Welcome to the second installment of The Times-Independent’s annual Year in Review in Recreation & Outdoors. The back nine of 2019 starts with one of the best Independence Day celebrations in recent memory; the month of July is musical as the Moab Folk Festival and others sponsor free concerts, Grand County athletes continue to purse excellence, championships are won and the Moab Music Festival goes Latin.
Saving the Razorback
Biologist Zach Ahrens is one of several scientists working to save the razorback sucker, a fish brought to the brink of extinction until a comeback of sorts began. The fish populated the river in great numbers before climate change and human activity destroyed much of its habitat.
The Moab Brewery Cardinals, a Pony League team, wins the championship played in Blanding.
An All Day Fourth of July
Hundreds attend a rocking party at Swanny Park on the Fourth of July. The daylong event ends with a dramatic fireworks show, but not before Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand play a free concert that got people dancing.
The day could have ended in tragedy if not for the efforts of a lifeguard and others who performed lifesaving CPR on a 3-year-old at the Moab Recreation & Aquatics Center.
Dead Horse Point
Stare Park Ranger Spencer Stokes leads an intriguing discussion regarding the mystery of how Dead Horse Point got its name.
Hint: Nobody really knows.
The Grand County High cheerleading squad is named “Top Banana” at cheer camp.
Moab before the dinosaurs
Randy Irmis, a curator of Paleontology and an associate professor of geology and geophysics, presents a fascinating look at southeastern Utah before there were dinosaurs – and even before there were continents, at a weekly lecture at the Moab Information Center and sponsored by the Canyonlands Natural History Association and the Moab Museum.
The Wright stuff
HMK fifth-grader Austin Paris Wright finishes his wrestling season with a record of 241-16. The Moab phenom wins championships at 32 meets and is named an All-American nine times.
Remembering Terry Page
The Third Annual Terry Page Golf Tournament raises $12,000 that is donated to Grand County High’s swimming, baseball and soccer teams.
Picnic with police
The Moab Police Department invites residents to Swanny Park for a hotdog cookout and free swim, an outreach Chief Bret Edge said is an opportunity for residents and officers to mingle and to give back to the community. He credits the idea to code enforcement officer Mark Sutton.
Stars, stripes and sounds
The 23rd Army Band of the Utah National Guard performs at Swanny Park, part of the free concert series.
The Moab Folk Festival, Moab Arts & Recreation, KZMU and Moab Gear Trader sponsor the event this month.
Ride for Warriors
The Veterans Charity Ride to Sturgis begins at Swanny Park, where scores of people attend a ceremony featuring bagpipes, a color guard from the American Legion, a parade and an escort from the Utah Patriot Guard.
Founder Dave Frey and his wife, Sue, Castle Valley residents, have held the ride for several years.
San Juan’s not-so-deep Pockets
A new report shows the rapidly shrinking budget in San Juan County can be largely attributed to numerous lawsuits, including $500,000 on attorney fees in an effort to reduce the size of Bears Ears National Monument.
The band played on
Hundreds show up to Swanny Park for the final show of the 2019 Moab Free Concert Series, featuring Kevin Russell and Shinyribs.
The Moab Folk Festival’s Melissa Schmaedick and Cassie Paup sponsor the July concert series.
Walk-able, ride-able Moab
The mixed-use paths in Moab make bicycling and walking a safer and more enjoyable experience and it’s about to get even better.
The Moab City Council in a 3-0 vote approves an ordinance that does a number of things, the most important is to extend the existing path past Emma Boulevard to Highway 191, with a plan in place to eventually take it north to Highway 128 to link with the river corridor paths.
Controversy over sage grouse plan
The U.S. Forest Services hopes to give locals more control in protecting the habitat of sage grouse, a bird that has lost as much as 90 percent of its habitat over the course of several decades.
The plan is met with heavy criticism from environmental groups that worry the plan will cause “irreparable harm.” Advocates say the local economy will benefit.
The Ute 100 trail run through the La Sal Mountains takes place. More than 150 runners from 30 states participate in the annual event.
Deer, deer, everywhere
The number of deer in Utah has increased by 100,000 over the past eight years, bringing the count up to more than 370,000.
Meanwhile the elk population has maintained a population of about 80,000.
A plan to temporarily house more than 8,000 commercial bee colonies used to pollinate crops in the West in Utah’s national forests, including the Manti-La Sal, raises fears that the commercial bees pose a threat to native bees due to disease and competition for food.
Football season begins on down note
The first football game of the 2019 seasons lets Grand County High know just how badly the loss of 11 seniors to graduation last spring has hurt the team, which loses 0-51 to the Morgan Trojans. The Red Devils played in the championship game in 2018.
Golfers start strong
The Red Devil golf team begins its season on a brighter note, placing second out of six teams featuring more than 50 players.
Runners place at Sugar House Park
The Red Devils cross-country team competes against 29 other schools in Salt Lake City. In what would turn out to be one of her less spectacular races, phenom Kylah Ricks finishes fourth.
Moab Music Festival
Moab gears up for one of the biggest events of the year, the world-renowned Moab Music Festival. The themes this year are chamber, jazz and Latin and more than 20 performances are planned over the next 17 days.
One week after giving up 51 points, the Red Devils football team trounces the Providence Hall Patriots, 42-6.
Quarterback Bryant Troutt has a stellar game, as do Dante Wells and Trea Meyer.
Mountain bikers at Eagle Mountain
The Red Devil Mountain Biking Team places first in points at Eagle Mountain, near Lehi. The six-mile single-track loop is as dusty as a motocross event, but the 33 riders are unaffected.
The Grand County High golf team takes first place at the Emery Invitational at Millsite Golf Course.
The 317-stroke finish was six strokes better than the next closest competitor, the Carbon Dinos.
Opportunities or plan of plunder?
A plan to bring more uses to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is touted as a “foundation for economic opportunity” by the Bureau of Land Management, but a number of environmental groups decry the news as a “plan of plunder.”
Aarchway Inn hosts Texas-based country & western singer Cody Joe Hodges, who gamely performs song after song to a small audience and a large swarm of angry mosquitoes.
The Red Devils cross-country team finishes second out of 10 teams at the Lloyds Lake Classic near Monticello.
Seniors Evan Ellison and Malachi Ricks finish one-two on the boys side. Kylah Ricks wins the girls race by an incredible 90 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.
Devils improve 2-1
The Red Devils move to 2-1 after beating the Union Cougars 25-18 in an away game. The football team would see its share of ups and downs during the 2018 campaign.
Tennis team shines
The Red Devil girls tennis team wins its first home matches of the season, defeating the North Sanpete Hawks, Uintah Utes and Union Cougars.
Golfers finish second
The Red Devils boys golf team heads to Richfield for a tight match that pits Grand County against the South Sevier Rams and Carbon Dinos.
Mountain bikers roll
The Red Devil mountain biking team starts the season in dominant fashion, winning its division in two races at Richfield.
Football team comes up short
The Devils lose to defending state champs South Summit in an epic defensive battle, 6-7. The repeat featuring the 2018 Region 3 championship teams is much closer the second time around.
Volleyball spikes Spartans
The Red Devils win four tight matches against the Emery Spartans in a home match.
Girls soccer falls in opener
The Grand County High girls soccer team loses its season opener 0-5 to the Emery Spartans. Miscommunication in the first half seals the team’s fate.
Tennis team falters
Kyla Jackman wins three of four at the St. George Invitational, but her teammates struggle to win victories.
The Wright Stuff
Youth wrestling phenom Austin Paris Wright has once again been nominated for Wrestler of the Year honors. The HMK fifth-grader has won the award twice before.
Cross-country runners dominate
A home meet proves advantageous for the Red Devil cross-country team, which runs to four top-10 finishes at the Red Rocks Invitational.
Evan Ellison and Malachi Ricks took first and third on the boys side while Kylah Ricks and Anika Sherer took first and third, respectively, for the girls.
Gridders win Homecoming
Homecoming ends in victory for the Red Devil football team, which beats the Emery Spartans 33-6.
Quarterback Bryant Troutt – also Homecoming King – rushes for four TDs in the contest.
Bikers again finish first
The Red Devil mountain biking team doesn’t lose a second in Cedar City, where riders finish first in points in their region. Elijah Topper is the meet’s top scoring male rider while Ariann Child holds that title for the girls.
Tennis team struggles
The girls tennis team drops Homecoming matches to the South Sevier Rams and the Richfield Ladycats.
Coach Skylar Johnson said the team played hard, but fell just short.
Ricks siblings star in Carbon
Kylah Ricks wins another race and her brother places second for the boys at the Carbon Invitational. Jessie Anderson has a top-10 finish for the girls.
Soccer team rebounds
The girls soccer team gets on track during a home match against the South Sevier Rams, winning 2-0.
Corah Moody scores both of the Red Devil goals as the team as a whole exhibits more aggression on the pitch earlier in the season.
Tennis players do well
The girls tennis team shakes off its early season case of nerves with some big wins against the Gunnison Valley Bulldogs and Wasatch Academy Tigers. Two days later they travel to North Sanpete and defeat the Hawks.
Volleyball team defeats Dinos
The Red Devil volleyball team sweeps the Carbon Dinos 3-0 in a home match that features furious comeback attempts from the overmatched Dinos that fall short.
Broncos blank Devils
The San Juan Broncos’ defense keeps the Red Devils out of the end zone in a 0-21 victory in Blanding.
The lethargic Red Devils get outplayed in every aspect of the game as the up-and-down Red Devil season continues.
Volleyball splits final home matches
The Red Devils finish the 2019 season with a 13-5 overall record, and 5-3 in region after beating the South Sevier Rams before falling to the Richfield Ladycats in a heartbreaker.
Tennis qualifies for playoffs
The Red Devil girls swim team dominates the San Juan Broncos, winning every varsity match to finish the regular season strong headed into the playoffs, where they are a top-three contender.
Gridders defeat Dinos
Red Devil quarterback Bryant Troutt continues to have a stellar season as he leads the team to a 47-6 victory over the Carbon Dinos.
Troutt runs for multiple touchdowns in the game.
Runners finish strong
The Red Devil cross-country boys team finishes 1-2 with Malachi Ricks and Evan Ellison and Kylah Ricks finishes second for the girls team, leading to victories at Kiwanis Park in Provo.
The team is highly ranked heading into the championships.
Senior Night victory
Seniors are sent off in style as the Red Devil football team trounces the South Sevier Rams 49-7 on Senior Night.
As fate would have it, only seniors score in the last home game of the season. But the seniors are not the only people honored on this night.
Longtime ball boy Derrick Beddoes is recognized for his 13 years of service. He arrives at the game in a helicopter and to wild applause.
Jackman, Kimmerle play hearts out at state
Tennis players Kiersten Kimmerle and Kyla Jackman – the 3-A champ – play tough in their respective matches, falling just short of winning championships.
Soccer team reaches playoffs
A playoff soccer match that resembles a boxing match at some points ends in victory for the Red Devil girls soccer team, who defeats the South Summit Wildcats to advance to the second round.
Ellison, Ricks win Region
Evan Ellison for the boys and Kylah Ricks for the girls win Region 12 ahead of the state championships.
Football team gets mauled to finish season
The up-and-down campaign ends on a down note for the Red Devil football team, which falls badly to the Richfield Wildcats.
Bikers place second in state championship
The most successful season in the brief history of the Red Devil mountain bike team places second out of 20 teams – and a whopping 2,078 competitors from 65 high schools.
Ricks brings home state championship
If anyone is surprised Kylah Ricks would run away with the 3A Cross-Country State Championship – they were not paying attention.
Ricks dominates all but one of her races during the regular season and the state championship was no different as she crosses the finish line a full 90 seconds before second place.
Evan Ellison takes second in the boys race, finishing off a stellar season and high school career.
Templars knock Red Devils out of playoffs
The football team’s season ends on a sour note as the Manti Templars win 14-35. While the Red Devils’ offense is methodical, its defense cannot contain the Templars’ air assault.
Swimmers start season with home victory
The Red Devil swim team starts the season on a positive note with a win at home against Millard, North Sanpete and Logan.
Josie Wakefield and Arthur Hawks lead the team with a pair of wins.
Volleyballers finish in top 10
The Grand County volleyball team’s season ends at Utah Valley University, where the state tournament is held, and finish 7th out of 19 teams.
These boots are made for walking
Hannah Wood and Canyon Hunt stop in Moab for a few days’ rest as they trek on foot from San Francisco to the North Carolina coast after finishing stints as AmeriCorps volunteers.
CFI, GCMS get kids outside
About 230 students from Grand County schools are lucky enough to have the great outdoors as a classroom after the schools team up with Canyonlands Field Institute.
From rafting the river collecting samples and tans, to participating in service with Rim to Rim Restoration, the students learn to better appreciate one of the most beautiful areas on Earth.
Swimmers’ dramatic improvement
Fourteen personal records are beaten when the Red Devils swim team competes in Cedar City. “The kids are steadily dropping time,” says coach Brian Pierce.
Fall athletes fêted
Grand County High recognizes student-athletes who participate in fall sports. Kylah Ricks brought home a region and state championship and Evan Ellison won the region championship and came within three seconds of the state title.
Boys golf took second in state, the volleyball and football teams had middle-of-the-road seasons, but each also had moments of magic in 2019.
Moab Showdown a hit
The Moab Showdown 49-Hour Short Film Competition is a “smashing success,” according to organizers at the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission, which held the competition in celebration of its 70th anniversary.
Dead Horse Ultra
More than 800 runners, some coming from as far away as Hawaii and Canada, participate in the Dead Horse Ultra marathon held at Seven Trails in Gemini Bridges.
Competitors can choose running 30K or 50K – or a grueling 50 miles.
Swimmers continue to improve
“Everybody had a great day,” says Grand County High swim coach Brian Pierce after the Red Devils take first or second in many events.
Pat Pakkarato had an especially good day, winning the boys 200-yard medley and coming behind to win the 100-yard fly.
Cleaning up Poison Spider
Members of several off-road groups team up with the Bureau of Land Management’s Moab Field Office.
They include Red Rock 4-Wheelers, Moab Friends for Wheelin’, Xtreme 4X4 Tours, JG Outfitters, Outlaw Jeep Adventures, and Moab Motorsports.
Nail-biter opens boys basketball season
The Red Devil basketball team travels to Vivant Arena in Salt Lake City to open its season against the North Sanpete Hawks and lose a 59-62 thriller. Kaine Allred leads the way with 26 points.
Girls hoops young, fast
New head coach Andrea Noyes understands her young squad will struggle in the 2019-2020 campaign, but she’s excited to see the team gel and is confident it will. These girls are stars in the classroom, as well.