howelsen Beach


— The sand volleyball courts at Howelsen Hill took on a party-like atmosphere this weekend as the annual Powderkeg Doubles Volleyball tournament took center stage.

On Saturday, a couple of locals were celebrating their big win in the Dinosaur division as former professionals. Reed Stephenson and Paul Cook took the title in the 2001 Powderkeg.

"There was some pretty solid competition," Cook said. "We had 21 teams this year, which is pretty good."

Cook, who won the title two years ago with partner Rob Crawford, said he has never lost a game in the Dinosaur division at the Steamboat tournament. The 36-year-old has won the title with several different partners over the years including both Crawford and Stephenson.

"It's just a fun event," Cook said. "It's all in one day, which is about all us older guys can take."

Cook and Stephenson downed Crawford and his partner, Carl Blackman, in both the winner's bracket finals and the finals of the division championships.

The local team squeezed out the first win of the day in a hard-fought 15-13 game. Crawford and Blackman then battled back through the loser's bracket for another shot at the locals in the championship game. In that game, Cook and Stephenson won 15-7.

"I thought it was going to be a lot harder than that," Cook said. "I guess it took something out of them to have to come back through."

Cook decided to skip this year's open division, which opened play on Saturday. But he did stop by to watch some of the other matches.

"This is just a great tournament," Cook said. "It's nice to see some of the younger guys come out and play, and it's nice to have it here in Steamboat."

On Saturday, Steamboat's representatives in the open men's division were Jonathan Wheby and Eric Younker. The pair started playing in Steamboat last year and were taking their first shot at the open division of the local tournament.

"We entered pretty late," Wheby said. "I read about it in the paper, so we showed up and played."

The team lost its first match of the day in a close battle, but that didn't dampen its enthusiasm for the event.

"We play here in Steamboat a couple of times a week and just wanted to come out and give this tournament a try," Wheby said.

His partner, Younker, said he grew up playing volleyball in California and is happy Steamboat is developing its own volleyball community through drop-in volleyball two nights a week at Howelsen.

Event like this tournament only make it stronger.

"We play every Tuesday and Thursday," Younker said. "It's pretty low key; we have our own tournaments and everybody cooks burgers and drinks beer. It's a good time."

This weekend the group was a little more serious, but the atmosphere at Howelsen was still geared for a good time.


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