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Sports Year in Review: Grizzly success tops Valley's top sports stories

Posted: Friday, Dec 28th, 2012

The Adams State University track and field team won it's first-ever NCAA Division II team title in May in Pueblo. Be

Courier Sports Editor

SAN LUIS VALLEY—‚2012 was a huge year for Adams State University because they paced the San Luis Valley in sports achievements. Prep sports fell just a little but they did remain in the title spotlight as the Alamosa Mean Moose earned a team championship in the sport of wrestling while Adams State got back on track and won a Cross Country National Title. The championship gold by the three teams extended the San Luis Valley's streak to 30 years with a championship team.

The Valley did almost capture another gold trophy as one team fell just one game shy of perfection.

# 1

Adams State men win NCAA title in May

PUEBLO—The Adams State men's outdoor track and field team won their first ever NCAA Division II championship at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl in Pueblo on the campus of Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Never before in the school history had the any Adams State track & field team topped the field at a national championship meet, but the Grizzly men changed that on May 26th as the a trio of point scorers in the men's 5,000 meter run secured at least a share of the team title.

Those points boosted the ASU lead to 10 points over second place Lincoln (Mo.), and as the Blue Tigers crossed the line third in the final event of the meet, the 4x400 meter relay, the massive Grizzly cheering section let out a roar as the team title was secured.

The final tally had ASU on top of the field with 77 points, followed by Lincoln with 73. Third place was shared by St. Augustine's and Western State with 54 points apiece, and Abilene Christian rounded out the top five with 50.

In all, ASU's men took home 13 all-American accolades and claimed two individual national titles, both on the final day of the 3-day competition, from senior Drew Graham in the 1500 meter run, and freshman Boris Berian in the 800 meter run.

The team title ensured ASU at least one DII team title in every year since 2000, and wrapped up the program's fourth straight U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association Program of the Year title in as many years of the award's existence.

Once again, the 2013 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships will be held in Pueblo.

# 2

Alamosa grapplers capture second straight title

DENVER—For the fourth straight year, the San Luis Valley brought home the Class 3A State Wrestling Team Championship. In February, Alamosa High School won its second straight and ninth team title in the sport, all coming in head coach Gary Ramstetter’s 31-year tenure. In 2010, the Centauri Falcons captured the crown.

The Mean Moose had two individual champions in seniors Pablo “Beef” Ortiz (138) and Dakota Curtis (152) to bring Ramstetter’s individual champions total to 50. Seniors Brandon Bertsch and Zach Mahaney took home silver medals as they were defeated in the championship matches.

The victory was virtually sealed before the Parade of Champions commenced to start the final session on Saturday night. As a team, Alamosa had seven of their eleven wrestlers earn trips to the podium to combine for a score of 146 1/2 points with the nearest team, Olathe, trailing by 25 points with 121 1/2.

Centauri finished with their second straight fourth place finish as they scored 77 points, right while the Monte Vista Pirates finished in 17th place with 48 points.

Del Norte’s Jacob Palmgren was the only other SLV state champion, winning the 2A 106-pound class title in an exciting overtime victory.

# 3

Grizzly men sweep XC titles

JOPLIN, Mo.— Led by three runners who were amongst the top four finishers, the Adams State University men’s cross country team easily won their NCAA Division II record ninth and 21st overall national title, in mid-November on the campus of Missouri Southern State University.

In the first weekend of November, the Grizzlies dominated and won their fifth straight NCAA Division II South Central Regional Championships, contested at the Willis Park Golf Course in Denver. The Grizzlies staked out a 32-point margin for the regional victory.

Two weeks earlier in mid-October, the Grizzlies won its seventh Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title in the last eight yearsat Monument Valley Park to start ‘Championship Season.’

In the national meet, the Grizzlies had five of the top 15 finishers and had all seven finish among the top 28 en-route to a team score of just 34 points. That mark allowed them to easily out-point Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference rival Colorado Mines, which finished with 102 points.

Grizzly redshirt freshman Kevin Batt out-kicked sophomore teammate Tabor Stevens by a tenth of a second for second. Batt finished in 29:12.1 while Grizzly sophomore Matt Daniels, part of the lead pack throughout, finished fourth in 29:16.2.

Grizzly senior David Sanchez then finished 12th in 29:49.6 before sophomore John Luterbach completed the team title with a 16th place finish in 29:57.0.

Senior Andrew Roberts and junior Jovanny Godinez also showcased the Grizzlies’ impressive depth as they finished 25th and 28th with times of 30:09.6 and 30:10.1, respectively.

# 4

Panthers finish second, 24-1

LOVELAND—The Sierra Grande Panthers boys’ basketball fell just short of a state championship in March as they were defeated by the Caliche Buffaloes in the title game, 84-77. The title was the Buffaloes’ fifth consecutive Class 1A title.

The Panthers, who had a stellar regular season as they made easy work of any team that took them on and entered the tournament undefeated, were the No. 1 seeded team in the tournament.

Since then, the Panthers have moved up a classification and are battling in Class 2A.

# 5

Grizzly Volleyball qualify for first NCAA tournament

DENVER—The 2012 Adams State University volleyball team made school-history in mid-November as the Grizzlies qualified for the NCAA Division II National Tournament for the first time in the program’s history. The Grizzlies, who finished the season with a 24-6 overall record, were announced as the fifth seed out of the South Central Regional.

For the second year in a row, the Grizzlies were Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference-West Division Champions and hosted a RMAC quarterfinal match after finishing the regular season with a 23-4 overall and 16-3 RMAC record. They were promptly eliminated in the semifinals by Regis but since they were ranked as high as No. 21 during the regular season, they were selected to the post season dance.

The season was very special for senior outside hitter Dominique Davis, who became Adams State University’s all-time career kills leader during their NCAA Division II Tournament loss to Angelo State University at the Regis University Fieldhouse. The only other senior on the Grizzly squad was libero Valarie Garcia.

# 6

Three Valley athletes win track crowns

LAKEWOOD—The 2012 Colorado High School Activities Association State Track and Field Championship Meet in May were very successful in 2012 for San Luis Valley athletes.

As a Valley, there were three individual champions, one more than 2011.

Throughout the 3-day weekend competition, there were 33 medals earned by San Luis Valley athletes. Class 1A had five medals, four by Sierra Grande senior Robert Ryland and one from Moffat’s Megan Black. Class 2A was the classification that raked in the most for the San Luis Valley as they had 21, top-9 finishes. Six of those were relays. In Class 3A, seven medals escaped, one was a relay.

Alamosa High School junior Samuel Bilderbeck excited fans on Thursday as he was able to win the Class 3A pole vault.

Bilderbeck was one of three competitors to clear 13 feet. However, because neither of the three could clear 13 feet, 6 inches and Bilderbeck was the only one to not have a missed attempt in the lower heights, he earned his first state championship.

Ryland won the Class 1A 800 meter dash in Class 1A state record time on Friday afternoon.

Ryland, who led the whole race and won his first state championship medal, finished the race in 2:00.53. He bested the old Class 1A record of 2:04.20 that was set last year.

After leading by about 10 meters the whole race, Holly’s Stetson Rushton, who finished second in 2:01.96, closed the gap with 200 meters left and made the race a neck-and-neck race for the final 100 meters. The racers had a huge headwind to battle but Ryland put his head down and got the win.

On a cold and drizzly Saturday morning, Sangre de Cristo junior Kathryn New earned her first ever state championship by winning the Class 2A 100 meter dash.

A disqualification by the No. 1 seeded runner and a heavy downpour that hit JeffCo Stadium as the 100's were about to start, could have made things interesting for New.

As the race would pan out, New would win the race in 12.90 seconds narrowly nipping four other racers who all finished in a span of a tenth of a second.

# 7

ASU changes name

ALAMOSA—In May, Gov. John Hickenlooper visited Adams State to make official the Grizzlies’ transition from a college to university. He singed into a law a bill that changed the institution’s moniker to Adams State University.

In August, the new logo, designed by Phoenix Design Works after a summer-long design process, was unveiled. The logo strongly incorporates the “U” of the new institutional name, which became official on Aug. 7. The university colors of green and white continue to play a prominent role as does part of the Grizzly paw, which remains as a secondary mark.

# 8

ASU loses Porter

SEDONA, Ariz.— Legendary former Adams State University and Olympic distance runner Pat Porter and two children, including his 15-year old son, died in July as a result of a tragic plane accident near the Sedona Airport in Arizona.

The twin-engine plane, registered in Porter’s name, hit a boundary fence at the south end of the Sedona Airport runway according to eye-witnesses and then went down a steep mesa. The plane then burst into flames upon impact at the bottom of the hill, according to Ron Wheeler, the Field Operations Commander for the Sedona Police Department.

Porter, who was just inducted into the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Hall of Fame a week before his death in Colorado Springs, was 53.

# 9

ASU announced the re-addition of baseball

ALAMOSA—After a 35-year hiatus, Adams State University announced it will resume playing the sport of baseball. The decision was announced in January.

The Grizzlies will play a full RMAC slate and be eligible for a conference title in the spring of 2013.

Baseball is the 21st varsity sport that ASU sponsors and is the seventh sport the Grizzlies have added or resumed in the last three years alone.

ASU last sponsored the sport of baseball in 1976 and enjoyed quite a bit of success winning back-to-back RMAC championships in 1973 and 1974 while posting the best overall record in the conference in each of the last four years (1973-76) while sponsoring the sport.

In addition to announcing that baseball was back, ASU Athletic Director Larry Mortensen announced the hiring of veteran and successful Colorado high school coach Jim Capra, who has guided his teams to more than 350 wins, a 1994 state title and five final four appearances. He was named as the new Adams State College baseball coach in February.

Capra, a 1980 ASU graduate, who has been serving as the head baseball coach at Arvada West High School since 1987,has had more than a dozen players selected in the Major League Draft, most notably 2-time Cy Young Award winning pitcher Roy Halladay, now with the Philadelphia Phillies and a first round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1995.

# 10

Nelson, McPeek capture individual crowns for Grizzlies

JOPLIN, Mo.— Adams State senior cross country runner Alicia Nelson became Adams State University’s sixth total and fourth NCAA Division II individual national women’s cross country champion, in November on the campus of Missouri Southern State University.

Nelson, who is the first Grizzly winner since Amber Klein won in Ashland, Ohio in 2002, finished the 6,000-meter course in a new NCAA Division II championship record time of 20:03.3 and led her Grizzly teammates to a third place finish in what were incredibly tight final team standings.

2010 NCAA Division II National Grand Valley State (Mich.) squeaked out the win with 101 points while defending champion Augustana (S.D.) finished second with 104. The Grizzlies, who had won the previous seven titles, finished with 109 while arch-rival Western State earned the final trophy spot with 172 points.

PUEBLO– Adams State senior wrestler Luke McPeek came from behind to force a sudden victory period in the 197-pound championship match at the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships in March and scored a 14-12 victory to claim his first individual championship and was also named the Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament.

McPeek, who trailed 6-0 in the first period after getting taken down and then giving up a pair of 2-point near falls, eventually defeat previously unbeaten and top-ranked Daniel Scanlan of Limestone (S.C.) for the title.

McPeek scored a first period reversal, and then tallied a take down of his own after a Scanlan escape with no time left in the first to cut the gap to 4-7 at the end of one period.

Scanlan started down in the second period and extended his lead to 10-4 with an escape and take down. McPeek answered back with an escape but was quickly taken down and put in a seven point hole, 5-12. Once again, however, McPeek managed to get out and scored two points on a take down with not enough time left for Scanlan to reply with an escape, and McPeek was down just 8-12 entering the third.

The only four points of the final period of regulation were scored by McPeek. After starting down, the Grizzly senior cut the margin to three points with an escape before a take down with 1:25 left made it 11-12. At that point, Scanlan held a riding time advantage of 1:20, but McPeek stayed on top for the remainder of the match to negate the riding time, and earned a point for stalling in the process to knot the bout up at 12-12 and force a one minute sudden victory period.

Each recorded three take downs during regulation, but Scanlan was the first to shoot in the overtime. McPeek managed to block the shot, and circled around to score the championship take down. Now a 3-time all-American, including twice for Adams State, McPeek ends his senior season with a mark of 28-4.

McPeek becomes the first individual NCAA DII champion for Adams State since 2009, when current Grizzly assistants Arsenia Barksdale and Kyle Sand were each crowned champions.

Ranked eighth in the final DII poll of the season, the Grizzlies finished tied for eighth at the NCAA Championships alongside North Carolina-Pembroke, as each tallied 42.5 points.

Other Adams State national champions include:

Men's Indoor Track & Field

Boris Berian- 800 meters

Andrew Graham- Mile

Men's Outdoor Track & Field

Boris Berian- 800 Meters

Andrew Graham- 1,500 Meters

Women's Outdoor Track & Field

Kayon Robinson- 400m

Kristen McGlynn- 5,000m

Indira Spence- 100m Hurdles

4X100m Relay Team of Indira Spence, Kayon Robinson, Chelsea Fenderson, Zenobia Sims

Honorable Mentions

—Jason Romero named IML Coach of the Year in baseball

—Sargent cross country perfect scores at regional meet

—Alamosa cross country sweeps IML championships

—Monte Vista football makes it to quarterfinals despite turmoil in coaching staff

—Adams State Women win both Indoor and Outdoor Track and Field RMAC titles

—ASU Men win Indoor Track and Field RMAC Team Championship

—Adams State football season has best year since 1989

—Grizzlies finish 6th in Directors' Cup standings

—Grizzly men's basketball go to NCAA's for second straight year

—ASU Women's Golf going to NCAA's for the 2nd straight year

Editor's note: The Top 10 Sports Stories were selected by Courier Sports editor Eric Flores and Adams State University Sports Information Director Chris Day.

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