Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs Let’s all admit it.
The fall season was rough.
On the plus side, the Hayden High School football team advanced to the second round of the Class 1A playoffs, and several members of the Steamboat Springs High School tennis team had solid showings at state.
But outside of those successes, the fall season saw more losses than wins as teams countywide struggled.
But when one season ends, another begins.
With winter sports practices already under way, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. In some cases, real optimistic.
Here are five things to watch this winter.
The players and coaches won’t broach the subject, but the Sailors have every chance this season to make the deepest playoff run in the team’s history. Most of the roster returns from last year’s team that made the second round of the playoffs. Judging from Saturday’s scrimmage, goals are going to come in bunches. Individually, it might not be the most talented team Steamboat’s assembled. But as a team, it’s not hard to see why a run to the Final Four and a possible state championship game appearance are quietly being mentioned.
Bruggink, Soroco wrestling
The Soroco wrestling program showed signs last year it was rebounding from several down years. That should continue this year, with a revitalization led by junior Lauryn Bruggink. Bruggink finished a win shy of placing at state last year. After another year of maturity, she should be considered a favorite for a potential top-three placing in February at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Treyben Letlow is the best male athlete in Routt County. Tell anyone that, and it would be tough to mount an opposing view. Letlow made more than 16 tackles a game this fall for the football team, and he enters the wrestling season as not just one of the best wrestlers in Class 2A, but in the entire state. As a junior last year, Letlow simply went 36-0 and won the 215-pound bracket at state. Letlow should have every opportunity to win another state title. The biggest question might be, will he ever lose?
At least, it’s becoming one. In the past two seasons, the girls and boys teams have made surprise runs to the state tournament. With several players having graduated from those teams, it should be interesting to see whether either team can keep up the success. Both sides have the athletes to remain competitive.
Soroco girls basketball
We started to see it with the Soroco girls volleyball team. After years of finishing in the basement, the Rams’ maturity earned them the No. 2 seed in the district tournament. It should, then, only be expected that the same continues with the basketball team. Soroco has shown signs the past two years of becoming a good basketball team. This year, the third under coach David Bruner, should be the best.