Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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As each school year passes, there is a little sense of relief.
Our selections of Routt County Athletes of the Year signify for us that it’s summer.
Three seasons of preps can wear on a person. Of course, there is also a sense that something great has passed.
Cover high school preps for long enough, and it’s fun to see which school and which class represents an athletic bunch.
There have been several solid classes since I’ve been here.
I think back to Steamboat Springs High School’s 2007 class, which featured names such as Lane Shipley, Tanner Stillwell and Westin Cofer, all making that Steamboat football team memorable. The 2008 Steamboat basketball team with Michael Vandahl, Aaron Calkins and Colby Kostur was the best I’ve seen here.
Last year’s crop of Soroco High School athletes, including Alex Estes and Cody Miles, comes to mind. As do the athletes the Steamboat football team brought out each Friday night in 2010.
But when looking through this year, it’s hard to imagine another crop of athletes dominating quite like Hayden High School’s did.
We tried to balance out our list of year-end achievements. We didn’t want to feature just one school. But that’s not what our list of Athletes of the Year is really about. It’s about dominating in a sport, no matter the school.
Hayden’s athletes this season will go down as some of the best of the past five years.
Three Hayden senior boys could each lay claim to Athlete of the Year. Treyben Letlow — our pick — Graig Medvesk and Chris Zirkle all had banner years. Ben Williams wasn’t far behind, earning co-Player of the Year in baseball for Moffat County.
Medvesk was as fun a player to watch on the basketball court as this area has seen. Zirkle won the mile and two-mile state championships in track. Letlow might go down as one of the most dominant athletes in Routt County’s history.
That’s one of the always interesting things in small-town sports. It seems athletic classes come and go. They fluctuate from school to school. That’s how it works at most small schools. Young children grow up with their friends, doing the same thing.
In Hayden this year, it seems like most spent their endless summer days playing sports.
So even as we get a nice reprieve from prep sports for a couple of months, it’s not without some dejection.
The athletic class at Hayden this year was one of a kind, from game to game and dominant performance after dominant performance.
It will be one class that I’ll miss.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com