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The best sports stories of 2009

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By Brian Forbes

What did you want for the holidays?

World peace? An Xbox? Snowboard? How about yet another year-end list?

Since we’re fresh out of the first three items, you’ll get the last. And you’ll like it.

The world doesn’t revolve around sports, but it sure makes things a lot more fun. And sports has always played a big part in the lives of Evergreen student-athletes.

Since you asked for it, here it is, folks. The top six sports stories of 2009 in the order they happened.

Oh, and peace on Earth and goodwill to (wo)men.

FEBRUARY: Ski studs

Skiing doesn't get a lot of prep hype. In fact, it's safe to call it the forgotten sport, mainly because the events happen in the mountains and crowds don't like to stand in the snow to get their sporting fix.

Two athletes from the Evergreen team gave people a reason to change that. Zach Petrik was the skimeister for 2009, making him the all-around king of the slopes last season. Taylor Verdun also got some hardware as she placed first in the giant slalom event.

MAY: Track stars

The greatest/worst state championship of the year is track and field. So much goes on the final week of the prep calendar season, from baseball to lacrosse to soccer, and track gets a two-day carnival when it probably deserves its own weekend.

Bygones. The Cougars had a good outing at state behind senior Ryan Haebe and the boys 1,600 relay squad. The relay squad finished first in Class 4A with a time of 3 minutes, 20.13 seconds.

Haebe drew two sixes. He placed sixth in the 1,600 run and sixth in the 3,200 race.

MAY: Lighting up the links

Here’s a golf story that doesn’t involve Tiger Woods, or crashing into a tree, or … you get the picture.

Few state championships involve crowds that follow you around for nearly three hours, but golf is funny like that. A good putter and a solid case of nerves can go far.

Evergreen’s duo of Christina Spinzig and Chance Forbes both placed inside the top six at the Class 4A state championships to cap great seasons.

Spinzig was one stroke off the lead after the first day, carding a 76. She shot an 87 on her final round but still finished tied for fourth.

Forbes was consistent, albeit not to her liking, as she fired an 82 and 83 to finished tied for sixth.

OCTOBER: Mountain Bowl

Normally, your local newspaper would be in trouble if it caused readers to remember a 47-0 loss to your arch rival, but the Mountain Bowl was one game no one will soon forget.

After years of careless dreaming, speculation, purposeful dreaming and then action by parents, coaches, school administrators and community members, Evergreen hosted a football game Oct. 2 for the first time since 1978.

The crowd was awesome, the food was tailgate approved, the announcer was famous, the atmosphere was perfect and the night was clear and cold.

The game? Well, let’s just say Conifer harnessed all that energy and made history with a triumphant victory. But even that is at the heart of all good rivalries. Some times “the other guy” just has your number. Some times the rival gets to revel in an old-fashioned tail-whipping.

But that should only feed next year, when the Lobos host Evergreen at their place. The bar has been set for a mountain football game, and it’s been set pretty darn high.

NOVEMBER: Girls lose first race

You won’t find a more enthusiastic running coach in this state than Evergreen’s Rob Wright. The guy loves running. The guy knows running.

So when he says he’s never had a team go undefeated through the season, that is saying something.

The Lady Cougars were faster than anyone they met this season … until the state meet, where the Cougars placed fourth overall.

Although there was a lot of fanfare leading up to the state meet and the Cougars got a lot of their peers to make the trip to Fort Collins to cheer them on, the lower-than-expected finish wasn’t a huge downer. That’s because the future is too bright.

Four of Evergreen’s top runners at state -- Maura O’Brien, Bryn Haebe, Sam Skold and Taylor Rauch -- all return next year.

NOVEMBER: Valdez leads gymnasts at state

The Evergreen gymnastic squad had a tough act to follow this year after shining at state last year.

No problem.

The Cougars took third overall thanks largely to a standout performance from Kelsey Valdez, who placed fifth in the grueling all-around competition, won the vault competition and placed third on her floor exercise.

Valdez won the vault with a score of 9.2, edging the second-place finisher while finishing well ahead of third place.

It was far from a one-girl show, however, as Cori Graves placed fourth in the uneven bars and Macall Hock was fifth on the balance beam. One of the better stories of the competition went to senior Lily Werthan, who placed third on the bars and sixth on the balance beam a week after her father had nearly died in an accident at work.