Joel Reichenberger: 2011-12 low on hardware |

Joel Reichenberger: 2011-12 low on hardware

The last bits of the 2011-12 high school athletics year drained away on a drizzly Saturday in Lakewood, a day when a $1 poncho was worth its weight in gold.

From my perfectly dry eagle's nest of the JeffCo Stadium press box, my mind drifted back over the entire year in high school sports.

In so many ways, this hasn't been the greatest of years for our three Routt County high schools. Start at the end: Hayden and Soroco high schools finished the state meet without a state champion, or even a top-three finish. That's a first in my five years covering the meet.

I tend to be an eternal optimist when it comes to covering local athletes. I assume they'll at least hit their previous personal best in events and often that they'll do a bit better. I never assumed anyone was going win a state championship, but I've been rewarded with plenty of random acts of excellence. This year, random didn't ever seem to come in favor of any Hayden or Soroco competitors.

Injuries and the entirely real but unknown to science "bad day" seemed to wrap up some of the best chances for one of those elite finishes.

The story was the same a week ago at state tennis in Pueblo. Steamboat's girls tennis team seemed as deep or deeper than it ever has, but it couldn't measure up to the success found in previous seasons. It was almost a mirror image of the struggles the boys program faced in the fall.

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The Steamboat boys lacrosse team picked up an awesome playoff victory, but beyond that, there weren't a ton of signature wins for any local program.

There were plenty of great local basketball moments in the regular season, but no team could piece it together after that, all falling short of optimistic goals. The volleyball teams fell at regionals; the football teams that made the postseason met lopsided ends.

Chad Terry wrestled a series of amazing matches to make the state finals in February but ended up on the wrong end of a jaw-dropping match in the finals.

So, what? It was a crummy year?

No, it certainly wasn't a crummy year.

It's important not to judge this year based on its lack of signature wins, of huge-headline stories. The past year's been as rich with great storylines as any other, and as always, I loved helping tell them.

The sports staff here will spend the next weeks sorting out just what and who stood out the most, and we'll serve those findings up in a special set of stories in a Sunday paper soon.

If you have any advice, any favorite moments, don't hesitate to jog our memories. This past year hasn't been one for hardware, but there certainly have been highlights.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email

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