Photo by Joel Reichenberger
Steamboat Springs High School's Ben Wharton evades a Battle Mountain defender earlier this season. With lacrosse going to two classifications, Steamboat will be considered a favorite for a state title in Class 4A next season.
2012 Sailors boys lacrosse schedule
- March 9: Steamboat 13, Telluride 1
- March 13: Rock Canyon 10, Steamboat 9
- March 16: Steamboat 19, Durango 1
- March 17: Steamboat 18, Glenwood Springs 1
- March 23: Steamboat 9, Air Academy 8
- March 24: Steamboat 18, Eagle Valley 2
- March 27: Steamboat 13, Summit 1
- March 30: Steamboat 9, Grand Junction 4
- March 31: Steamboat 12, Fruita Monument 4
- April 2: Steamboat 13, Thompson Valley 1
- April 6: Steamboat 8, Battle Mountain 5
- April 7: Steamboat 14, Grandview 9
- April 12: Steamboat 16, Aspen 3
- April 14: Steamboat 12, Valor Christian 4
- April 30: Steamboat 8, Golden 5
- May 5: Steamboat 9, Denver East 4
- May 9: Kent Denver 17, Steamboat 3
Steamboat Springs No one will deny that the 2012 Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse season was a striking success. A berth in the state tournament accompanied the team’s fourth consecutive conference championship.
But anyone who watched the Sailors’ second-round playoff game against Kent Denver — a 17-3 loss — came away knowing how far Steamboat was from competing with the state’s very best.
Things, however, are about to change.
This year marks the last of a single classification for lacrosse. With the sport rapidly growing, the Colorado High School Activities Association decided in January 2011 to make two classifications — Class 4A and Class 5A.
Starting next season, schools with 1,410 students or fewer will play in Class 4A. Traditional small powerhouses like Kent Denver and Colorado Academy can petition to play Class 5A.
The change is monumental for smaller schools, especially Steamboat Springs High School.
“No question about it,” Steamboat coach Bob Hiester said. “The two-division thing will help us. Instead of playing Kent Denver in that round (of the state playoffs), we’re playing someone else.”
Colorado lacrosse features a handful of powerhouses that generally dominate year-in and year-out.
“They were fast and good,” Steamboat junior Penn Lukens said about Kent Denver. “You knew they had a lot of time together with a lacrosse stick. It opened our eyes to what the highest-level lacrosse teams look like.”
The switch to two classifications, however, should have those associated with lacrosse in Steamboat excited. Based on this year’s teams and school enrollments, only five teams — Evergreen, Air Academy, Steamboat, Cheyenne Mountain and Wheat Ridge — that will be Class 4A next year made the 24-team state championship bracket this season.
Of that group, Air Academy, Steamboat and Wheat Ridge made it to the second round.
Steamboat beat Air Academy during the regular season.
Knowing the changes afoot, winning a state title “has definitely come up,” Sailors junior Christian Ramirez said. “We’ve got that idea in our head. We’ve all got the same goal of winning state. We definitely got that goal in our head.”
Steamboat still will play in the Mountain Conference, and Hiester said the team still will try to schedule as many large Class 5A Front Range teams as possible.
But whereas the goal in the past was to get to the playoffs and win a game there, that’s about to change.
Steamboat, it appears, no longer will be the little mountain town with a good lacrosse team. Instead, the Sailors will have a real chance next season to win a state title and become a dominant force in Class 4A.
“Our goal is to win the state championship,” Lukens said. “That’s the goal. We want to show the rest of the state we’re not just a small ski town. We’re also a pretty good lacrosse town, too.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com