Hayden’s Erin Koehler and Steamboat’s Lance Ostrom had dominating senior seasons and were selected as Routt County athletes of the year.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Hayden’s Erin Koehler and Steamboat’s Lance Ostrom had dominating senior seasons and were selected as Routt County athletes of the year.

Erin Koehler named Steamboat Pilot & Today's Athlete of the Year

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Past Routt County athletes of the year

Past female winners

■ 2011: Aubree Haskins, Hayden High School

■ 2010: Colleen King, Steamboat Springs High School

■ 2009: Holli Salazar, Hayden

■ 2008: Holli Salazar, Hayden

Past male winners

■ 2011: Treyben Letlow, Hayden High School

■ 2010: Alex Estes, Soroco High School

■ 2009: Alex Wood, Steamboat Springs High School

■ 2008: Ramsey Bernard, Steamboat

— It’s all in the numbers, and the numbers all came from last summer.

A year ago, Hayden High School’s Erin Koehler made the decisions that revolutionized her basketball game, that made her tremendous senior season possible and paved the way for her scholarship to play with Colorado School of Mines in Golden.

That’s when she sought out help, when she dedicated herself to becoming a stronger, more all-around player. That’s when she began a summer of intensive gym workouts and when she laid out the blueprint for her next nine months.

That’s when she did what she had to do to emerge as the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s Routt County Female Athlete of the Year.

Koehler starred in two sports for the Tigers, playing a big role in the fall on the team’s volleyball squad. There, she always was a major presence thanks to her natural gift of height. At 6 feet, she played a major role on every team after her freshman season.

She made the decision to focus on basketball last summer, though, and she tracked down then-Hayden coach Eric Hamilton for some extra help.

Koehler hadn’t struggled in preceding years. She’d been a fixture on both the basketball and volleyball teams. Her senior year was something else, though.

The strength and skills she added last summer with Hamilton’s help combined with the narrowed focus to make a huge difference. When she was plugged into first-year coach Michelle Wilkie’s offense, it all exploded in a series of jaw-dropping point bonanzas.

She opened the basketball season with a whopping 35-point performance against Cedaredge, had 36 soon after against Vail Christian and 26 against North Park. That was all before Christmas, and it was just a sign of things to come.

Asked about the surge, she was humble, pointing to her veteran teammates.

“My team is just getting me the ball,” she said at the time.

She certainly had some help. Seniors Aubree Haskins and Brette Frentress played big roles, and classmate Kelsey Rolando came on for a huge senior season, knocking down 3-point shots to help open up the lane.

Koehler’s increased strength was obvious, however. Prone to being pushed around as a younger player, she was able to do the pushing in her senior season. Teams tried hard to shut her down, but few were able to realize much success, especially in half-court sets.

In the end, she averaged 21.3 points per game and 8.9 rebounds. That was enough to earn her most valuable player honors from the Western Slope League.

“I wanted to prove to a lot of people and to myself that the work I had put in would pay off,” Koehler said midway through the season. “I knew the work I needed to put in to get where I needed to be.”

No doubt, that work paid off.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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