Achieving greatness

Wrestlers victorious in different ways

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— Kelly Chambers and Josh Iacovetto wave and say hello whenever they cross paths.

The seniors from Steamboat Springs and Soroco, respectively, have spent nearly four years watching the other achieve greatness.

On Thursday they met for the first time on the mat. Iacovetto technically won, 12-11, but both came away victorious.

Iacovetto is in search of his second state title for the Rams, and Thursday's win was another in a line of victories the 112 lb. young man must have to accomplish his goal.

Chambers has Down syndrome, and Thursday might have been the highlight of his wrestling life.

"I wasn't going to just sit there," Chambers said. "My team practices hard so I had to go hard."

For three periods, the seniors exchanged takedowns and escapes before Iacovetto recorded the match-winning reversal with less than 15 seconds left. Chambers escaped with five seconds to go, losing by just one.

Following the match, Iacovetto shook the hand of Chambers and the Sailor coaches.

Chambers shook the hand of Iacovetto, the Soroco coaches and then leapt into the arms of Steamboat coach Jay Muhme.

"I told Kelly he came within one point of beating the state champ and he said, 'Oh, yeah,'" Muhme said. "I'm going to miss him."

Iacovetto and Chambers provided laughter and smiles on a night filled with seemingly more forfeits than matches.

Steamboat, Soroco and Hayden all have low participation numbers this year, so the forfeit totals were high. Injury and illness depleted the lineups even further. But the kids able to get on the mat Thursday night in Oak Creek, be it official or exhibition, took advantage of the opportunities.

The Rams defeated the Sailors, 33-30, and the Tigers, 49-6, behind a more experienced roster than their visiting Routt County counterparts.

"The home fans helped, too," Soroco sophomore Whit Gates said. "They lifted our spirits."

Initially, Gates and Hayden senior Kelly Bruchez were expected to provide Thursday's highlight match at 152 lbs.

They split their previous two meetings of the season, but a thumb injury to Bruchez in Leadville Jan. 25 prevented him from taking the mat against Gates on Thursday.

Bruchez said his thumb was still sore but getting better. He needed some mat time and felt good enough to wrestle Steamboat freshman Vince Grippa in an exhibition win.

Gates is another story.

"Whit's pretty tough," Tigers coach John Svoboda said. "I didn't want to chance injuring the thumb."

Gates understood. He said if his thumb was busted up and feeling sore, he wouldn't like to risk further damage against Bruchez, especially because the two will likely see each other next weekend in Hayden at the league tournament.

Some young kids for each team, however, were able to pick up multiple matches.

The Tigers' David Blair, Isaac Haskin and Scott Drew squared off against the Rams' Iacovetto, Brandon Ager and Matt Iacovetto, respectively. The three Soroco kids are former state qualifiers. The three Hayden wrestlers are in their first year with the team, and it showed.

Haskin and Drew were both pinned, while Blair wrestled Josh Iacovetto hard before the match ended in a technical fall with 15 seconds left in the third.

Svoboda said he wants his young guys to display sound basics when going up against a more experienced opponent.

Soroco coach Doug Gates expects some similar things from his veterans on the other end.

"I'm looking for good moves, no mistakes," Gates said. "They can also try something new that they don't usually get to try."

Steamboat's Walker Hammond (135 lbs.) picked up a win in an exhibition, while the Sailors' Andy Morell (103 lbs.) notched an exhibition win and recorded a fall over Soroco sophomore Ray Trout.

"It's a confidence thing with Andy," Muhme said. "When he gets determined, he can wrestle with anybody. All in all, I thought we wrestled real well. They did it with energy."

Sailor heavyweight Will Zimmerer pinned Ram senior C.J. Horn in 1 minute, 29 seconds. Steamboat junior Dave Gittleson picked up two wins with one coming in an exhibition match against Soroco junior Joe Crawford.

The Sailors travel to Palisade on Saturday for a triangular with Palisade and Moffat County at 8 a.m.

Hayden will be at the Eagle Valley Quadrangular, while Soroco will be idle until the league tournament at 9 a.m Feb. 8 in Hayden.

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