Steamboat Pilot & Today Male Routt County Athletes of the Year:
2008: Ramsey Bernard, Steamboat Springs High School
2009: Alex Wood, Steamboat Springs High School
2010: Alex Estes, Soroco High School
Steamboat Springs Alex Estes said he doesn’t get caught up wondering “what if,” though plenty of questions could begin with that phrase.
What if the recently graduated Soroco High School senior hadn’t suffered an ankle injury before his junior football season?
That injury kept him off the football field and slowed him in the basketball and track seasons.
What if things had worked out just a little differently years ago, and the Soroco football program had been able to play in the postseason in either of Estes’ last two years at the school?
A quirky rule kept them from even a chance at a state championship in 2008 and 2009.
What if injuries hadn’t depleted his senior year basketball team?
“That stuff just happens,” he said, refusing to consider all the “might have beens” of his high school career.
Maybe there would have been more celebrating, more wins and more runs to and through the state tournament. Maybe a team state championship in football or more glory at the state track meet.
Maybe so, but Estes managed to do just fine even in a hurdle-strewn career at Soroco. He capped it all off with a magnificent senior season, helping guide the Rams to their best football season in decades, a gritty basketball campaign that was the most successful in his tenure and a dominating season performance in track and field.
For his Class 2A long jump state championship and for all the spectacular plays that preceded it, Estes is the Steamboat Pilot & Today 2010 Male Routt County Athlete of the Year.
Leading the herd
It wasn’t the easiest path for Estes, but his talents and those of a talented senior class all truly meshed together for the first time in the fall during football season.
He was the running back and a frequent receiver on the most explosive team the Rams have fielded and helped guide them to an undefeated 7-0 record heading into the final game of the season.
The Rams lost that game, falling, 40-20, to Norwood, but their season was over regardless. It was the school’s second year playing 8-man football, and a Colorado High School Activities Association rule prevented the team from advancing to the postseason.
That didn’t dampen the team’s spirit. Estes helped lead the charge, compiling stats reminiscent of a video game throughout the season. He scored 21 touchdowns receiving, rushing and returning kickoffs and punts, often partnering with classmate, best friend and quarterback Cody Miles to baffle defenses.
“We had a lot of speedy guys, and we were always passing and running to the outside,” Estes said. “Sometimes, I’d line up and the defensive back on me would say, ‘You guys always pass it.’
“We could just run teams into the ground.”
In basketball, what was to be a strong team turned into at times a one-man show when a football injury slowed fellow senior Matt Watwood and a broken hand temporarily sidelined Miles.
Estes rose to the occasion, bombing in shots from all across the court and cutting through the lane to help the Rams finish in the top half of their district. They won their first playoff game, earning a ticket to the regional tournament for the first time in years.
It was always in track and field that Estes really shined, and he proved as much again on the first day of the most recent Class 2A state track meet in Lakewood.
Third in the long jump as a sophomore and second as a junior, he was on a quest to win the championship in his last opportunity.
He made sure it wasn’t close. He took the lead with his second jump of the six-jump competition and never looked back, easily winning his first state title.
A day later, he finished second in the triple jump, capping his last competition as a Ram.
“After I knew I won the long jump, Cody was out there on the field. Then just celebrating with him and later with my team, that was one of my favorite memories,” Estes said.
It’s that excitement that Estes is considering chasing as he moves on from high school.
He’s spending his summer working on a ranch in South Routt County and still is mulling college options. At one point, he was set on attending Colorado State University and walking on to its NCAA Division 1 track and field team, but recent interest from Division 2 school Adams State College in Alamosa has him rethinking his plans.
“I don’t think I’m quite done competing yet,” he said. “It’d be nice to just go to college and be a student and not have any pressure, but I’d get bored with it.
“I love jumping. I don’t like the running part of track and field, but I love jumping.”
Soroco has enjoyed an athletic renaissance in recent years. The football team is at home in 8-man and coming off a 7-1 season. The basketball team won a district game for the first time in years, and the boys track team was in the lead after the first day of the state track meet and finished in seventh place.
Estes spent his time in school, and especially his senior year, square in the middle of that turnaround.