Fall Sports Recap Some shining moments

Madison VanBibber swims the 50-yard freestyle earlier this season at the Cortez Recreation Center. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Madison VanBibber swims the 50-yard freestyle earlier this season at the Cortez Recreation Center.

From a win/loss perspective, the 2014 winter sports season was not kind to Montezuma-Cortez High School sports teams.

Each team put together some memorable performances however, and a few individual athletes set themselves apart.

Featuring clutch baskets, record-breaking swims and pin victories, this year’s winter sports featured more than its fair share of exciting moments.

Wrestlers enjoy solid year

Low on numbers, but featuring no shortage of individual skill, the M-CHS wrestling team enjoyed a strong 2013-2014 season.

Led by first-year head coach Shad Bellmire, the team made strong showings at several tournaments and qualified three wrestlers for the Colorado State High School Tournament.

Chief among M-CHS wrestlers who qualified was 170-pound junior Seager Oliver, who, putting together one of the finest individual seasons M-CHS has ever seen, won the 4A State Championship.

“I never thought that being a state champion would feel this good, but it sure does,” said Oliver, who finished the year with a 40-2 record.

With all five wrestlers returning next season and several promising middle school wrestlers waiting in the wings, the future appears bright for the M-CHS program.

“We’ll still have our three state qualifiers next year,” said Bellmire. “We’re going to try to get things rolling in the community. Next year should be a good year.”

Swim team improves

Continuing to improve under second-year head coach Ian MacLaren, the M-CHS girls swim team put together a decent 2013-14 campaign.

Team wins remained elusive for the Panthers however, as the group recorded only one meet win on the season and finished ninth in the West Slope League.

Highlighting the season were the performances of freshman Bailey Duran, sophomore Kayla Hageman and juniors Elana Cope and Madison VanBibber who, together, broke a 19-year-old school record in the 400-yard freestyle relay event.

“Breaking the record was awesome. I was hoping that we could get it, and once we got it, we were all freaking out,” said Duran. “It was hard to believe at first.”

With the majority of the swimmers returning next season, the Panthers will hope to continue breaking records while picking up more wins next season.

Boys basketball inconsistent

In terms of potential, the M-CHS boys basketball team was unmatched.

Struggling to tap into that potential, the Panthers struggled to a 7-15 record.

As difficult as the team’s losses were, the season was not without highlights as Brackin Whiteskunk and junior Randy Haley enjoyed outstanding seasons.

Hoping that next season produces better results, the Panthers will look to several returning players for stability and leadership.

“This season was a stepping stone,” said first-year head coach Dusty DeBoer. “The big focus this offseason is going to be in a lot of gym time.”

Girls basketball rebuilds

Entering the 2013-14 season with a new coach and several inexperienced players, M-CHS girls knew they might be in for a rough year.

And while the Panthers’ 1-18 record was indicative of major struggles, the team’s improvements eased the group’s collective pain.

Highlighting the season was a season-ending performance against Durango High School that saw the Panthers hang tough throughout a 41-33 loss.

“This (season) was a great stepping stone,” said first-year head coach John McHenry. “We call this our to be continued season.”

Look for the Panthers to be much improved next year.