With professional teams and even collegiate competitions a long drive away for Moabites, locals rely on Grand County High’s many talented athletes for their sports fix. Through the fall, winter and spring, hardworking and dedicated Red Devils leave it all on the field, or the court as the case may be.
Be it a heartbreaking loss or an invigorating win, The Times-Independent strives to record and celebrate the trials, tribulations, and glorious victories that come with every high school competition.
In the spring, the boys track team claimed the 3A state title with an impressive unified effort. The football team’s fall campaign led the Devils all the way to the state championship game and while it ended in a loss, it was still a season to remember. Led by 3A’s fastest long-distance runner Kylah Ricks, the girls cross-country team finished second in the state championship race. Needless to say, there was no shortage of highlights throughout 2018.
Summer brings soaring temperatures and a major lull in high school sports but living in Moab affords a wealth of outdoor activities to pass the time. Whether one chooses to cool off with a float down the river or to work up a sweat in one of the area’s many races by foot or bike, there are countless exciting ways to stay active in the heat and connect with a vibrant community of outdoor enthusiasts.
Other events, such as the Moab Arts Festival or the Farmers Market and Free Concert Series bring people together for cultural celebrations. Though it sometimes seems like Moab is overwhelmed by tourists, the numerous events that cater to locals keep a strong sense of community alive in our small town.
From the thrills of high school sports to the plethora of outdoor recreation options offered by Moab’s stunning landscape, it is all covered in The Times-Independent’s B section. Thank you for reading and here’s to a great 2019.
Grand County High School girls varsity basketball team triumphed over a squad of alumni to close out the year. The alumni team featured former GCHS players from 1998 to 2012. It was a scrappy matchup, but the varsity team used tough defense to overcome a strong start by the alums and walk away with a 49-40 victory. “It was a fun night for the players and all the fans, and I look forward to our second annual alumni game next season,” said head coach Randy Martin.
The boys basketball team spent the holiday break gearing up for a tough region schedule. After moving up from 2A to 3A, the team had a challenging stretch ahead.
The girls’ basketball squad got off to a good start in region play by winning home games against Manti and North Sanpete. Hannah Owen returned from a shoulder injury to put up high numbers, scoring 17 and 13 points, respectively, despite getting limited playing time.
The high school debate team kicked off the new year with a tournament in Tempe, Arizona. With teams from across the country, it was one of the most competitive tournaments the team had a chance to attend.
Grand County’s wrestling team competed at the 3A duels in Richfield. While forfeits kept the team from placing high in the standings, many Red Devil grapplers excelled on an individual basis. Gage Hansen went 8-2, with a win over the top-ranked 3A heavyweight contender in the state. Kayden Robertson finished with an impressive 9-1 record. Carson Whitney went undefeated and was selected to represent Grand on the all-star team.
Boys basketball snapped their eight-game winning streak with a tough week, losing two out of three games. The week started well with a massive 75-50 win over San Juan, but the team then fell to Manti and North Sanpete on the road. Coach Scott Horton blamed a lack of effort in defense and rebounding and costly turnovers for the losses.
The boys basketball team bounced back from a couple of tough losses with a back-to-back pair of thrilling wins at home over Richfield and South Sevier. Grand pushed past a low-energy start with a stifling finish, only allowing three points in the final quarter, to beat the Wildcats 51-48. The next day the team face a bigger challenge against top-ranked South Sevier. The game stretched into double overtime, but thanks to good teamwork and stout defense, the Red Devils were able to sneak away with an 89-84 win.
The Red Devil swim team competed in its first meet of 2018 in Cedar City. Several GCHS swimmers finished in the top eight in their respective events. Mary Kimmerle took third in the 200-yard freestyle and second in the 500-yard freestyle. Braxten Pierce placed second in the 200-yard freestyle, and Corbin Arbon placed eighth in 100-yard freestyle. Tyler Moreau and Alex Lacy had a strong showing in the 100-yard backstroke, placing sixth and eighth, respectively. Both the boys and girls top relay squads placed first out of 3A teams.
Girls basketball had a rough weekend on the road, losing to Richfield and South Sevier. A lack of depth proved detrimental to the Devils as they struggled to match the intensity of their opponents for the entire game. Coach Randy Martin said he was proud of the team for hanging with some of the top schools in the region, but the disadvantage in roster size and struggles with breaking a press were too much to overcome.
The Red Rock Wrestlers, Moab’s youth wrestling team, traveled to the Beehive Brawl at Snow College. Many of the young grapplers earned medals at the national-level event. Parker Curtis placed fifth in a 16-man bracket in the 6-and-under. Cooper Swasey and Brayden Bosh both placed fourth in 32-man brackets in the 8-and-under category. Beachem Bosh Jr. placed first in an 8-man bracket against wrestlers 10-and-under. In the Champion’s Wrestling Club, Austin Paris placed first in a 32-man bracket while Landon Moralez placed fourth in an 8-man bracket, both in the 10-and-under division.
Boys basketball outlasted Emery to come away with a 90-86 home win. Grand built a small lead by halftime, but the Spartans came charging out to tie the game by the end of the third quarter. Luckily, the Red Devils rallied in the fourth and nailed a lot of free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
The swim team competed in its final meet of the regular season at Carbon High School on Jan. 20. Grand’s boys team took first place at the meet while the girls finished in second. Preston Barlow recorded personal best times in both the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle. Barlow finished third in the 200-yard freestyle and seventh in the 100-yard race. He also led off the 400-yard freestyle relay and beat his own time again. The relay team with Barlow, Duncan Clark, Cody Johnston and Trayken Robertson placed third overall at the meet.
The girls basketball team continued its slump with a major 56-34 loss to rival San Juan at home. Grand fell behind early but managed to keep the game close, going into the final quarter down by 6 points. Unfortunately, the narrow margin quickly expanded as the Broncos went on a 24-8 tear to finish the game. The Red Devils did better breaking the press, but still turned the ball over a whopping 32 times. Star center Veda Gritts thought foul trouble caused Grand’s intensity to die down late in the game. “We just fell apart in the second half,” she said after the game.
Grand’s boys basketball won two home games against North Sanpete and Manti to solidify a perfect 8-0 record in the Devils’ Den. The 77-70 victory over the Manti Templars in the season’s final home game for Grand was an exciting and emotional sendoff for the team’s four seniors. The Red Devils let a 13-point lead slip away in the third quarter, but a stellar performance in the final frame gave the team the momentous win. The win improved Grand’s record to 15-3 and allowed the team to hold onto the number two spot among all 3A school. “This is big and it really leads us into a good place headed to the playoffs,” said senior Alec Williams.
The girls basketball team broke its four-game losing streak with a pair of wins over North Sanpete and Manti. Grand got off to a great start against North Sanpete, jumping out to a 19-2 lead in the first quarter. The Red Devils cruised to a 49-30 win on the back of a monster performance by Veda Gritts. She stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points, 20 rebounds, four blocks, four assists and three steals. Against Manti, Hannah Owen piled on 23 points, but the real standout performance was courtesy of Annabelle Garrett who was bouncing back from a torn ACL that needed 12 months of recovery. Garrett recorded a huge double-double by dropping 17 points and grabbing 16 boards.
The high school wrestling team suffered losses to Carbon and Monticello due to a high number of forfeits. With a roster that wasn’t deep enough to fill every weight class, the wrestling team continued to fall far behind in the team scores. However, individual performances of the Red Devils were a silver lining. Senior Kayden Robertson received an emotional sendoff after pinning his Monticello opponent in the final home match of his high school career. Describing his celebrations with the crowd, Robertson said, “It was the best moment of my life.”
The Red Devil swim team made a splash at the region meet with numerous swimmers qualifying for state. Both the boys and girls teams finished third overall. Alex Lacy secured a place at state when he placed first in the 100-yard butterfly. Mary Kimmerle qualified in two events after taking first in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 500-yard freestyle. Braxten Pierce was also crowned a double champion by winning both the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle. Many other swimmers stepped up and posted personal best times, but since they did not finish in the top two they had to wait anxiously hoping their times were good enough to qualify.
Grand County’s Red Devilettes drill team finished in fourth place overall at the 3A region 15 championship. Three seniors on the team – Brenna Cobb, Abby Mason and Morgan Hackney – garnered All-Region honors at the Emery Competition.
BEACON hosted a 16-team dodgeball tournament to raise money for its afterschool programs. It was the sixth year BEACON used dodgeball for its fundraising efforts. Program Manager Kaitlin Thomas estimated the event would bring in more than $3,000 to support “high quality K through 8 programming for youth” in Moab. The team “What the Duck?” won the tournament while the Fiery Furnace Flamethrowers, made up of members of the Fiery Furnace Marching Band, won the best sportsmanship award. The City, a team comprised of employees of the City of Moab, won for best costume/theme.
In related news, middle school students in BEACON competed at the first LEGO league robotics competition in Price. The six-member Gear Geeks from Moab faced off against 11 other teams and came away with the Robot Performance Award and a chance to compete at the Utah championship at Weber State University. Coach Robert Mageleby said, “It is a great way for students to learn about STEM topics, problem solving, and professional ethical conduct while having a lot of fun.”
Two Red Devil wrestlers won division titles at the 3A divisional match in Richfield. Kayden Robertson won by major decision in the championship match of 138-pound class. Carson Whitney continued his tremendous year by winning the 106-pound class by pinning all four of his opponents. Heading into the UHSAA Championships, Whitney had a near-perfect 33-1 record while Robertson boasted a 38-2 record.
After winning in double overtime in the first matchup, the boys basketball team knew it would have its hands full against South Sevier. The Rams guarded their home court with stymieing defense that disrupted Grand’s shooting and led to a 70-56 loss for the Devils. The next day, Grand bounced back with an 80-73 win over the Wildcats in Richfield. Grand controlled the tempo throughout and, true to form, the team had a great second half by keeping turnovers to an absolute minimum. Big man Cameron Hoppensteadt had a big night, posting a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
With star player Hannah Owen sidelined due to illness, the girls basketball team dropped games against South Sevier and Richfield. Missing Owen’s contributions on both sides of the court, the team played with intensity but couldn’t withstand the onslaught of tough region opponents. Veda Gritts stepped up in Owen’s absence, recording a double-double in both games with 29 points and 25 rebounds across the two matchups.
Grand’s debate team traveled to Manti for its final tournament before region and state competition. Grand took second overall with many of its debaters placing high in their events. Grand dominated the Lincoln-Douglas event by sweeping the three top spots. Philip Geiser placed first, Caylee Stroder finished in second and Grace Osusky took third. Grand also did well in the extemporaneous speech events. Geiser placed second in national extemporaneous while Osusky took first in foreign extemporaneous. Kai Wainer and Cody Gatlin competed together in public forum for the first time and finished with an undefeated record to tie for first place.
The girls basketball team, still missing key scorer Hannah Owen, dropped the final two games of the regular season to Emery and San Juan. Mercedes Zunich scored 11 against Emery, her highest total of the season. Veda Gritts had a huge night against San Juan, scoring 26 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, but it wasn’t quite enough to beat the Broncos. Grand fell to 8-13 on the season, but many players expressed big hopes for the next season. Since all the team’s leaders were set to return for their senior years with another season of experience, the potential for major improvement seemed high.
Grand’s boys basketball team suffered a road loss to Emery to close the regular season, but with its record at a respectable 16-5, remained in good shape for the playoffs. The Red Devils fell behind early to the Spartans and were unable to close the gap. Coach Scott Horton attributed the loss to a “lack of intensity,” noting that “seems to be the only real issue that has plagued them throughout the season.” Senior Masen Ward led Grand with 22 points and eight rebounds. Heading into the postseason as the number 2 seed, Grand hoped to make a run at the state championship.
In its first year competing at the 3A level, Grand’s swim team had a strong showing at the state competition. The boys team placed fifth while the girls squad took ninth, but the individual performances were where Grand excelled. Braxten Pierce won both his individual events, the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyles, and helped the 400-yard freestyle relay team set a team record and claim second place. Reflecting on the year, coach Brian Pierce said, “Overall, it was a great season… They were able to swim under pressure like it was no big deal.” Senior captain Brooklin Hugentobler, who set a personal record in the 50-yard freestyle, said the meet was fun, noting, “it was a good last hurrah for me and the team. Everyone did really well.”
The wrestling team concluded its season at the state wrestling tournament at Utah Valley University. The team finished 11th out of 16 teams with two Red Devils earning bronze medals. Carson Whitney and senior Kayden Robertson both took third place in their respective divisions. “I’ll miss this sport with all of my heart; it was my first true passion and I can’t wait to coach it someday,” Robertson said after his final match as a Red Devil.
Grand moved deeper into the playoffs after dispatching the Carbon Dinos, 69-56, in the first round. The Red Devils started out hot to build a six-point lead at halftime, which they extended to 18 by the end of the third. Cameron Hoppensteadt did the heavy lifting on offense, scoring 23 points with 17 coming in the second half. Seniors Masen Ward and Alec Williams were locked in from deep, scoring 12 points each with a flurry of three-pointers. “We decided to go out and play solid and hard through four quarters of basketball,” said Hoppensteadt. Grand trained its sights on Grantsville for the next round of the playoffs.
The BEACON winter survival club took seven eager fourth, fifth and sixth graders up to the La Sal Mountains to learn what it takes to survive in the wilderness. Kids learned cross-country skiing skills, avalanche safety tips, the importance of being prepared and even how to build a dogsled with skis and cardboard boxes. For some of the kids, it was their first time visiting the mountains in the winter, according to team leader Sandy White. It proved to be a fun and memorable experience for all involved.
The girls basketball team’s season ended with a loss to the top-ranked Juab Wasps in the first round of the playoffs. Grand’s offense stalled in the face of Juab’s suffocating defense as they were defeated 44-22. With a 6-foot-3 Wasp player guarding the rim, the Red Devils struggled to get good looks close to the basket. “We played a great game and had a solid game plan against Juab,” noted coach Randy Martin. He lamented the team’s offensive woes against Juab’s intimidating interior presence. “We weren’t able to score,” he said. With no seniors on the roster and five juniors that have a lot of chemistry and experience playing together, Grand had its sights set firmly on the next season.
The Red Hot 33k and 55k ultra trail race attracted more than 600 local and regional runners. The race began at Gemini Bridges trailhead and concluded at the Poison Spider Trail and featured stunning views of Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point and the Colorado River. The top runner from Moab was Justin Ricks who took seventh in the 33k with a time of 2:23:27.
Dreams of a championship run were dashed when the boys basketball team lost a heartbreaking game in overtime against Grantsville in the quarterfinals of the state tournament. Grand was ahead most of the game, but the Cowboys tied the game with a shot off an offensive rebound in the final seconds. The Red Devils couldn’t quite pull through in overtime as Grantsville escaped with a 66-62 victory. Grand’s season then ended with a loss to Morgan in the consolation bracket. Though it didn’t end as gloriously as hoped, it was still a great season for Red Devil basketball. The team finished with an impressive 16-5 record with big wins over San Juan and South Sevier while remaining undefeated at home.
Grand’s debate team had a strong showing at the region tournament, taking second place. Two Red Devil debaters – Aidan Guzman-Newton and Grace Osusky – tied for first in Lincoln-Douglas. Osusky also placed first in her speech event, foreign extemporaneous, which qualified her to compete at the Tournament of Champions in the summer. Philip Geiser took second in national extemporaneous. Emma Millis took second place in oratory with a speech on femininity. Many of Grand’s other debaters also performed well and qualified for state.
A third annual disc-golf tournament was held to raise awareness about gun safety. Sean-Paul Schulte organized The “Little Mac Memorial” tournament in honor of his son who died in a tragic accidental shooting.
British motorcycle company Triumph came to Moab to test its 2018 models. More than 200 store dealers from the U.S. and Canada visited Utah to get acquainted with the new models before they were put on the market. “Moab was the only place we could find that could meet all three needs in one location: performance, classic and adventure,” said Rod Lopusnak, Triumph’s national sales director.
Family and friends of Taylor Bryant and Connor Denney, two teens who died in a horrific car accident, gathered to honor the one-year anniversary of their passing. More than 60 people congregated at the site of the crash to place dozens of painted rocks in memory of the victims. The group planned to memorialize the anniversary again in 2019.
Another season of spring sports began at Grand County High School. The track, softball, baseball, boys tennis, girls golf and boys soccer teams all geared up for competition.
The high school softball team’s season got off to a great start with a pair of wins over San Juan in a doubleheader home opener. Grand showed off some powerful hitting by scoring eight runs in the first matchup and nine in the second, but masterful pitching carried the day. Jessica Jones gave a great performance on the mound, only allowing the Broncos to score once across the two games. The Red Devils followed the strong season opener by going 3-2 at the St. George Elite Invite tournament with big wins over Sky View High School, Skyridge and Orem.
Hoping to top last season’s state run that ended with a loss in the championship game, the Red Devil baseball squad started 2018 on a hot streak by winning the Bloomfield invitational tournament in New Mexico. It was the third time in four years that Grand won the multi-state tourney. Grand won three consecutive games against Grants, Bernalillo and Bloomfield. Senior Alec Williams was the stand-out player of the tournament, getting nine hits in 11 at-bats with two doubles and was also the winning pitcher in the championship game. “We weren’t hitting on all cylinders yet, but we pitched well and played solid defense,” said head coach Jared Meador.
Grand’s boys soccer team fell to Waterford in its home opener. Jameson Hawks scored Grand’s lone goal in the matchup to put them ahead at halftime. The Red Devils couldn’t hold onto the lead as Waterford scored twice in the second half. With only 13 players on the roster, it was difficult for Grand to compete with the private school known for its talented athletes. Coach Chris Beitner thought the team played extremely well. “Regardless of a small roster, we have so much talent on the team this year,” he said.
The girls golf team opened the season by hosting a tournament at the Moab Golf Club. Grand placed third overall with junior Joopy Bamrungmuang leading the way. Bamrungmuang finished tied for third place with a score of 45 on a par-36 for nine holes. Despite her good performance, Bamrungmuang saw room for improvement. “It’s not the best that I could’ve done, I know how I could’ve done better,” she said.
Grand’s sluggers on the boys baseball team logged a three-game win streak to improve to 6-1 early in the season. The Red Devils avenged their only loss of the season with a win over Emery. Senior Masen Ward threw a two-hitter to blank the Spartans. The next day, the Red Devils won both games of a home doubleheader against Summit Academy and Carbon. Alec Williams led Grand’s offensive efforts with two RBIs, two runs and two steals against Summit Academy, and then scored the winning run in a low-scoring outing against Carbon.
The softball team suffered a pair of devastating losses in the second half of the St. George Elite Invite tournament, but bounced back with an 18-6 win over Beaver. First, Desert Hills High School of St. George put up 18 runs to Grand’s one, which was followed by a 10-0 drubbing by Lincoln County High School of Nevada. Against Beaver, the Red Devils cranked up their bats and scored 18 runs on 19 hits, batting a stunning .567 average. Hailey Cox belted two homeruns against the Beavers while Jessica Jones and Akyra McNeely also each knocked one out of the park.
High winds derailed the Grand girls golf team at a tournament in Richfield. Grand finished third out of seven teams, but the match had to be cut short due to inclement weather. High school athletic director and head coach Ron Dolphin said, “Our players got to 13 holes, then the wind got so bad that balls were being blown off tees.”
The boys soccer team picked its first win of the season by beating region rival Emery 1-0. Veteran goalkeeper Jacob Shumway came up with a number of noteworthy saves to keep the Spartans scoreless through 80 minutes. Jose Tavares scored the game’s lone goal on an assist from Miguel Dominguez.
The annual Easter Jeep Safari took over Moab, bringing hundreds of 4-wheeling enthusiasts to participate in guided trail rides. Many love how 4-wheeling brings together multiple generations for outdoor fun and appreciating the natural landscape. Some, however, see a negative side as massive events like Jeep Safari have huge impacts on the land. BLM employee Jordan Matson acknowledged some negative impacts of the event but was careful to not single out jeepers. “I want to facilitate collaboration rather than pointing fingers,” she said. The BLM worked with Red Rock 4-wheelers and other organizations to encourage jeepers to pick up trash and take care of the environment, so the event can continue to be a gathering for those passionate about 4-wheeling without harming Moab’s public lands.
The baseball team split a pair of games on the road to improve to 7-2 on the season. Grand fell to Union High School in Roosevelt but rebounded against Summit Academy with a 7-3 victory.
Grand’s track team took second place at the Blue Mountain invite in Blanding. The boys team managed to take first place, even though it was missing five of its top athletes. Connor Guerrero took first place in the 300-meter hurdles while Ruben Villalpando claimed the top spot in the 110-meter hurdles. Grand also edged out San Juan by one-tenth of a second in the 4x100 meter relay. The girls squad finished second overall. Freshman Nellie Relph took first place in the 100-meter dash.
The boys soccer squad had an up and down week, beating Manti 1-0 at home but then falling to North Sanpete 2-1 on the road. Deklynd Chant scored the game-winning goal against Manti.
Volatile spring weather again played a major role in the girls golf team’s tournament in Ephraim. Through the wind and rain, the Red Devils earned second place at the tournament. Shaycee Renn was the lowest scorer for Grand, who finished only two strokes ahead of teammate Joopy Bamrungmuang. Coach Ron Dolphin noted, “The girls are having a lot of fun this season, and they are not letting the weather affect their enthusiasm for the sport.”
The Grand County baseball team racked up a couple of dominant wins on the road to improve to 9-2 heading into the second half of the season. Grand demolished North Summit 25-3, inflicting the mercy rule to bring the game to an early close. Nearly every Red Devil batter penciled an RBI into the stat sheet during the slugfest. Grand then showed off its pitching prowess by shutting out Providence Hall in a 10-0 victory. Following the win-filled road trip, Grand set its sights on the region games ahead.
Outerbike drew hundreds of mountain bike enthusiasts to Moab for a weekend of trail rides, product demonstrations and parties. The three-day event was started by Western Spirit owner Ashley Korenblat as a response to the industry-only Interbike event in Lake Tahoe. The event brought manufacturers into direct contact with consumers and allowed potential customers to try new models before they purchased them.
Grand County High School’s Science Olympiad team earned five medals at the state competition held at the University of Utah. As a team, Grand finished fifth out of more than 30 teams from across the state and missed the fourth spot by only a single point. Hannah Stripeika and Ryan Lewis placed second in the forensics competition, which tasked students with solving a crime scene. Lewis teamed up with Ryan Reed to take third place in mission possible, an event where students had to recreate a variation of a Rube Goldberg machine. Reed also took second in the astronomy event. Grace Osusky and Gillian Windsor placed second in disease detectives. The team worked hard and tirelessly prepared for the competition, even going to the lab during spring break. “That’s the kind of commitment every team should have,” said Osusky.
The Red Devil baseball team split a doubleheader with South Sevier as region competition got into full swing. Grand dropped the first game 4-1. South Sevier’s pitching was outstanding in the opener, but the Red Devils dialed in their bats for the second matchup of the day. A six-run streak in the third inning that featured a two RBI triple from Bruin Meador propelled Grand to an 8-3 win.
Boys soccer held off Richfield at home for a 2-1 win to improve its record to 3-1. Only three minutes into the game, Jaxen Saunders drilled a dagger into the goal from 25 yards out. Saunders also scored Grand’s second goal on an assist from Juan Gonzalez. Keeper Jacob Shumway recorded a couple of saves to keep Grand ahead.
The boys tennis squad finished in a three-way tie for second place at a tournament in Vernal. Grand beat Carbon but lost to Grantsville and Stansbury Park. Their match with Uintah High School was cut short due to rain.
Grand’s track team performed well at a meet in Manti. The boys team took home a gold medal while the girls finished in fifth place.
The softball team split a doubleheader at Richfield, losing 15-14 on a game-winning RBI in a tightly contested opener and then getting some revenge with an 18-15 win in the second game. The Red Devils then dropped both games of a doubleheader at home against South Sevier. Grand racked up more hits than South Sevier in the opener, but the team was unable to drive in many runs, leaving a lot of runners on base on the way to a 5-1 loss. The Red Devils scored six runs in the second matchup and led through five innings, but a massive nine-run sixth inning put the Rams ahead for good.
The boys soccer team fell to Manti, 3-1, on the road. Grand had five shots on-goal, but freshman Miguel Dominguez was the only player to put one in the net. Goalie Jacob Shumway came up with five saves, and even though he allowed three shots to get past, he still had the lowest goals-against average in the region part way through the season.
Grand’s track team competed at the Desert Hills Invitational in St. George. The girls placed sixth out of 15 teams while the boys finished eighth out of 16 teams. The meet featured schools from around the state, including many 4A teams. Out of all the schools 3A and smaller, the Red Devil boys squad earned the most points. Veda Gritts was a standout from the girls team, taking first in both discus and shot put and fourth in javelin.
The baseball team swept North Sanpete in a home doubleheader, winning handily in the opener and scraping by only a single run in the second game of the day. On the mound in the first game, Alec Williams held the Hawks to only two hits while Grand piled on 11 runs, with eight coming in the third inning. In the second game, Grand was ahead 13-6 when North Sanpete exploded for six runs in the sixth inning. The Red Devils then tightened up their game and got the final three outs to escape with a narrow win. The wins improved the team’s record to 13-4, the best in Region 15 at the time.
Grand’s softball squad also faced North Sanpete in a doubleheader at home. The Red Devils took the first game but dropped the second. Grand trailed the Hawks in the opener until a four run fourth inning broke the game open. A clutch late-game double from Jaci Shumway helped add a couple more runs in the seventh as Grand claimed an 8-5 victory and handed the Hawks their first region loss. North Sanpete was out for revenge in the second game and put up six runs by the second inning. Grand couldn’t orchestrate another comeback and suffered an 11-4 loss.
Inclement weather continued to follow the girls golf team as they competed amid cyclonic winds and harsh temperatures in Ferron. Despite the gales, the Red Devils golfed well enough to take second place. Joopy Bamgrungmuang led the way for Grand and jumped from seventh place to a tie for fourth in the region standings for individuals.
April’s final weekend brought the 26th annual iteration of the April Action Car Show to Moab. Hundreds of classic hot rods, muscle cars and other eye-catching vehicles rolled into Swanny Park for a weekend of car-centric celebration. The event, hosted by the Rotary Club, raised about $25,000, most of which went to the Moab Free Health Clinic. “We’re pretty proud of the show and as you can see it’s a great fundraiser for the Moab Free Health Clinic. It’s great that it’s free for the community,” said event organizer John McKay.
The Red Devil softball team dropped both games of a doubleheader at home against Manti. Grand got out to an early lead in the opener when Jaci Shumway smacked a two-run homer in the first. Manti came back, however, by knocking in five runs late in the game to win 6-4. Grand also let a small lead slip away in the even more tightly contested second game. Grand went into the sixth inning up 4-3, but a pair of runs by Manti gave the Templars another win.
Meanwhile, the baseball team also faced Manti in a doubleheader and came away with a couple of wins. Grand only picked up the three runs in the opener, but on the mound, Masen Ward held Manti to a single score while striking out six batters. Manti again only scored once in the second game, but Grand put up eight to walk away with a comfortable win.
The boys soccer team faced North Sanpete and despite leading 1-0 at halftime, the Red Devils couldn’t overcome a four-goal rush in the second half and lost 4-3. Rafe Saunders opened the scoring with a goal in the first few minutes off an assist from Deklynd Chant. Juan Gonzalez punched in two goals in the second half, one off another assist from Chant.
Grand’s boys tennis team travel to Sanpete County and lost a pair of matches against Manti and North Sanpete. The showdown with Manti was rough as no Red Devils came out victorious in any of the five matches. Against North Sanpete, the match was much tighter with Elton Kunze-Jones prevailing over his opponent in first singles and Kai Wainer winning in third singles.
The Scott Enduro mountain bike race returned to Moab for its sixth event in the area. From professionals to amateurs, 300 mountains bikers came to compete. The race was held in the Klondike Bluffs area and featured junior, amateur, pro, expert and veteran divisions.
The Red Devil softball team went 2-1 in the final week of the regular season. Grand blanked Emery, 6-0, in the season’s final home game. Jaci Shumway pitched the shutout, allowing only three hits and notching 10 strikeouts. Then in the Ridge Invitational tournament in Logan, the team lost by two runs to Sky View and crushed Morgan 20-3. Six fielding errors proved fatal for Grand against Sky View, but the Red Devils bounced back and poured on 20 runs against Morgan. Hannah Owen tallied a home run, a double and three RBIs in three at-bats in Grand’s victory over the Trojans.
Grand’s baseball team split a doubleheader with the Wildcats in Richfield. In the first game, Grand’s offense took a while to get warmed up. Richfield took an early lead and while the Red Devils drew within one run in the fourth, a number of errors allowed the Wildcats to pile on some late runs and get a 13-6 win. For the second matchup, Grand’s bats were locked in and the team avenged the earlier loss in dominant fashion. Richfield churned through six different pitchers in five innings, but none of them had an answer for the Red Devils. Grand piled on 22 runs while also only committing a single error. The impressive 22-1 victory more than made up for the disappointing loss.
The boys soccer team began looking ahead to the playoffs after a road win against South Sevier. Deklynd Chant was the only player to find the back of the net as he scored the game’s lone goal on a penalty kick in the second half. Keeper Jacob Shumway recorded another clean sheet by saving the only shot South Sevier had on-goal. The win improved Grand’s record to 5-5 and placed the team in the number four seed heading into the post-season.
Two Red Devil golfers earned medals at the Region 15 championship tournament in Helper. Joopy Bamrungmuang took fifth place by shooting a 91 on 18 holes. Annie Kopell finished in tenth place. The team took fourth at the tournament but finished in third overall for the final region standings. The performance was good enough to qualify the team for the state championship tournament later in May.
Rally on the Rocks returned to Moab for its eighth year and brought nearly 5,000 visitors to town. The UTV and side-by-side event took participants on 15 trails around the area. Some community members expressed concerns about the event, citing issues with noise and public safety. The Grand County Council approved the event’s permit with a 5-2 vote, arguing issues with UTV noise were not tied directly to the event. Part of the event involved donations to local non-profits. The 2018 event resulted in more than $20,000 going to the BEACON After School Program to purchase backpacks for elementary school students.
The Red Devil track team claimed victory out of more than 40 schools from Utah, Idaho and Wyoming at the highly competitive BYU Invitational in Provo. The boys and girls teams combined for 93.5 points, beating the second place team by the narrow margin of 7.5 points. Grand also placed first on the boys side of the meet while taking sixth in the girls competition. The team set four school records at the meet, a good omen for the region and state championship meets that lay ahead. Ryan Lewis broke a 17-year-old school record in the 3,200-meter race with a time of 9:43.21. Eli Hazlett took second place and set a new school record in the 400-meter. Kylah Ricks set two records of her own in both the 1,600-meter and the 3,200-meter.
The boys tennis team qualified for the state championship by taking fourth place at the Region 15 tournament in Mt. Pleasant. Elton Kunze-Jones took second place in first singles. In second singles, Kasey Kemp took third. Kai Wainer finished in third place in third singles. Braxten Pierce and Tanner Mascaro took fifth in first doubles. In second doubles, Hayden Lance teamed up with Cody Johnson to claim fourth place.
Despite a bitter loss to Carbon in the second round of the playoffs, the Red Devil baseball team stayed in the state championship hunt. Grand started the playoffs in style with a 14-0 win over Morgan. The team put up nine runs in the first inning and never looked back. Starting pitcher Masen Ward only gave up two hits in three innings and struck out five. Bruin Meador and Brayden Schultz stood out at the plate, each hitting a triple while knocking home five RBIs combined. Grand took a 3-1 lead over the Carbon Dinos in the fifth inning with a two-run homer from Schultz, but the Red Devils lost control late in the game. With one more loss eliminating them from the competition, the Red Devils faced a must-win against Judge Memorial.
Grand’s softball team bested Juab, 9-7, in the first round of the playoffs. The game was tied at seven into the late innings, then Tyra Robertson and Hannah Owen smashed back-to-back solo homeruns to give Grand the win.
The young women on Grand’s softball team dedicated their playoff run to late assistant coach Terry Page. While competing in Spanish Fork, the Red Devils unfurled a banner in honor of their beloved mentor. Grand moved into the lower bracket after an 11-1 loss to top-seed Manti. The Red Devils recovered by beating Delta 11-1 in a game that featured two homers from catcher Hannah Owen. Grand then drove home 14 to come away with 10-run win over South Sevier as well.
The baseball team’s season came to an end with a tough 9-7 loss to Judge Memorial. Grand took a 5-2 lead in the fourth inning, but a six-run push from the Bulldogs turned the game around and crushed Grand’s championship hopes. Brayden Schultz led Grand’s offense with a pair of doubles, three RBIs and a couple of stolen bases. Reflecting on his final season as a Red Devil, Bruin Meador said, “You couldn’t ask for a better bunch of guys and coaches to play with. We did a lot of good things this season and even though it ended like this, I feel like we did our best.” It was a good season for Grand baseball as the team finished with a 19-7 record and tied with Richfield for the top spot in the region.
The combined Red Devil track team took second place at the Region 15 championship in Manti, finishing close behind Richfield in first. The girls took second overall while the boys claimed first in their side of the meet. Kylah Ricks gave the best performance of the meet, winning the 800-meter, 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter while also leading her relay team to victory in the sprint medley. Eli Hazlett came home decorated in medals after taking third in the 100-meter, second in the 200-meter and first in the 400-meter. Ryan Lewis took second place in the 1,600-meter race. In field events, Veda Gritts took first in the shot put and second in both the javelin and discus. Nearly half the team, 22 athletes in total, did well enough to qualify for state. “It was a great performance by a number of individuals,” said coach Randy Martin.
The boys tennis team came in ninth out of 21 teams at the 3A state tournament in Salt Lake City. Three positions won the opening round and moved on to the quarterfinals, but no Red Devils advanced past that round. Kasey Kemp and Kai Wainer won their first rounds of singles while Braxten Pierce and Tanner Mascaro advanced to the second round in doubles. With only one senior on the team, coach Skylar Johnson said there was a lot to look forward to in the next season.
Competing for the first time in the 3A state tournament, which lasts two days instead of only one, the girls golf team stepped up against stiff competition. The team finished in 10th place out of 13 schools. Joopy Bamrungmuang played very well, earning the ninth overall spot in the state. “It was a really young team and they all got to learn and grow together,” said coach Ron Dolphin, “I think we made some lifelong golfers.”
The boys track team returned from BYU as champions after claiming the 3A state title on the back of numerous great individual performances. As a team, the squad totaled 115.5 points, far ahead of second-place Delta with 87. The girls team finished in a respectable third place overall, largely due to Veda Gritts and Kylah Ricks. Brayden Schultz, fresh off the baseball season, took the field for Grand’s track team for only the second time and proved to be a decisive factor. Schultz earned gold in the high jump with a flight of six feet six inches. He also placed third in the long jump and fifth in shot put, all while helping Grand’s 4x400 relay team take second. Other boys also medaled, including Dakota Johnson taking third in javelin, Connor Guerrero claiming the third spot in the 300-meter hurdles and Rueben Villalpando finishing fourth in the 110-meter hurdles, a mere hundredth of a second out of third place. On the girls side, Gritts and Ricks each picked up a pair of silver medals. Gritts took second in discus and shot put while Ricks delivered silver medal performances in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races.
Grand’s softball season ended with a 9-4 playoff loss to Carbon in Spanish Fork. The Red Devils fell behind by two in the first but quickly tied the game with a pair of doubles from Hailey Cox and Jaci Shumway. Grand then took a 4-2 lead in the sixth when Tyra Robertson blasted a two-run homer. Controversy then derailed the game when the Dinos subbed in a player who wasn’t on the original lineup card. Grand’s coaching staff protested the move, saying it should result in an automatic out, which would’ve ended the inning. Officials debated for nearly 45 minutes and ultimately decided against calling an out and instead issued a warning to Carbon. With only one out to give, Carbon piled on six runs and ended Grand’s season early.
Professional climber Timmy O’Neill visited Moab with a film crew in tow to combine high-lining and altruism in a video for the Himalayan Cataract Project. The nonprofit organization works to cure blindness in developing countries. “Helping to cure blindness for the last 11 years stemmed off an already deep process of care-giving,” said O’Neill who also co-founded an organization that provides equipment and opportunities for disabled athletes. The high-lining excursion was linkage of the two principles that guide O’Neill’s life: adventure and philanthropy. “If it’s walking across a high-line… if it’s going to cure preventable blindness in Ethiopia for 2,300 people, it only happens because you go and get it,” he said.
Memorial Day weekend marked the 26th annual Moab Arts Festival in Swanny Park. The event featured a kids' tent, live music, a beer and wine garden, food vendors and original art from over 100 artisans. Victoria White Eagle, a Moab local and event veteran said, “The festival is a great event for crafters, businesses and emerging artists… There’s some very high-end and really cool art here.”
Utah State University’s “Ride Utah” program came to Moab, offering therapeutic horse rides to veterans and their families. The ride took 16 participants astride horses and mules on a jaunt around the iconic western landscape near Fisher Towers. Participant Stephanie Richards said she “had an amazing time, being able to relax my mind and gain some positive perspective about my daily life.” The event brings veterans together to connect over shared experiences and often proves to be “very emotionally soothing” for those involved, according to organizer Dr. Karl Hoopes.
Water levels were low as summer rafting season got into full swing, but it didn’t dampen the fun. As tourists lined up for guided trips, the low water caused challenges for local guides. Whitewater levels in the Colorado peaked at 8,060 cubic feet per second in late May, a far cry from 2017’s high of 21,900 CFS. While low water made the Fisher Towers, or “Daily,” section of the river more of a float than whitewater thrill, more intense sections like Westwater or Cataract Canyon were still a blast.
Local climbers hosted a clinic in Indian Creek. Thanks to their passion for climbing photography, Mary Eden and Mercadi Carlson have racked up thousands of social media followers. During a trip to Joshua Tree in the fall, the two decided they wanted to share what they had learned over the course of numerous climbing adventures. The three-day clinic was attended by 11 amateur climbers who learned about safety issues, anchor building and multi-pitch climbs all while attempting more than 30 climbs spanning a variety of difficulty levels. The clinic provided not only climbing instruction but also a sense of community. “The group was stoked on each other. By the end they were all best friends,” said Eden.
The Thelma and Louise Half-Marathon brought 366 women to Moab for a scenic race down the Potash Road. For many participants, it was more than a race. It was an opportunity to feel strong, run hard and support one another. “It was such an awesome weekend,” said Amber Rushton, a participant from Salida, Colorado. “I am so happy that I went.”
Residents were warned about the midget faded rattlesnake, Moab’s local subspecies of rattler. Despite their relatively diminutive size, midget faded rattlesnakes possess the most toxic venom of any western rattler. Fortunately, the snakes are known to be rather docile and reclusive. Unless someone provokes them, they are very unlikely to attack. If the ominous warning from the hollow segments at the end of the midget faded’s tail is heeded, there isn’t much to fear.
Moab’s ever-increasing visitation numbers have brought more stress to its stunning vistas of red rock canyons. One of the more noticeable impacts is the increase of vandalism on the rocks that define the area’s iconic scenery. Since the vandalism is difficult and expensive to remove, the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management have programs to encourage better stewardship of land. “It’s really sad to see this beautiful landscape, which took millions of years to form, to be destroyed in an instant by bad judgment,” said local resident Joshua Richardson.
Stand-up paddleboarding, SUP for short, has quickly become one of Moab’s most popular river activities. Paddleboards, with the mobility of a kayak and room to move around like a raft, offer endless possibilities for a fun way to cool off in the summer heat. Paddleboarders can be found practicing yoga on their boards in Ken’s Lake, cruising down flat-water stretches or even charging through the mighty Colorado’s whitewater. “It’s challenging, interactive and so much fun to do with friends,” said local Elaina Budris. “I highly encourage anyone to try SUP if they haven’t already.”
To ensure the safety of climbers, the speed limit on the Potash Road was lowered in the stretch that contains the eminently popular climbing destination known as Wall Street. Wall Street offers more than 200 easily accessible climbing routes coupled with great views of the Colorado River. However, the accessibility of the area is also a drawback. The stretch of pavement where the roadside attraction is located is quite narrow. Longtime Moab resident and climbing guide Brett Sutteer spearheaded the movement to reduce the speed limit. “The bottom line is that driving 55 mph is way too fast for a corridor where a couple of hundred people are often walking and hanging right next to the painted white line,” he said, noting how he witnessed uncountable near-misses in his 30-plus years climbing there. The Utah Department of Transportation responded to concerns and lowered the speed limit to 40 mph in the one-mile stretch along Wall Street.
Moab’s first Wingsuit Weekend brought a flock of skydivers and wingsuiters to the area for a slate of events. Skydive Moab organized the weekend to cater to local and nearby fun-jumpers. The event’s flocking jumps, in which several wingsuiters made a formation and freefell together, were a big hit. Seeing a dozen people in a coordinated plummet from 12,500 feet above the ground, dodging scattered clouds like a flock of birds, was a sight to behold.
The second annual Terry Page Memorial Golf Tournament brought people together in support of Grand County’s athletic programs. The late Terry Page coached the high school softball team and was an avid supporter of all Red Devil sports. Over $12,000 in proceeds from the tournament was given to the football and volleyball teams, the cheer squad and the marching band. Tournament organizer Claudia Page thanked tournament participants for their “overwhelming support and generosity.”
Kids learned to juggle and tumble at a circus camp hosted by the Phoenix Youth Circus Arts program. Activities included swinging from ropes, riding unicycles and building a human pyramid. Children of all ages and skill levels were able to find something they liked and perform it in a show at the end of the camp. A total of 22 kids from ages seven to 15 attended the two weeks of sold-out circus camp. Olaythe Littlehat, a rising seventh-grader at Grand County Middle School, attended the camp and said, “I did tumbling and I really had a great time. I learned some new skills.”