by Scott Boyle
It was a great week in sports for Monticello High School, what with the cross country teams winning their own meet, the volleyball team sweeping Monument Valley, and the football team showing marked improvement in their game against Richfield.
Let’s start with cross country. Easton Nielson, who covered the Loyd’s Lake course in course record time (17:11), led the Buckaroos to a victory over the Broncos of San Juan, 32 points to 46. Mancos and Pinnacle Canyon followed in third and fourth.
Along with the determined Buckaroo senior Nielson, Monticello was paced by Tyler Bird, who was third and Jens Brewer, who was fifth overall.
Then a host of Broncos finished together, placing sixth to ninth. They are Braden Meyer, Christian Sherrow, Cole Chamberlain and Chase Chamberlain.
The Bucks secured the victory when Kyler LaRose and Everett Hatch came in front of the Bronco fifth place runner, placing 12th and 13th, followed immediately by Sheldon Black, and Tanner Eardley.
The Bucks were displaying the pack style of runner that has produced two state cross country championships in a row.
Bronco Spencer Beck concluded the Bronco scoring, finishing just behind Buckaroo Eardley.
Eli Johnson, of Monticello, captured first place in the JV boys run, although the Broncos beat Monticello in that race, 25 to 39.
Bronco Adam Ward, the first Bronco, came in second with the Broncos claiming 14 of the next 16 places. Matt Lewis of San Juan was third and Garrett Chamberlain fourth.
Rachel Demby of Cortez smoked the girls race, finishing 90 seconds ahead of the second place runner, Bailey Goodwine of Monticello.
However, Goodwine and third place winner Zoe Chadwick led the Monticello girls to the team title ahead of Cortez, Mancos, and San Juan. Alexia Stash and Kira Simpson led the Bronco parade with sixth and ninth place finishes.
The third Buckaroo is freshman Kendall Harris in eighth, followed by Ashley Hoggard (11th), and Cambria Welch (13th).
San Juan won the JV girls with Kelsey Flavel taking first, Cait Winder second, Sharla Janito third, Sierra Monson fourth, and McKady Grover fifth.
Jessica Walker of Lyman Middle School won the girls junior high race, as did the Broncos. They captured the first five spots with Nizhoni Warren, Madison Palmer, Taylor Martinez, and Whitnie Ivins.
The Lyman Middle School boys also won first place, behind Kade Francom’s second place and Grange Simpson (fourth) and Seth Pugh (fifth).
Buckaroo Adam Bunker (seventh) finished just ahead of teammate Dillon Bird to pace the Bucks to a second place finish.
The Bucks defeated the always-tough Grand County Lady Red Devils, 3-1 on Tuesday before making short work of the Monument Valley Lady Cougars on Friday afternoon, winning in straight sets.
Buckaroo head coach Tony Esplin is enthusiastic about this year’s team, who although very young (only one senior), have shown great poise and skill in the early going and look to contend once again for a state champion.
Everyone’s favorite seems to be St. Joes, who return every starter from last year’s runnerup team.
Even though the Bucks lost to 3A Richfield, 33-16, on Friday night in Monticello, many positive signs emerged for the 1-2 Buckaroos.
Head coach Lee Chadwick shuffled his lineup a little to put Austin Maloy and Austin Wilcox together again in the backfield, while playing Tobin Esplin at tight end.
The rearrangement worked for the Buckaroos as they rushed for 274 yards and two touchdowns.
Maloy rushed for 129 yards and scored the Buckaroos first touchdown early in the second half, to give the Buckaroos faith as they simply outplayed the Wildcats in the second half, offensively and defensively.
Wilcox added 113 yards on 14 carries and a 35-yard TD. Junior Cole Eldredge only touched the ball five times, but blasted his way to 34 yards rushing and another 12 yards on a pass play.
Mixing the run and pass effectively, the Wildcats raced to a 21-0 first half led.
The first half ended with the Bucks on the Richfield eight yard line after driving the ball 66 yards in the closing moments of the half.
A pass fell incomplete in the end zone on the last play of the half. But the Bucks came out from halftime much more determined and mostly shut down the vaunted Wildcat rushing attack in the second half, while consistently running the ball very well.
One could see the Bucks improving as the game went along. Next up for the Buckaroos is a home game with the always-tough Kanab Cowboys.