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 I love year-end lists. They help us remember what a short 365 days it actually has been. While everyone takes their place on the couch for Monday’s full slate of New Year’s Day-after bowl games — the power of the NFL, my friends — here is a look back at the top 10 Routt County sports stories from 2011:
■ Hayden football drops to 8-man. After a long and successful run in Class 1A, the Tigers will compete in the 8-man classification next season. I’m know there are mixed feelings about this in Hayden, but it will renew the cross-county football rivalry with Soroco.
■ Steamboat boys lacrosse goes 30 for 30. The Sailors have played three years of Mountain Conference lacrosse and haven’t lost once. The domination of the conference is a nod to the success of lacrosse in the community.
■ Steamboat boys soccer wins playoff game. The Sailors beat D’Evelyn, 1-0, in late October, marking the first time the team had won a playoff game since 2003.
■ Aubree Haskins wins shot put state title. Haskins kept the line of successful Hayden throwers in tact. As just a junior, Haskins surprised the field and won the Class 2A title. She’ll look to repeat come spring.
■ Rise of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club snowboarding program. The program saw a ton of success in 2011. Multiple members who started as very young athletes with the club saw success last year on some of the biggest stages. This year could see halfpipe snowboarders Maddy Schaffrick and Matt Ladley become national stars.
■ Steamboat football team goes winless for second straight year. The Sailors, after finishing runner-up in Class 3A two years ago, suffered their 21st straight loss this year. It’s been a hard go with younger players forced into action. Hopefully 2012 brings a victory.
■ Chris Zirkle dominates distance running. Zirkle was just about as impressive as it gets at the Class 2A state meet. The Hayden runner won the mile and the 2-mile to close out his career.
■ Alex Estes named an All-American. The former Soroco Rams star made the most of his freshman year at Adams State College. Estes finished third in the Division II Indoor National Championships, earning All-American status. He also won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference meet, the first freshman to do so since the 2001-02 season.
■ USA Pro Cycling Challenge rolled through town. The cycling event was a huge get for cities across Colorado. The finish into Steamboat was amazing, and the scene the following day with riders ascending Rabbit Ears Pass was equally phenomenal. Unfortunately, the event won’t be coming through Steamboat in 2012.
■ Treyben Letlow wraps up a career for the ages. Letlow was dominant in just about every fashion possible. The former Hayden star was a terror on the football field, but he did his best work on the wrestling mat. After wrapping up 2010 with a state title at 215 pounds, Letlow crushed his competition in 2011. He won his second straight state title — not to mention 71 consecutive matches.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com