Hayden High School 2009 graduate Holli Salazar stood out in volleyball, basketball and track during her senior year as a Tiger. Salazar's efforts earned her the honor of Routt County Female Athlete of the Year from the <cite>Steamboat Pilot & Today</cite>.

Photo by John F. Russell

Hayden High School 2009 graduate Holli Salazar stood out in volleyball, basketball and track during her senior year as a Tiger. Salazar's efforts earned her the honor of Routt County Female Athlete of the Year from the <cite>Steamboat Pilot & Today</cite>.

Holli Salazar earns Female Athlete of the Year

Tiger earns award for 2nd consecutive year

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Salazar's honors

- All-Western Slope League volleyball

- All-Western Slope League basketball

- All-state basketball

- All-tournament team at state basketball tournament

- Led basketball team in points, rebounds and steals

- Helped basketball team to first state tournament appearance

- All-Western Slope League track

- Third in shot put at state track meet

- Third in discus at state track meet

- Track scholarship to Colorado State University-Pueblo

— Hayden High School standout Holli Salazar's time at the school seemingly ended with a thud.

She was upset in the shot put competition at the state track meet earlier this month, finishing third after entering as a huge favorite. She seemingly had been destined to string together back-to-back state championships in the event and cap a 12-month sporting year that few high school athletes even dream about.

Turns out, that was only a bump in what was an otherwise great year.

Salazar may have come up short in the shot, but her sterling season did earn her back-to-back honors elsewhere.

Thanks to her efforts in leading a resurgent Hayden volleyball program and a trailblazing basketball team and to her strong track and field season, Salazar, for the second consecutive year, is the Routt County Female Athlete of the Year.

"I had so much fun my senior year," she said. "I couldn't ask for more."

Salazar's amazing run started at last year's state track meet. She destroyed her competition in the shot put, surging past their marks to easily win the event and the state championship.

It didn't seem as though she was on track for such strong seasons in team sports, however. Hayden's basketball and volleyball programs each picked up new coaches for the 2008-09 season.

That didn't slow Salazar or her strong senior class.

The group fought to a 16-6 record during volleyball after a frustrating fall in 2007. Salazar helped lead the way under first-year coach Greg Johnson, finishing with a team-best 186 kills. She also led the squad with aces and was second in blocks.

She was even better in basketball.

Salazar averaged nearly twice as many points as anyone else on the team, scoring 17.8 points per game during the regular season. She led the team with 9.3 rebounds per game and 65 steals on the season and was second in blocks and in 3-point field goals.

Tigers basketball, under first-year coach Eric Hamilton, lost just once during the regular season. They earned the program's first bid to the state tournament with a 57-42 victory against Limon in the championship game of the regional tournament.

Salazar scored 12 points to help the team beat Meeker, 42-40, to claim third place at the state tournament.

"Success," Salazar said, summing up the season in one word. "That whole year was a success. It was just so awesome. We're putting two banners on our wall. No one had gone to state before, and it's just an awesome feeling."

Salazar's great roll carried into the track season, as well.

She hurled the shot past even her state-winning mark at her first meet of the season, capping an astonishing streak in which she extended her personal best in four consecutive track meets.

She didn't lose her signature event all season until the state meet, where she placed third.

Even that weekend had a happy ending, however. A day after the upset in the shot, Salazar placed third in the discus. She entered the event hoping just to finish in the top nine and medal but set her personal best for a dramatically higher finish.

"I wasn't even going to do disc at the start of the season, but my coaches and parents talked me into it," Salazar said.

Salazar's reign in Routt County is over, but her sports career may just be getting started. She will attend Colorado State University-Pueblo next fall to throw for the track team.

"I'm excited," she said. "It's a great opportunity, especially coming from Hayden. Not many girls from here get to go to college for a sport. It will be a lot of fun and a great experience."

Contenders

Salazar's all-around excellence set her apart, but she wasn't alone in having a great year. Her close friend and long-time sports rival Sarajane Rossi, of Soroco High School, earned all-league honors in volleyball, basketball and track.

Steamboat Springs High School's Hanna Berglund was dominant in goal for the soccer team. She earned all-league honors in soccer and all-state recognition in skiing. Steamboat's Colleen King was the league player of the year in volleyball and all-league for the girls basketball team. Sailors Kylee Swiggart and Sara Bearss, meanwhile, won the Class 4A No. 1 doubles state tennis championship.

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