Sailors to open season

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Maintaining the legacy of wrestling in Steamboat Springs is important to Jay Muhme.

That's why the Sailors' head coach is excited that his team will host the Carl Ramunno Invitational the first week of the season.

"Carl always liked to open the season at home," Muhme said. "Back then, everyone in the state would come to Steamboat for the opening tournament of the season, and the gym was always packed with spectators."

These days, there are more tournaments across the state for teams to choose from, so it's been harder to find teams who will travel hundreds of miles to come to Steamboat -- but there are a few in the field, which is dominated by squads from Northwest Colorado.

For the Steamboat team, a 6 p.m. Dec. 3 dual match against Rangely and the tournament, which starts Dec. 4, will mark the opening of the 2004-05 season.

"It's a great way for our team to open the season," Muhme said. "We will have eight-man brackets, so our wrestlers should get a lot of matches on the first weekend."

Muhme and assistant coaches Sean McCarthy and Brian Smith are happy to have veterans Andy Morell, A.J. Carmack, Alex Centner, Riley Thompson and Daniel Sills back this season.

"For the first time since I've been coaching this team, I'm not starting completely from scratch," Muhme said. "Sure, I have to go back and review some things, but it's not ground zero."

With only one senior and four juniors, this year's team is still young, though, so Muhme remains excited about the future. He is excited to have a large group of freshmen who started with the middle school program and sophomores on this year's team.

The bad news for the coach is that it will be hard for all of his wrestlers to earn varsity spots for the opening weekend. The team is overloaded with wrestlers in several weight classes and a little light in others. Muhme would like to see all of the wrestlers get a shot this year, but he expects competition in the wrestling room to be intense in several weight divisions between 125 pounds 135 pounds, and also from 170 pounds to heavyweight.

"For the first time in several years, there is going to be some competition to earn a starting spot," Muhme said. "In the past, normally if you showed up, you got to wrestle. That's not the case this year."

The Carl Ramunno Invitational will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday and will feature between eight and 10 teams. The team will travel to Palisade for a triangular, as well as Buena Vista and Kremmling, for matches before the holiday breaks.

The other good news for the team is that the Sailors will host four home matches this season. In addition to the season-opening dual match and the Carl Ramunno Invitational, Steamboat will host matches Jan. 20 and 28.

Muhme hopes that will help build more interest in the team and extend Steamboat's long tradition of wrestling.

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