2019: Sports & outdoors year in review, January – June

Ken’s Lake goes from empty to brimming after banner winter of storms

Ken’s Lake was more of an icy pond a year ago at this time. Record precipitation helped to fill it as winter and spring storms pummeled southeastern Utah. A comparison photograph taken last summer shows how the lake levels recovered, below. File photo

The water year begins with storms

Jan. 1: A state report, released amidst large storms that brought snow and rain to Moab, detailed the severity of the state’s low water year ending in 2019. The snowpack at that time was 72% of normal in Southeastern Utah, according to the report. It had been 45% prior to the snowstorms.

The pattern of low water would not hold for long, though. Snowpack in the area reached more than double its average later in April.

Dying bees in Grand County

Jan. 15: Grand County Bee Inspector Jerry Shue told the Grand County Council in an update that honeybee losses were “fairly heavy” over the previous summer due to a parasitic mite and the virus it transmits. He said he expected the trend to continue through the winter.

Managing Dalton Wells

Jan. 15: The Grand County Council voted unanimously to approve a letter to elected state representatives Sen. David Hinkins, Rep. Christine Watkins and Rep. Carl Albrecht to ask for support in managing dispersed camping at Dalton Wells and Willow Springs, where Arches National Park sends visitors when the park is full.

Shopko files for bankruptcy

Jan. 16: National retailer Shopko files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, eventually leading to the closure of all its stores nationwide. In late January, reports indicated that the Moab Shopko might remain open, but it did eventually close in May.

Moab Dance Company presents ‘Aladdin’

Jan. 18: Performers with the Moab Dance Company present the opening night performance of “Aladdin,” which ran the next day as well, at the Grand County High School Auditorium.

Wrestlers beat Carbon to end regular season

Jan. 24: The Grand County wrestling team ended a strong regular season with a 24-6 win over the Carbon Dinos; four later competed in the postseason in the 3A state tournament.

Swimmers finish second, third at regionals

Jan. 24: The Red Devils boys and girls swim teams placed second of eight and third of seven, respectively, at the Region 15 Championships at Emery High School. The boys team went on to win the state championship.

“Aladdin” captivated the audience. File photo

City Market reopens

Jan. 25: City Market celebrates its grand reopening, featuring the national brand’s first Scan-and-Go shopping location, grocery pickup services and a redesigned store interior.

A new dodgeball champion is crowned

Jan. 26: The Ball Hawks unseated two-time champions What the Duck during BEACON’s annual Dodgeball Tournament, held at the Grand County Middle School gym.

The Red Devil girls basketball team competed hard in 2019-2019. File photo

Former Red Devil heads to the Orioles to coach

Feb. 1: The Times-Independent interviewed Arnie Beyeler, a former baseball player for Grand County High School, about his new job coaching first base for the Baltimore Orioles.

Beyeler told The T-I that, when he got the call in January from the Orioles front office, he was expecting the offer might be for managing the team’s Triple A team. Instead, it was a coaching position in the majors.

“I had no idea they were going to offer me that,” Beyeler said. “I’ve been blessed like that in my career.”

Jarom Shumway wins his wrestling division

Feb. 2: Red Devils wrestler Jarom Shumway qualified for the USHAA 3A wrestling championship by winning his division at the qualifying competition during competitions Feb. 1 and Feb. 2. He lost in the quarterfinal of the championship round.

Josie Wakefield was one of many bright spots on the Red Devil swim team. File photo

Jimmie Johnson, Dylan Harrison and Jammin Hester all joined Shumway at the state championships later that month. Carson Whitney qualified but failed to advance due to illness.

Red Devil boys win

state swimming title

Feb. 7: The Red Devils boys swimming team won the USHAA 3A State Championship at Brigham Young University. The team enjoyed a celebratory ride on a fire engine in Moab later that week after returning home as champions.

Two standout performers for Grand County at the championship meet were Braxten Pierce, who placed first in the 200-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly, and Corbin Arbon, who scored second out of 24 in the 50-yard freestyle.

Boys basketball ends season 15-6, loses in quarterfinals

Feb. 21: The Red Devils boys basketball team lost to the Emery Spartans in the quarterfinals of the postseason championship and, the next day, to Judge Memorial in the consolation bracket.

The team finished the regular season with a winning record overall and an even 6-6 in conference games.

Cameron Hoppensteadt led the team, averaging 15.0 points per game across the regular and postseason and 10.7 rebounds. He scored 29 points in each of the team’s postseason losses to Emery and Judge Memorial.

Girls basketball ends season 7-13, misses postseason on tiebreaker

Feb. 13: The Manti Templars, in a tiebreaking game against the Red Devils, won 44-38 to end Grand’s girls basketball season. Veda Gritts led the team during its season; she averaged a double-double through 20 games with an average 12.9 points per game and 12.8 rebounds.

Cameron Hoppensteadt was a leader on the boys basketball team. File photo

“I give them all credit; they never quit and fought all year long,” said Coach Randy Martin of the team.

Softball starts winning season 0-3

March 8: The Red Devils softball team lost its first game of the season with a 12-0 shutout against the Mount Vernon Patriots at the St. George Invite. Grand, the same day, then lost against Juab and Enterprise, 4-3 and 9-5, respectively. The girls recovered the next day for two wins as part of the invite; the first was an 11-5 win against Orem and the second, an 8-5 win against Corner Canyon.

In the end, the softball team would finish the season significantly stronger than it started it, taking second at the state championship.

Red Devil runners win home opener, girls place third

March 9: The Red Devils track and field combined boys and girls team took first place out of eight teams at their own season opener at home. The boys team took first at the competition, and the girls team took third.

At the meet, Kylah Ricks placed first in the girls 800-, 1600- and 3200-meter races; Eli Hazlett placed first in his 100-, 200- and 400-meter races. He said he was happy about his wins but that his 400 could have been faster. He later committed to Brigham Young University to run, becoming the second D-1 athlete to graduate from Moab in over a decade.

Jarom Shumway was a force on the wrestling team. File photo

Couple announces Doughbirds, new doughnut

(and chicken) shop

March 21: The Times-Independent features local entrepreneurs Erin and Ryan Byrd, local business owners who operate the Moab Garage Company, as they endeavor to open a new shop dedicated to making doughnuts and fried chicken. They spent the winter traveling, in search of the perfect recipes, and later in the year provided free food to locals.

“We were doing research and development, eating our way through different cities,” said Ryan Byrd with a big smile.

The Middle School hosts a science fair

March 21: Kaci Hamilton and Jaxith Windsor placed first in the 2019 annual middle school science fair, judged in part by reporter for The Times-Independent Carter Pape. Hamilton’s project featured research about oil drilling, assisted by a tour of her father’s place of work, and Windsor’s project tested the efficacy of various hand soaps.

Their classmates Vivian Heimgartner, Chloe Byrd, Oscar Niehaus and Acel Hall also received awards for their research projects. Jennifer Lewis, Legacy Blake, Natalie Winn and Noah Laprade received honorable mentions.

City employee awarded for outstanding management

March 26: Greg Fosse, Moab City’s Wastewater Reclamation Facility superintendent, was named Utah’s Wastewater Operator of the Year by the Rural Water Association of Utah. Dale Pierson, the executive director of the association, said that Moab “long needed” an upgrade to its wastewater treatment facilities, and Fosse “spearheaded the project” to move from the old system to the new, current system.

year in review
The boys baseball team was young but tough. File photo

Boys soccer outscores opponents 33-9

The Grand County boys soccer team played eight games in the month of March, taking only one loss during the stretch after a 4-1 finish on the road against the Summit Academy Bears. The team’s only other loss of the season took place in second overtime of a sudden death quarterfinal during the 3A championship against the South Summit Wildcats.

San Juan withdraws from Bears Ears lawsuit

April 16: After two Democratic Navajo officials were elected to the San Juan County Commission, securing a majority on the three-person body, the county formally withdrew from a lawsuit over President Donald Trump’s decision to shrink the Bears Ears National Monument.

The withdrawal signaled the county was dropping its position that it was siding with the President in the matter, against Native American tribes that had brought the lawsuit against Trump in 2017.

Jeep Safari hosts 52nd year

April 25: The Times-Independent publishes an oral history of Jeep Safari, a tradition over 50 years strong, written by Chris Collard. On Thursday, March 30, 1967, when the Chamber of Commerce hosted a small trail ride under the name days before, The T-I published a story that said a “new tradition was started in Moab last week…”

Charlie A. Steen’s discovery of uranium in Moab in 1952 prompted the development of some of the backcountry roads that jeepers now ride as part of the annual Jeep Safari. After being etched into the earth, the tracks also provided access to mountain bikers, climbers and hikers.

Red Devils soccer rides

A personal trainer who goes by the moniker Bone Saw won the arm wrestling trophy at The Rio, a fundraiser for KZMU. File photo

5-game win streak into playoffs

April 25: The Red Devils boys soccer team finished its regular season at home with a 2-0 shutout against the Manti Templars. The team finished with the same score two days prior against the Emery Spartans.

Baseball loses to Juab; Emery to end playoff run

May 4: After a 6-12 regular season, the Red Devils baseball team ended their playoff run with two losses in the 3A double-elimination tournament, first to the Juab Wasps (11-1) then to the Emery Spartans (2-3). Brayden Cloud and Luke Williams, both now seniors at Grand County High School, led the team in scoring with 22 and 21 runs, respectively. The team will now have to find a new lead pitcher after Brody Williams, who pitched most innings for the team last year and graduated after the end of the season.

Softball takes second place in state tourney

May 11: The Red Devils softball team ended their season 19-8-0 after losing to defending champions Grantsville Cowboys, who are now in their third year at the top of the 3A classification. The Red Devils beat the South Sevier Rams 7-4 in the first game of the 3A Championships at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City. They lost their next game 5-9 against the North Sanpete Hawks, then beat the Carbon Dinos 11-10.

In their final game of the tournament, Grantsville beat Grand 1-6, with Hannah Owen the lone scorer for the Red Devils after she hit a home run. On the season, Jaci Shumway was the Red Devils’ top scorer with 30 runs on 63 at-bats. Shumway, Owen and Cortney Noyes graduated after the season’s conclusion.

Boys track and field finish season second in class

May 18: Led by top points-scorers Eli Hazlett and Connor Guererro, the Grand County High School Red Devils finished their season near the top of their class, taking second in 1A-3A competition at the end-of-season state meet in Provo and first in class at a multi-state invitational two weeks prior.

The statewide competition started May 16 at Brigham Young University, which also hosted the Mr. Mac/BYU invitational May 3 and 4, a 100-team competition that also brought schools from Idaho and Wyoming to participate. The Red Devils finished fourth overall in the competition and first in their 3A class.

The softball team was competitive last year, a trend the team hopes to continue in 2020. File photo

Red Devils Athletic Director Ron Dolphin recently called Hazlett “one of the most naturally gifted and talented athletes that have walked the halls of Grand County in some time.” Hazlett signed a letter of intent in December to join the BYU track and field team after he took first place among all Utah high schoolers in the 400-meter dash. His personal best in that race is 48.06 seconds.

Girls track and field finish third in state competition

May 18: The Red Devil girls track team, similarly competitive compared to their male counterparts, placed third in state competition at the final meet of the season. The two teams combined for second place in the 3A competition.

At the state meet, Veda Gritts, a senior, set a Grand County record in shotput, taking first in that event after winning the javelin competition. Kylah Ricks, in only her second year at Grand County High, took the triple-crown in state competition, placing first in each of the 800-, 1600- and 3200-meter races.

Boys soccer ends season 13-1-1 before losing quarterfinal in 2OT

Following a dominant regular season that featured 13 goals from then-senior Nolan Ramirez, who scored in every game that he played, the Red Devils lost to the South Summit Wildcats, a team that went into the game with a 7-7-3 record. The boys soccer team lost only one game during the regular season, a 4-1 loss on the road to the 3A tournament runners-up Summit Academy.

“I could not be any prouder of these guys,” coach Chris Beitner said after the final loss. “These guys played the best they could. We didn’t want the season to end this way and it’s sad, but man, we had a great year. The seniors had a great year.”

Boys tennis pair places third at states

May 10: After doubles pair Braxten Pierce and Kasey Kemp won their first doubles match of the state tournament at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, the two lost the quarterfinals match 0-6, 1-6 to what Red Devils Athletics Director Ron Dolphin called a “talented private school from Waterford.”

Pierce and Kemp, who were the only pair to take a set from the Waterford team, placed third in first doubles at the Region 15 championship hosted in Moab a week prior. Then-senior Cody Johnston placed third in third singles at the championship.

Girls golf places third at state tournament

After finishing the first half of the two-day 3A state high school girls golf tournament, Morgan overtook (or, perhaps, undertook) Grand in the second day to finish 14 strokes over the Red Devils team, which ended with a total of 752 strokes. Richfield, which was dominant throughout the season, took first with 632 strokes.

Then-senior Joopy Bamrungmuang finished the tournament with the fewest strokes for Grand, hitting 83 the first day and 78 the next day for a total of 161. Then-senior Jamie Day was next in line with 175 strokes total.

The golf teams finished strong. File photo

The Colorado River roars

June 8: Aidan McClean, a feature writer for The Times-Independent, became a “changed woman” after she faced her biggest fear and lived to tell about it: Record-breaking swells in white water rapids on the Colorado River. The Colorado River got particularly high this year after winter storms brought heavy snowfall to the La Sal Mountains and other tributaries of the Colorado.

Amasa Back parking

June 10: The Grand County Active Trails and Transportation Division opens a new hiking and biking trail in the Amasa Back network. The new trail connects the Amasa Back parking lot to the Amasa Back 4×4, biking and hiking trail.

Prior to the opening of the new access trail, cyclists had to bike down Kane Creek Road, next to Jeeps, side-by-sides and other vehicles to access the trail network, “developing into a safety issue with traffic,” according to Division Manager Madeline Logowitz.

Where are bike collectives?

June 13: The Times-Independent published an article that investigated the lack of bicycle co-operatives in Moab, despite their popularity nationwide. Pierre Chastain, owner of Bike Fiend on Center Street, spoke to The T-I for the piece.

Chastain said that his shop, which is the closest to a bike co-op that Moab has, is a “place for people to go to find out more” about biking and bicycling culture. He also said that, if any Moabite were to start a full-fledged bike collective for the community, “we would support it.”