Steamboat Springs Jay Muhme remembers when seventh grade was a youngster's first exposure to wrestling. After all, that's when he started.
But children have been starting the sport even sooner, winning national tournaments at the age of 5.
Muhme, however, encourages anyone, particularly middle school students, to try wrestling. As the middle school coach, he balances seventh- and eighth-graders with varying backgrounds in one room for one month, hoping to turn the children on to the sport.
"Seven of the 10 that I had never wrestled before," Muhme said of this year's roster. "It's good to have them out. It rounds out the team. Part of the experience is being part of the team more than anything, not necessarily just the wrestling."
Muhme was pleased that all 10 who started the season stuck it out, staying positive in the wins and, more often than not, the defeats.
"I only have a month with them," Muhme said. "There's less conditioning. We spend more time on technique."
Travis Darling and Tannor Luster, two of the more experienced middle school wrestlers, had the most competitive success. Darling finished 17-2, while Luster went 10-4. Both are headed to the Southwest Regional Tournament in Grand Junction.
The tournament opens today, but it is not affiliated with the middle school season, Muhme said.
Darling and Luster stayed in shape by working out at the high school and by participating in track.
The 10 youngsters who participated in middle school wrestling this season were Darling, Luster, Andrew Kulas, Christian Compagna, Daniel Coyner, Zach Beckwith, Nigel Hammond, Jeffrey Hauk, Derek Blake and Alex Centner.
Keith Curry also took part in middle school workouts even though he's in sixth grade. He isn't allowed to compete with the Steamboat Springs Middle School team, but Muhme welcomed his presence in the room.
Curry is attending a Pee Wee Tournament in Meeker this weekend.
"The season went pretty well," Muhme said. "For having a room full of inexperienced wrestlers, they did come a long way."