Steamboat Springs Area wrestlers may have been competing since November, but their performance this weekend is the only thing that will matter as they attempt to qualify for the state tournament.
On Friday, Hayden and Soroco will travel to Palisade to start regional competition and Steamboat will visit Montrose. Placing in the top four at this weekend's regional tournaments means a chance to compete at the state tournament at the Pepsi Center from Feb. 21 to 23.
"It makes no difference how many wins you have, Sailors coach Jay Muhme said. "Going into it you could be 0-30 and if you beat everybody in the tournament, you'll still be the
No. 1-seeded person to go to state. You don't have to win anything (up to) this point. This is a chance to clear the boards."
While season-long records do not determine who will go to the state tournament, they are crucial in setting up the seeding for both the 2A and 4A regional tournaments.
Hayden has nine seeds for 10 of its wrestlers. But to hold on to the regional championship title, the Tigers will have to face three of the top five teams in the state Nucla, Mancos and Norwood.
The Tigers grabbed first seeds with 152-pounder Kelly Bruchez and 171-pounder Kevin Miller. For Bruchez, who has just returned from a two-week absence because of a shoulder injury, his closest competition will come from Norwood's Chancy Marolf and Nucla's Jesse Gordon. Bruchez beat both wrestlers at the Paonia Tournament in January.
Miller will also see familiar competition when he goes up against Dolores' Casey Garvin and Nucla's Derrick Smuin, whom he also wrestled at the Paonia Tournament.
"I think both of those guys have a better record than (Miller) does, but he's beaten both of them in competition," Tigers coach John Svoboda said.
Second seeds were given to 160-pounder Riley Whiteman and 215-pounder Tanner Copeland. For Whiteman, his toughest competition will come from Nucla's Sabin Mock, who beat him at the Paonia Tournament. Copeland is seeded under Norwood's Brandon Alexander.
At 119 pounds, Jake Booco was the only Tiger to take a third seed, while fourth seeds were taken by 125-pounder Jake Doolin, 135-pounder Seth Copeland, 189-pounder Clayton Neumiller and heavyweight Alan Stark.
"They're looking pretty good. But it all depends if they rise to the occasion when we get to regionals," Svoboda said.
The Tigers have a great track record at the regional tournament with five of this year's wrestlers Bruchez, Miller, Whiteman, Neumiller and Copeland qualifying for state last year. Svoboda is hoping that eight of his wrestlers will go on to the state tournament this year.
Soroco had five of its eight wrestlers seeded for this weekend's tournament. A second-place seed was given to 103-pounder Josh Iacovetto, 130-pounder Whittier Gates and 135-pounder Brandon Ager. At 112 pounds, Matt Iacovetto was seeded third and Chris Fuller at 119 pounds received a fourth-place seed.
This year's Rams contingent also has fared strong in the past at the regional tournament as Iacovetto, Ager and 125-pounder Cody Denning all qualified for state last season.
For Steamboat, heavyweight Will Zimmerer was the only wrestler to receive a seed for the 4A regional tournament at Montrose. Zimmerer, who broke the school's single-season pin record this season, is seeded fourth behind Broomfield, Palisade and Moffat County.
While Zimmerer has never gone up against the No. 1 seed, Vinny Palone from Broomfield, he has wrestled Palisade's Mike Messenger and Moffat County's Cliff Stehle in the past week. At a Moffat County triangular meet last Thursday, Zimmerer was pinned by Stehle in the third period and lost a close match to Messenger.
In Zimmerer's third matchup with Messenger this season, he kept close to the Bulldog, trailing 6-4 until the final seconds of the match. In the final three seconds, Messenger tallied on an extra five points to score an 11-4 decision and his second win against Zimmerer this season.
Zimmerer pinned Messenger in early December and then was pinned by Messenger in the second period late in January at the Rifle tournament.
"I believe he'll be able to make it (to state) if he wrestles well. He's talented and capable of beating those guys if he wrestles well," Muhme said.