Riverton sports enjoyed a memorable 2021Dec 17, 2021 11:50AM ● By Travis Barton
By Travis Barton | [email protected]
2021 was a banner year in many respects for the Riverton Silverwolves sports teams. A couple state championships, a few region titles and an overall competitive level at the top end of Utah’s largest classification, 6A. The year saw the school win two state championships to bring its tally to nine, and its first in five years.
Here we look back at four of the biggest sports stories from the year, in no particular order.
The Silverwolves reached the softball summit in June, defeating Bingham 5-4 and 4-3 in the championship series to take home the state championship, its first since 2016.
“It was like an indescribable feeling,” Chloe Borges told the Riverton Journal in June. “It was crazy just to be in that moment. I felt like you were on cloud nine.”
Borges was one of four seniors on Riverton’s 2021 softball team, now preparing to ply her trade at the University of Hawaii this coming spring. The star pitcher and centerfielder was one member of a deep and talented Silverwolves team who were dominant to say the least.
Riverton finished the season 24-1, only losing to 5A champions Spanish Fork in extra innings 5-3. Of its 25 games, only five were decided by scores closer than eight runs. The Silverwolves outscored their opponents 273-36 on the year hitting 48 home runs and pitching 14 shutouts (which included five in a row).
But for head coach Katelyn Elliot, perhaps the impressive aspect of the team was its mindset.
Elliot continually highlighted the team’s mental strength throughout the season, noting the girls’ ability to focus on the process.
“They come in with a mentality that they want to get better every single day,” she told the Journal in June. “With that mentality, it’s a coach’s dream.”
With only four seniors on the 2021 team and star Kaysen Korth returning, the Silverwolves are in a solid position to contend again.
While the baseball team didn’t hit the same heights as the softball team, it sure enjoyed a successful spring.
The Silverwolves earned the No. 5 seed for the state playoffs after finishing 20-9 (12-3 in region). They also tied for the region championship with Jordan, losing the head-to-head tiebreaker.
In the playoffs, Riverton defeated Taylorsville (twice) and Layton before losing a tight one to eventual state champion American Fork 4-3. Then, in the double elimination tournament, lost to Bingham 12-10. A Miners team it went 2-1 against in the regular season.
Behind its deep pitching staff (four pitchers reached at least 24 innings) and excellent defense (boasting an almost .950 fielding percentage and only 104 runs allowed all season), the Silverwolves were able to make a deep run in the playoffs.
If you throw in the essentially canceled 2020 season and the 2021 version only having three seniors, they basically traversed the year with an entirely new team. It bodes well for a future that sees most of its team returning for 2022.
While the boys team got head coach Paul Mozier a state title in 2014, a championship on the girls side (let alone a semifinals or finals appearance) had eluded him.
Mozier’s heavily experienced team with 15 seniors were able to break that duck this past year with a memorable 19-1 season, culminating in a 3-1 victory over Skyridge at Rio Tinto to win the 6A state championship. The program’s first in its history.
The Silverwolves went 5-1 in preseason defeating Jordan, Alta and Orem by multiple goals. They also won a tight shootout victory over Olympus, before falling to Corner Canyon 2-0 in its final nonregion game. Region saw them go undefeated with only a shootout victory over Bingham and a double overtime win over Mountain Ridge truly threaten to blemish their region record.
The team, led by player of the year Belle Christensen’s 26 goals and 12 assists on offense and the athleticism of goalkeeper Dylan Huff on defense, then stormed through the first two rounds of the playoffs beating Fremont 4-1 and then Mountain Ridge 3-0 in the quarterfinals.
If not for a Taylor O’Farrell goal in the closing minutes of the semifinal against Layton to send it to overtime, the fairytale season could have been lost. But the goal galvanized the Silverwolves, with Erin Naylor then scoring in the first overtime sending her and her teammates to the state championship game.
In the finals, Riverton met Skyridge, a Falcons team it defeated in overtime during preseason 2-1.
After important first-half goals from Mariana Regla and Christensen to put them up 2-0, the Silverwolves spent much of the second half defending with key interventions from Huff and the backline. While Skyridge did pull one back, it wasn’t enough as Whitney Garn side-footed a vital insurance goal with three minutes to go to secure the state championship.
Participating in a region with Bingham over the past decade has meant region championships were hard to come by.
But maybe not anymore.
With its 28-17 victory over its region rival on senior night, Riverton clinched a share of the region championship for the second year in a row. This year saw them take the tiebreaker over Bingham by virtue of its head-to-head win.
The Silverwolves finished the year 8-4 (4-1 in region) with its four losses coming by a combined 15 points.
The playoffs saw them crush Cyprus in the first round 63-6 before a narrow loss to American Fork 20-13 in the second round.