Mountain Star

Winter Sports Set to Explode

Tony Reyes and Asefa Wetzel, staff writers

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Whether high school or middle school, nearly all teams are in a rebuilding mode. As a result, predicting win-loss records for this season takes art than science. With lots of young, undeveloped talent — and some uncertain variables — there could be exciting surprises this 2018-19 winter sports season. The first practices began November 19, 2018.

The Star Valley High School  boys basketball team is coached by head coach Paul Kabonic, JV coach Kade Wilkes, and freshman coach Tennyson Draney. The past few years the basketballs teams have competed in 3A west but as of 2018-2019 year the team has moved to 4A west. 4A is the largest and most competitive class, and the boys are nervous but excited to taste the 4A side.

The basketball Braves traveled this summer and played bigger schools than they would normally see in Wyoming to get ready for the 2018-19 season. “The team this year really strong. All of our practices have been very intense. We know we don’t have the size of some other teams but that won’t stop us. The team has a great chemistry and looks really promising,” said senior Alex Lawson.  Our boys have been working all day every day through sweat, blood and tears since beginning of summer. Last time Star Valley basketball went to 4A in basketball was 2008-2011. Top returning varsity players for this year include Tanner Thompson, Andrew Jeske, Chase Merrell, and Taylor Horsely. “We got group of guys that work hard every day and hard work pays off. Coach Kabonic does a good job preparing us every week and we’re ready to shock the state,” junior Taylor Horsely said.

“We really need to step up this year and try to go as hard as we can in practice. We are going to have to shoot very well because we’re undersized this year so that will be challenging,” added senior Wyatt Moore. (editor’s note: Moore has since joined the indoor track team to chase a college scholarship and protect his recovering shoulder)

2018-19 Boys and Girls Basketball Schedule and Results: http://www.maxpreps.com/high-schools/star-valley-braves-(afton,wy)/basketball/schedule.htm

SHORT BUT GOOD: Junior Taylor Horsley is the shortest player on the court but one of the best players in the game. This picture from his sophomore year highlight his ball handling skills. Makia Haderlie

The girls basketball team is coached by head coach David Moore, JV coach Andrew Taylor, and freshmen coach Cortland Brown. As mentioned before, the girls basketball program will also compete at the 4A level this season. This biggest class will bring a lot of competition that the girls will have to deal with. Junior Otessa Olsen, returning player from last year, said, “This season should be really fun; it’ll be tough since were going 4A and most of us haven’t experienced that type of competition yet, but I have confidence well do great.”

This seems to be a common attitude throughout the team. Star Valley has recently acquired a new player from out of the state. Hannah Christie just moved over here from Dunning, Nebraska.We are yet to see her play but seeing how she did in volleyball, we know she is a force to be reckoned with. “I’m really confused with all the new plays, but I can feel there’s really good team chemistry, and I’m excited for the season,” Christie said.  There are six returning seniors from last year’s team: Abby Coles, Shay Erickson, Millie Merritt, Caitland Erickson, and Olivia Muir. “These seniors will be an important part of this years team,” said Coach Moore.

LOOKING FOR A PLAY: Senior Shay Erickson scans the court for a scoring play. This picture against the Sugar Salem Diggers is from a home game her junior year. Makia Haderlie

The Star Valley wrestling program is a big part of this school. Wrestling takes place in the winter, a time when all the football players, golfers, and volleyball players from the fall mix in with the soccer players and outdoor track runners in the spring. Wrestling is a diverse sport where everyone comes to compete. The wrestling program at the school dates way back and is coached by head coach Eddie Clark and assistant coaches Casey Parry, Adam Guild, and Winston Patterson. The program has brought Star Valley home many state championship trophies including 3 in the last 3 years. Though they did lose many important competitors this year such as Josh Dawson, Gavin Patterson, and Trevor Clark, they have some returning state grapplers like  Koa Delong, Tyson Hoopes, Haze Child, Tristan and Greyson Hicks, and Trent Clark. These returners will play big roles on the team this season along with the newcomers.

“I’m super excited to see how we do. We have a lot of depth this year and lots of experience returning,” said Head Coach Eddie Clark. This seems to be a common idea. Senior state placer Koa Delong and sophomore state runner up Haze Child both said they have confidence in the team. We look forward to watching these wrestlers succeed and hope they will get “get  booed when walking out for the parade of champions; that’s the best part because we win so much everyone hates us,” Coach Guild said.

2018-19 Wrestling Schedule: http://www.maxpreps.com/high-schools/star-valley-braves-(afton,wy)/wrestling/schedule.htm

CHILLIN: A couple wrestlers lay exhausted from their matches at the Braves Brawl during the first week of December. Addie Burton

The mens’ and womens’ indoor track and field season is set to begin right after Christmas break. The head coach is Ty Draney. Indoor track is very difficult to win because it consists of competing against all classes 1A through 4A. Whoever wins indoor wins best of the best. The men’s team will rely heavily on an experienced group of returners. Sophomore Peter Visser leads that group after finishing last indoor season with one of the top performances. “My goal is to get very fit for outdoor season, drop a few speedy times, and stay healthy,” Visser said.

Senior Asefa wetzel will be returning after a major injury the sidelined him for most of the cross country season. Two other runners to keep your eyes on this year are Jessie Loveland and Dylan Foley. Both will be crucial to Star Valley’s success in the relay and individual events. For the past four years the boys team has placed in the top 10, with the distance squad scoring more than half of the points every year. Junior Dylen Foley has many goals for 2019 year with one of them being making  “it to Simplot Games or breaking the 5 minute mile.” Junior Jessie Loveland added, “I want to run a 4:30 mile and win state.”

The top newcomers to the team hail from Pinedale high school. This year Pinedale is sending 20 of their athletes to Star Valley to compete for us including one of their top girls. The women’s side will be anchored by senior jumper Maddie Friend. Friend burst onto the scene last year at the state indoor when she broke the school record in triple jump. Another standout is junior Francis Hunting. Hunting has been cranking some great times in the 400m and relays since freshman year. Also Emma Dubiz is definitely one to keep eye on because she ran cross country in the fall to keep her lungs and legs moving, all in time for indoor. Dubiz competes in 400m, 200m, and relays.

On the distance side, top returners include Emmy Heywood, Jacie Angell, and Shaelee Angell. Heywood and Jacie Angell have placed top 10 in the last few years in multiple events. One to keep eye on is incoming freshman Evey Mavy. Mavy’s cross country this year was wild. The freshman came out of nowhere and took the number one spot at Nike Portland invitational.

On the sprinter side, McCora Wolfley is one to watch out for. Wolfley runs mainly the 400m and 200m. Head coach Draney said, ”We look to be competitive as we move up to 4A ranks. We will need to have large numbers of athletes that are willing to work hard, compete, and battle the big schools in the state to continue the success we’ve been experiencing the last few years.”

Here’s the 2019 schedule for indoor track and field: https://www.athletic.net/TrackAndField/School.aspx?SchoolID=2891

LEADING THE PACK: Sophomore Peter Visser calmly leads a race while the kids behind him struggle to keep up last year at the indoor state tournament in Gillette. Ty Draney

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Winter Sports Set to Explode