Steamboat Springs In two days, wrestlers from three area high schools will strap on their headgear and take to the mat to compete for regional wrestling titles in the Grand Junction area.
The Hayden Tigers and Soroco Rams will travel to Palisade High School, where they will test their wrestling skills against nine other teams from their 2A region.
Steamboat Springs will compete at Grand Junction High School in its own regional wrestling tournament, which includes 10 4A teams.
Hayden, which has five wrestlers who qualified for the 2000 state tournament, is led by Anton Fredrickson. The defending state champion is 29-3 this season in the 135-pound class.
The Tigers will enter the regional tournament as the 2A Western Slope champions, however Fredrickson and 171-pound wrestler Joel Wixson are the only Tigers on the 2001 team who placed at last year's state tournament. Wixson was fifth. This season, he has compiled a 22-6 record.
Hayden coach John Svoboda said his goal is to qualify at least eight wrestlers for the state tournament which will be Feb. 15-17 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. At regionals, the top four wrestlers from each weight class qualify for the state tourney.
Hayden's top state prospects are seniors Fredrickson and Wixson and sophomore Kelly Bruchez. Bruchez, who wrestles in the 145-pound class, is 23-10.
Other Tigers who have good shots at making state, Svoboda said, are 125-pounder Jimmy Rossi, 140-pounder Josh Geissinger, 152-pounder Kevin Miller, 160-pounder Riley Whiteman, 189-pounder Clayton Neumiller and 215-pounder Tanner Copeland.
Svoboda said Fredrickson has continued to improve this season and has done well using his front-quarter move, which is a counter against an opponent's takedown move.
"He scores well with that," Svoboda said.
For Soroco, head coach Doug Gates believes that six of his wrestlers have legitimate shots at making state. Those wrestlers are