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Luke Graham

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Luke Graham: University of Colorado has a decision to make

The problems that plagued football coaches Jon Embree, Dan Hawkins and Gary Barnett are still present at the University of Colorado.

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Luke Graham: Battle Mountain's run to state title a win for Western Slope

Steamboat's longtime rival on the soccer pitch is on the cusp of something rare in the state of Colorado. Soccer on the Western Slope has been defined by the two mountain schools. Steamboat and Battle Mountain have waged classic battles for years.

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Luke Graham: How 'Appetite For Destruction' changed my life

The year 1994 changed my life. One sweet summer day, I heard Guns N’ Roses' "Appetite For Destruction" for the first time. That moment changed the musical landscape for me.

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Luke Graham: It could be worse

There is good news and bad news.  The good is that swimming has become a regular exercise for me, and it become easier every time I hit the pool.

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Luke Graham: The open water series is coming

What started as a late night conversation now is a reality. And at first I wasn’t sure what I had got myself into. But now, I believe I’m ready. The Bald Eagle Lake Open Water Series begins July 2. It continues every Monday after in July. I will be doing each one.

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Luke Graham: Here’s to you, Seattle

I’m not exactly sure why my friend grew up a Seattle fan. But he loved the Supersonics. He had an obsession with Gary Payton and wore that god awful green and yellow No. 20 jersey. But when the Thunder made the finals, he was inconsolable.

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Luke Graham: Memories of Class of 2012

This time of year reminds me most about playing sports in high school. There will be a lot of advice this week and in the coming weeks about being leaders, changing the world and making the Class of 2012 a special one.

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Luke Graham: Can baseball be viable in Colorado?

The old Generation-R slogan the Colorado Rockies had prior to the 2005 season was always good for the bank account but never for the soul. 

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Luke Graham: Skiing makes you smart

Mid-day Friday, sitting down with Emily Hannah and Mary O’Connell, I felt like I should have brought my résumé. They eventually could be my boss. It’s not as far-fetched as people might think.

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Luke Graham: A new goal is set for Steamboat Springs boys lacrosse

It’s almost unbelievable to talk about next year’s high school lacrosse season when the best one Steamboat Springs High School has seen just ended.

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Luke Graham: Good to you have you back, baseball

By the time I looked down at my cellphone on Saturday and saw Dave Roy’s number, it confirmed things. Baseball in Steamboat still matters.

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Luke Graham: The tiered system should be scrapped

Lacrosse is probably the most popular non-winter sport there is in town. The 75 players that are out for it this season are the most of any sport at the high school. It’s also a Tier 2 sport.

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Luke Graham: No expectations means Rockies might do well

Baseball is a constant grind. It’s 162 games, hopefully more. It’s springtime revival, summer bliss and, if you’re lucky, fall fun. But the Colorado Rockies has started to take that away.

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Luke Graham: Worsley’s amazing triumph

Winter Olympians dot this town’s history. From Billy Kidd to Johnny Spillane and Todd Lodwick, Steamboat’s Winter Olympic history is well documented. Blake Worsley’s work in the pool, however, rivals that.

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Luke Graham: Manning in Orange?

It’s a horrible feeling getting attached to sports stars. Kids grow up now and attach to a player, but how long will that player be there? How many young children are running around Colorado with Tim Tebow jerseys right now?

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Luke Graham: Losing to 3rd-grade students

Isn’t it great when college basketball matters again in this great state? It’s been awhile since a major Division I sports program mattered in this state.

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Luke Graham: Just wait for spring sports to start

Whatever people may or may not have done, the snow is finally here. But here’s another way to get snow to come. Just wait for spring sports to start.

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Luke Graham: Wilkie is having a good 1st year

Michelle Wilkie took over the Tigers this season. I didn’t know what to expect. I honestly didn’t think Hayden would be that good. Wilkie used the District 5 tournament to disprove that.

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Luke Graham: Challenge accepted

Last week, I called out the student sections at all three Routt County schools. I challenged them to make their respective gyms hell to play in, not the borefests they seemingly had become.

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Luke Graham: No home advantage for Routt County teams

Bluntly put, the student bodies at all three schools leave a tremendous amount to be desired as fans. This, for whatever reason, has become common-place in Routt County.

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Luke Graham: Steamboat hockey starting to play well

It very well could come down to mid-February to decide the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team’s playoff fate. The team sits just one spot out of the last playoff position.

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Luke Graham: It’s good to have you back in my life, NBA

Before this year, I much preferred the college game to the pros. But something interesting has happened with the NBA and me this year.

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Luke Graham: Kearney becoming the best in the world

In 1986 at the inaugural NBA 3-point shooting contest, Larry Bird knew who was going to win. He turned to his competitors and asked “who’s coming in second place today?” Hannah Kearney could do the same right now if she wanted.

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Luke Graham: Nordic delight thanks to shovels

If you were among the 300-plus Nordic athletes who took part in Friday and Saturday’s University of Colorado Spencer Nelson Memorial Nordic race, you owe thanks.

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Luke Graham: Steamboat basketball gets back to form

Somehow, the Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball team looked legit Friday against defending Western Slope League champion Glenwood Springs.

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Luke Graham: Top 10 of 2011

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.

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Luke Graham: Schaffrick living up to hype

Sports vernacular is full of weightless words. It’s also full of unfair monikers like “The Next Big Thing.” But that’s what happens in sports now. Athletes in just about every sport are picked out at a young age and deemed stars, most before they even hit their teenage years.

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Luke Graham: The NHL needs to ban fights

For the first time in my life, seeing a hockey fight on television the other night left an empty, empty feeling in my stomach.

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Luke Graham: Welcome back prep sports

It’s been awhile. Fall high school sports teams went through their struggles. The season ended quick, and the teams’ struggles almost made it a year without any postseason games.

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Luke Graham: Alpine team’s skiing lore

It was a good sight seeing Anna Marno walk around Howelsen Hill on Tuesday evening. The crutches were gone, the limp was gone, and Marno looked healthy and ready for the ski season.

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Luke Graham: Colorado basketball will win before football

While most of Colorado is caught up in Tim Tebow’s greatness, this week signified another great portion of American sports: College basketball has begun.

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Luke Graham: Truly great teams are rare

When you attend and cover enough athletic events, there is a sort of rhythm learned. And in Steamboat, maybe more so than other Class 4A schools, when a class or team makes the playoffs and advances, it truly is a unique thing.

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Luke Graham: Rising programs

Looking at athletes in the Winter Sports Club’s freestyle moguls and snowboarding programs, there are a few athletes that could represent the town in two years at the Winter Olympics.

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Luke Graham: Steamboat soccer's win big for community

It didn’t take long to understand what Thursday’s first-round playoff win meant for the Steamboat Springs High School boys soccer team. Steamboat, after near misses in the postseason year after year, finally won a playoff game.

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Luke Graham: Colorado football program to believe in

College football in Colorado has been tough to watch. But don’t fret. Colorado State University-Pueblo is 8-0, on top of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and ranked No. 8 in Division II.

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Luke Graham: NBA will have a season

In full disclosure, I don’t care much for the NBA. I think I may have watched five games all of last year. Despite what my feelings are about the NBA, it doesn’t cloud what eventually could happen.

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Luke Graham: Downhill biking picks up in Steamboat

Liana Gregory has been to the downhill mountain bike mecca of Whistler. But when she thinks of mountains and downhill mountain biking going together, one mountain sticks out. “Steamboat is the perfect mountain,” she said. But is it?

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Luke Graham: What went wrong with Colorado Rockies

It’s clear as a baseball fan that I over thought just about every prediction I made earlier this year. The Colorado Rockies aren’t winning the National League West. In fact, the team has been one of the biggest disappointments in Colorado sports history.

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Luke Graham: CMC's dreamer

Thursday wasn’t a day to remind anyone of skiing. The drizzle of rain and gobs and gobs of mud building up at Howelsen Hill made it seem more like the Pacific Northwest. But under an umbrella, with a thick white mustache, glasses and a huge grin, CMC Alpine coach Terry Leonard was dreaming big.

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Luke Graham: A game to help us move on

It’s hard to think that Sunday marked the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Each person can recount where he or she was that day, what it meant and the emotions associated with it. Even then, I was a sports nut. It was the one thing I understood better than most. But sports certainly took a backseat at that moment.

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Luke Graham: The curse of Paul Posluszny

It’s that time of year where I tell you the Buffalo Bills again won’t make the playoffs. For the record, the last time my team made the playoffs, I had just gotten my driver’s license and the Music City Miracle/forward lateral took place.

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Luke Graham: Future of the Pro Cycling Challenge

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge didn’t seem like a big deal a year ago. At the time of its announcement by Gov. Bill Ritter and cycling icon Lance Armstrong, it was probably hard for a lot of non-hardcore fans to get excited.

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Luke Graham: A big day for Steamboat

We know how Stage 4 into downtown Steamboat Springs turned out. Or perhaps more important, how many people turned out. The streets were packed and downtown was loud. Really loud. But it didn’t compare to Friday.

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Luke Graham: The future of NCAA football

It has had to be harder for the University of Miami to stomach. Opposed to Ohio State University or the University of Southern California, Miami’s latest transgressions seem more critical to the fabric of the NCAA.

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Luke Graham: Cycling Challenge quite the coup

These types of races are something towns always will welcome. They draw people in from outside the area. They help local businesses. But with races like this, the long-term benefits are what communities are after.

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Luke Graham: What went wrong with the Rockies

Prior to the start of the baseball season, the Colorado Rockies were a plush pick to win the National League West Division. If nothing else, the team would compete for the wild card. As it stands now, the team is closer to enjoying fall on the couch than anything resembling baseball.

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Luke Graham: An NFL hoax?

The NFL lockout coming to an end is a good thing. America’s favorite sport will again be played Sundays in the fall and the big kingpin known as professional football will be all you hear about for the next several months. But how will that be any different?

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Luke Graham: Are endurance races here to stay?

Spending 30 minutes on the phone with Dave Wiens serves as a 400-level course in mountain biking. Wiens — known as the man that made Lance Armstrong quit, a mountain biking legend and an everyday family guy — talked at length Friday about the growth in popularity of endurance races.

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Luke Graham: Feeding the soccer program

It’s pretty clear why year in and year out the high school soccer program is a mark of consistency and regarded as one of the elite programs on the Western Slope. This weekend just pounded that point home. The 27th annual Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament brought in 110 teams and 3,000 players from all across the region.

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Luke Graham: Best story you’re not following

As the baseball season hits the All-Star break, no one is paying attention to the best story in a barren sports landscape. The NFL and NBA labor strifes? Please. College football being dirty? Surprise! Golf? Call when Tiger comes back. No the best story going right now happens to take place in Pittsburgh.

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Luke Graham: Different vibes

Of all the good sights in and around Steamboat Springs this holiday weekend, maybe none was better than Johnny Spillane on Thursday running around Howelsen Hill playing soccer with his U.S. Nordic combined teammates. Spillane had the old look about him.

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Luke Graham: Never complain again, Boston

Enjoy your good luck while it lasts

I congratulate you, Boston fan. You just went through the greatest decade of fandom in the history of sports. No town has an equal claim. Twelve states feature teams from four major-league sports. None has done what you just accomplished. I hope you know how good it is.

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Luke Graham: Hayden’s banner year of athletes

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. When looking through this year, it’s hard to imagine another crop of athletes dominating quite like Hayden High School’s did.

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Luke Graham: Where Shaq places

Moments in sports make people feel old. That happened last week when Shaquille O’Neal retired. I can remember O’Neal playing at Louisiana State University. I can also say with conviction that O’Neal was the most dominant player I’ve ever seen. The best and the most dominant are two different things.

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Luke Graham: Vandahl stays the same

Two weeks ago seemed like four years ago. Walking into the Steamboat Springs High School gym, there stood 2008 graduate Michael Vandahl, basketball in his hands, shooting jumpers from anywhere and everywhere. Vandahl always was one of my favorite local athletes, and he’s the best basketball player Routt County has seen in the past six years.

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Luke Graham: Lance’s positive effects

Things aren’t looking good for Lance Armstrong. For years, there have been accusations that he doped en route to winning seven Tour de France titles. But should any of this matter? I say, “no.” No matter how this ends, we should all remember him as the man who has done so much for cancer research.

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Luke Graham: Sailor learns lessons the hard way

Steamboat Springs High School senior Alan Capistron is the best baseball player to come out of Steamboat in some time. He entered his senior season prepped for a huge year. But on a Saturday in late March, Capistron went from a high to a low. While playing first base in the second game of that day’s doubleheader, he heard his hamstring pop.

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Luke Graham: NBA and scheduling dilemma

I watched my first full NBA game of the year a couple weeks ago. It was Game 1 of the New York-Boston series. I was surprised what I saw. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sure it’s the playoffs and the games are better, but I found myself actually thinking I could get into the NBA.

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Luke Graham: The power of a game

Steamboat's lacrosse cover boys keep the spirit of the sport

Yes, Andy and Jake Flax have been the cover boys for Steamboat Springs lacrosse. The two picked up the game in 2002 at a camp and to date, they’re the most successful and intriguing stories from Steamboat lacrosse.

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Luke Graham: Lost man in Barry Bonds trial

I’m not sure anyone has paid attention at this point, but yes, Barry Bonds was on trial for lying to a grand jury. It essentially broke down to this: Prosecutors said he knowingly used and abused steroids in his career, and he testified he didn’t get injected by anyone but a doctor and never knowingly took steroids. Regardless, Barry Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame.

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Luke Graham: Successful season

At this point, it’s hard to understand. The just-ended, 2010-11 ski season was my first full season back on skis since the Buffalo Bills mattered. I didn’t have a number to reach, but with Sunday’s Closing Day, I logged day No. 39 on skis.

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Luke Graham: Still room to grow 

Lacrosse in the West has been a fluid situation. There’s no question the sport has grown rapidly during the past 20 years in the mountains and in California. The rankings show the power of lacrosse in the West, and Steamboat gives a great little sample. It’s tough to cruise across town and not see at least one group of young people carrying lacrosse sticks and a ball.

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Luke Graham: Baseball on the upswing

Can baseball be making a comeback? Football is the alpha male, no questions asked. All you have to do is turn on the television and get NFL lockout talk shoved in your face. This might be the opportunity baseball needs. Here are a few lockout thoughts.

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Luke Graham: Smarter than a 3rd-grader

The only bracket I intended to fill out was an NIT bracket. For the record, I have a final of Colorado and Oklahoma State. But then I remembered the challenge I issued one year ago to Rebecca Nicholson’s third-grade class.

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Luke Graham: 3-sport athletes learn values

In the eyes of many, 2010 Soroco High School graduate Alex Estes’ accomplishments at the 2011 Division II Indoor National Championships probably speak most to his tremendous athletic ability. The results, a third-place finish in the long jump, showed what Estes could do with a little collegiate coaching.

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Luke Graham: It's going to be shorts season soon

Local prep sports teams prepare for warmer weather

It’s hard to imagine that it’s already spring sports season. The winter season seems like it just began. But, alas, spring sports practices officially started a week ago. The Steamboat Springs High School girls tennis team already has played a match.

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Luke Graham: Steamboat baseball will make playoffs

Baseball breeds eternal optimism. That’s what makes baseball season the most wonderful time of the year. In Steamboat Springs, baseball usually is relegated to gymnasiums and middle-of-the-pack finishes. Here’s saying for the first time in a long time, the Steamboat Springs High School baseball team will make an appearance in the state playoffs.

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Luke Graham: Luppes leading Tigers

When Hayden High School boys basketball coach Mike Luppes took the job, it didn’t seem like a big deal. Boys basketball in Hayden wasn’t a big deal. The Tigers usually finished in the middle of the pack and “postseason” wasn’t a word often used. However, the Tigers have been the biggest surprise of the winter season so far.

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Luke Graham: Crucial change for prep lacrosse rules

An honest assessment: Team state championships in Steamboat Springs are a dying breed. That may not be what people want to hear, but ever since Steamboat Springs High School entered Class 4A, the Sailors have been at a disadvantage.

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Luke Graham: Mendoza-Forsyth is taking the next step

The player that Steamboat Springs High School boys basketball coach Kelly Meek gushed about just four years ago seems to be the player everybody is starting to see. The difference is the confidence he has found in recent games, including a big three-pointer in a win against Moffat County.

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Luke Graham: From small time to big league

One of the great things about watching high school hockey is seeing Ben Wharton on the forecheck at full speed delivering — or taking — a hit. It’s not that Wharton’s overly physical or that his hits rattle the arena. Understand that Wharton is 5-feet-7-inches, weighs all of 148 pounds and is a freshman playing among juniors and seniors.

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Luke Graham: Rebound for Hayden basketball

Friday’s Hayden boys and girls games against West Grand were two of the most well-attended high school games, outside of football playoffs, that have taken place in Hayden in the past five years. I haven’t had to park that far away from the school, maybe, ever. How did this happen? It’s pretty simple. When teams win, people care.

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Luke Graham: Hockey poised for playoff run

At this point in the season, it’s relatively thick-minded to predict what might happen in late February. But there are many reasons to think about what could happen for the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team. Steamboat steps out of its first post-holiday week at 7-1, tied atop the Foothills Conference.

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Luke Graham: Dreams can be realized

Tara King, a three-time Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference selection at Mesa State College, 2009 Setter of the Year and 2006 Steamboat Springs High School graduate, is preparing to head overseas to try to impress foreign scouts and coaches. If she does that, King could end up with a professional contract to play volleyball.

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Luke Graham: Freestyle program becoming best around

It’s easy to look down at the base of Howelsen Hill every day and see the buzz of athletes roaming around. On a typical Howelsen day, it’s mass commotion of athletes — some just able to walk and some on snow since they could walk.

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Luke Graham: Lessons from the Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out

As each year passes, it’s increasingly easy to guess the bracket of the Steamboat Springs Shoot-Out basketball tournament. In its 12th year, the tournament usually draws most of the same teams from the year before. That’s not by accident.

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Luke Graham: Football and fairness

We’ve all heard some form of the phrase: There isn’t much in life that’s fair. In some regards, that’s true. But one of the best things about sports is that they eliminate most of life’s unfairness. Those who put in work, develop chemistry, get some breaks and come together at the right time usually prosper.

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Luke Graham: Connor Landusky takes a sideline view

His head down, Connor Landusky talks for the thousandth time about recovering from a total decimation of his left knee. Mostly, Landusky describes how watching games from the sideline doesn’t — and probably won’t — get any easier.

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Luke Graham: 5 things to watch this winter

Let’s all admit it. The fall season was rough. On the plus side, the Hay­den High School football team advanced to the second round of the Class 1A playoffs, and several members of the Steamboat Springs High School tennis team had solid showings at state.

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Luke Graham: Fletcher primed for a big year

There is no shortage of reasons to root for Bryan Fletcher. He’s a local Nordic combined skier who has beaten cancer, is on the cusp of earning staying power on the World Cup A circuit and, most of all, Fletcher seems like a guy who gets it.

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Luke Graham: What to learn from losing

Losing sucks. One of the great things about sports is most times there is a definitive winner and loser. But ask anyone who has played sports, and losing is as much a part of the game as winning. No one in his or her life is undefeated.

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Luke Graham: Guess I'll root for the Giants

The conundrum of my final look at the baseball season: As a Colorado Rockies fan, is it sacrilegious to root for the San Francisco Giants in the World Series? But here’s where the conundrum comes in. I’ve found myself rooting for the Giants in this World Series.

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Luke Graham: Western Slope realities

Now this, from the head-scratching and hair-pulling department. The Steamboat Springs High School soccer team won’t make the Class 4A state playoffs despite finishing with nine wins and in third place overall in the Western Slope League.

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Luke Graham: Making Division II sports a goal

At least in American culture, high school athletes are taught to strive for the Division I scholarship. It’s a great goal to have, but for most, it doesn’t apply. Honestly, knowing your own ability is sometimes a tough thing to decipher.

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Luke Graham: Soroco football tough to beat

It had been multiple years since I’d covered a Soroco High School football game. If memory serves, it was an 11-man game against Eagle Valley’s junior varsity three years ago. But Friday, after three years away, I was able to get down to Soroco to see the team’s 49-12 homecoming win against Gilpin County.

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Luke Graham: The ideal program

High school sports are cyclical. Teams often make several-year runs and playoff appearances, then have to rebuild. Take any program in the area, and it’s almost certain to go through a string of good years, followed by several of rebuilding.

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Luke Graham: There is always next year

My girl is done. After months of my roller-coaster baseball relationship with the Colorado Rockies, it’s time to concede that October will in fact not be Rocktober. It’s been tough. In April, I committed a grand failure in my uneasy relationship with baseball. I cursed the Rockies again.

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Luke Graham: High school golf’s unfair day

The Steamboat Springs High School golf team has played in eight tournaments this season, leading up to Tuesday’s regional tournament. Most of the state has done the same. But essentially, none of those eight tournaments mean anything at this point.

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