Rams have high hopes as state qualifiers return


— Soroco is the experienced wrestling team of Routt County.

Steamboat Springs and Hayden have a mixture of veteran and rookie wrestlers, but Soroco features a lineup loaded with potential matched equally by expectations.

"We didn't lose a wrestler," sophomore Matt Iacovetto said.

Eleven wrestlers are on this year's roster, and six of them are returning state tournament qualifiers, including senior Josh Iacovetto, last year's champion at 103 pounds in Class 2A.

Iacovetto's hopes at a second title were put in doubt when he broke his leg during football season, but his younger brother Matt said Josh has been given clearance to resume practice sooner than many expected.

Soroco coach Doug Gates was hoping to have Josh Iacovetto back in January. It appears as if the senior will be back on the mats within the next couple of weeks, providing a boost to a Rams team hoping to make some noise at the Pepsi Center come February.

"Wrestling is a tough, brutal sport. Bottom line," Gates said.

Of Gates' 11 boys out this year, five are seniors and Gates believes every one of them is capable of making the state tournament.

An increase in age has likely moved Iacovetto from 103 to 119 this year, as sophomore Ray Trout takes over at the 103-pound slot.

The rest of the seniors are farther down the lineup.

Like Iacovetto, Brandon Ager is a three-time state qualifier, and he will wrestle at 140 pounds this season. Following Ager at 145 is Cody Denning, a former state qualifier. Tyson Gilleland will wrestle at 160 this year. He was a state qualifier as well. The lone senior on the roster that hasn't made a previous state tournament is heavyweight C.J. Horn, but Gates believes that may change this season.

"We're looking for him to go to state," the Rams coach said.

The rest of the lineup features Matt Iacovetto at 125. The sophomore just missed placing at the tournament last year as a freshman, and he said he spent the entire year competing at national tournaments, readying himself for his sophomore campaign.

Freshman Shayne Bruggink will wrestle at 130, and sophomore Chris Fuller is listed at 135.

Junior Joe Crawford, a first-year wrestler, is in the 140 pound-slot with Ager, but Gates said Crawford has shown a fantastic knack for the sport in this early practice period.

Sophomore Whit Gates is the only underclassman to venture into the upper weights for the Rams, but he is hardly undeserving.

Gates also narrowly missed placing at the 2001 state tournament in Denver.

Though the Rams' lineup is laden with savvy wrestlers, coach Gates is quick to point out he does have some inexperienced kids this season, but he is pleased to have them in the practice room as well.

"What draws some in is that they might be sitting on the bench in basketball and want to participate," Gates said.

And anyone that knows a wrestler knows sitting down isn't in the kid's blood.

Soroco opens the season Tuesday in the Battle Mountain Triangular against Battle Mountain and Grand Valley. The Rams will participate in the Steamboat Invitational Thursday at the high school as well.


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