Steamboat Springs Following the Western Slope Open tennis tournament in Grand Junction two weeks ago, Steamboat Springs High School tennis coaches Don Toy and John Aragon challenged their players to take their games to a new level.
The speech, and the Sailors' game, seem to be in a new and profound place right now.
Steamboat went 2-1 during the weekend, picking up 7-0 wins against Alexander Dawson and Greeley West before falling to Boulder, 4-3.
The wins - and even the loss to Boulder - are more impressive with the fact Steamboat played shorthanded all weekend.
Because of the flu bug and some persisting injuries, the Sailors were without their full lineup.
Still, Steamboat came away looking like a team primed to have a good showing at regionals and state.
"It was our best team performance," Aragon said. "As a coaching staff, we're proud of the effort we came through and played with."
Maybe most impressive was the play of No. 1 singles player Jamey Swiggart and No. 2 singles player Keegan Burger.
Against Greeley West, the duo battled a pair of top-notch players. Swiggart's opponent beat him at the Western Slope Open and Burger's won the Grand Junction tournament.
On Saturday, both Sailors swept in straight sets.
"Jamey stepped up and played well," Aragon said. "Keegan, that's the best I've ever seen him play."
Steamboat, 9-1 for the season, now prepares for possibly its biggest challenge of the year. The team plays a 9 a.m. Saturday at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs against Kent Denver - one of the top teams in the state.
Aragon said he hopes to get everyone healthy and see how well his Steamboat team can do against some of the state's best.
"Kent Denver is highly rated in the state right now," he said. "They're probably rated to win the whole thing. Hopefully, we'll be well. We're looking forward to that match. The coaches and players are excited."
Steamboat soccer team comes up big in Palisade
The team didn't do much different, but the scoreboard, finally, didn't read 0-0.
Playing in Palisade on Saturday, the Steamboat Springs High School soccer team picked up an 8-0 win to improve to 3-1-3 overall and 3-0-3 in the Western Slope League.
Finding the back of the net eight times was a welcome sight for the Sailors, who have played to scoreless ties three times this season.
"It doesn't matter who we're playing, it's about us," Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. "We've been very consistent with our play. (Saturday) was just one of those days. It's the same type of possession we've seen for a large portion of our games. It was a good day."
Steamboat got three goals from sophomore Enrique Lopez, two from senior Grant Murray and one each from Andrew White, Johnathon Ricker and Connor Birch.
Birch, the usual goalkeeper, scored the seventh goal of the day for Steamboat, when Bohlmann moved him to a forward position.
Steamboat had the run of play for most of the day and took a 3-0 lead into halftime.
The win helps Steamboat keep pace in the clouded league race.
With a 5:45 p.m. non-league game Tuesday at home against Summit, Steamboat will start getting back into the meaty portion of its schedule.
The team plays league-leading Eagle Valley at 11 a.m. Saturday in Gypsum.
"Every game is key," Bohlmann said. "It's a fun season."