by Scott Boyle
So, you want to know how you can know for certain that Spring is upon us? Us San Juaners know that the weather isn’t a reliable indicator.
Indeed, winter made a brief reappearance this week, sending the abundant, creamy blossoms that were blanketing apricot trees in Blanding into shock after two weeks of warm weather.
Snow again carpeted the southern slopes of the Blues, if only for a day or two. The calendar proclaimed Spring two weeks ago but frozen ears on early morning walks still tingle icicly of wintertime.
But an unquestionable sign of spring? Junior Prom at local high schools and the Gunnison Sage Grouse spring display.
We wanna be kinda low-profile when talking about these stunningly resplendent beings, the sage grouse that is, being the politics about government verses private land use and endangered species discussions, and all.
But regardless which way the political winds blow or whatever the partisan temperature of the debate around the sage grouse, the winds of nature consistently blow this time of year at the lek.
A lek is where the males congregate to display and compete for the attention of the females, the prom venue, if you will. (For you wordsmiths out there, lek is also the basic monetary unit of Albania, equal to 100 qintars).
SS spent some time this week on a lek with the grouse somewhere northeast of Monticello, observing and marveling at their dramatic and spectacular spring displays.
It starts with the sounds, which remind SS of the bubbling hot pools in Yellowstone National Park, or coffee percolating at the convenience store caused when the birds puff out their chests in froglike fashion.
The sound is neither loud nor obnoxious, but travels through the cool morning hour for long stretches, guiding one straight to the lek.
It was worth every qintar too, as the dance lasted way longer than the promenade at the junior prom and was highlighted by a couple of brief but action packed slap fights between opposing grouse. Didn’t see any of that at the prom.
Visually it is simply stunning and spellbinding as the birds, arrayed with spiky fanned tails, tassled heads and brilliantly white chests vie for the attentions of the local female birds.
Add that to the spectacular sunrise and glorious vistas of Monticello, the Blues, and the windmills (yes, quite dramatic from out there) and you have an experience everyone should have, at least once a week. That will get one through any winter we have left.
Congratulations to three Buckaroo basketball players after being named all-state. Junior Atlanta Black, after leading the Lady Buckaroos to their first semifinal at a state tournament in nearly 25 years, was named first teamer!
Black, along with her entire team but for two seniors, will be back for her senior year next year.
Two Buckaroo seniors, Tyler Bird and Matt Freestone, played their last games in Buckaroo orange and black, and made boys all-state for their efforts. Bird was named to the second team and Freestone third team.
Track and Field
In another sport, Buckaroo Tyler Bird outleaned a runner from Carbon to capture first place in the 3200 m race at the Matt Burr Invitational in Salina last week as the Bucks finished 11th.
Isaiah Sheeran also performed well for the Buck track team with a first place finish in the discus. Sheeran, who fouled on each of his first five attempts, launched the disk 127’ 4” on his last attempt to win by 13 feet.
Bird, fresh off being named to the second team All-State in basketball for the Bucks also was second in the 1600 to do most of the scoring for the 11th place Bucks in the 18 team meet.
Freshman Lucas Hatch placed eighth in the 400 meter to pick up a last few points for MHS.
The Buckaroo gals finished 14 out of 16 teams with just two points, scored by Hannah Leiataua, who was sixth in the discus and seventh in the shot put.
Way back in March, the Bucks competed in the San Juan County Championships in Blanding, finishing in third in both girls and boys to San Juan’s first places.
Sheeran, Shandon Bradford, and Andrew Torres all garnered first place medals in discus, javelin and long jump respectively.
Sheeran was also second in shot put and fifth in the 100. Bradford also had a second in the 110 hurdles.
Gage Wilcox placed in the 100 (eighth) and the 200 (fifth). Carson Duncan (fifth shot, second discus), Spencer Squires (fourth 400, fifth 800), and Weston Nebeker (third high jump, eighth long jump) also placed in two events each.
Thomas Anderson was fourth in the 200, Tyler Bird second in the 1600, Eli Johnson third in the 1600, Ryan Bird third in the 3200, Adam Bunker fourth in the high jump, Parker Knudsen eighth in shot put, and Talon Black was second in the javelin to round out the Buckaroo individual scoring.
Halley Young was the lone champion for the Lady Bucks, taking first in the high jump. She also was fourth in the 100 hurdles.
Sidney Redd was second in the 100 and third in the 100h. Aspen English placed twice, eighth in the 100 and third in the high jump. Hannah Leiataua was third in the shot and fourth in the discus.
One event placers were Phoebe Johnson, sixth in the 1600; Crystal Alba, seventh in the 1600; Carlyn Goodwine, second in high jump; Quincey Ryan, sixth in shot put; Sadie Welch, fifth in discus; Dakota Johnson, fourth in javelin and Lacy Jenkins, seventh in javelin.
OK, out of room. I promise to focus on baseball next week.