Luke Graham.

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Luke Graham.

Luke Graham: 3-sport athletes aren't a thing of the past

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Luke Graham

Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Luke here.

Choosing the Routt County High School Athletes of the Year is never as easy as I'd like it to be.

It's certainly not hard to come up with a list of worthy local athletes. But choosing just one can be a tedious venture. This year's winners were Holli Salazar, from Hayden, and Alex Wood, from Steamboat Springs. Each was profiled in Sunday's sports section.

It's hard to not select student-athletes who have won state championships and medals at year-end events. But this year's two selections each have something in common - something that made them stand out beyond the others.

Salazar and Wood weren't just three-sport athletes, they were phenomenal in all three sports they played.

The multi-sport athlete is dying at the high school level. Nowadays, everything is so specialized that athletes oftentimes have to pick one sport and stick to it.

The push to play sports beyond high school has taken the incentive away from playing multiple sports. It's sad to say and sad to see, but if a young athlete wants to play in college or garner consideration from college, they have to almost specialize in one - maybe two - sports.

It can be a year-round thing for most athletes. Take a look at Steamboat's Austin Hinder, who just verbally committed to play football at the University of California-Berkley. Hinder, a heck of an athlete in his own right, spends his summers competing at national camps. Sure, he played basketball and used to run track and field, but his main focus was on football. Even during the basketball season, Hinder could be found working out for football.

Salazar and Wood showed that athletes cannot only do more than one sport, they can excel in more than one, too.

Salazar was a terror on the volleyball and basketball courts. She often was the focal point of most opponents' game plans. Although the track season didn't end the way she had hoped, Salazar still was regarded as one of the best throwers in the state.

Wood was equally impressive.

He dominated in football, basketball and baseball. He was a man among boys in all three sports, earning the praise from coaches across the Western Slope League and the state.

So although the three-sport athlete rapidly is becoming a thing of the past, Salazar and Wood proved it's still a viable thing.

And for that, the two earned the distinction of Routt County High School Athletes of the Year.

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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