Soroco small, talented

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— What the Soroco High School wrestling team lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality.

Despite having five young wrestlers competing this season -- Justin Iacovetto, Joel Schlegel, Levi Gonzales, Steven Padilla and Dennis Morgan -- the Rams took third in Saturday's Carl Ramunno Invitational at Steamboat Springs High School.

Iacovetto (103 pounds), Schlegel (119), Gonzales (125) and Morgan (215) won tournament championships. Soroco won more titles during the tournament than any other participating school. Even Padilla -- who hasn't wrestled since fourth grade --laced third in the 130-pound division.

Rams coach Doug Gates envisions the intensity of the team's practices increasing in the near future, particularly with the lower-weight wrestlers. Schlegel, Gonzales and Padilla weigh about the same.

Schlegel is the team's only returning state qualifier from last year. He placed fourth at 103 pounds last season. Schlegel has jumped to 119 pounds for his junior year.

"It makes you expect more of yourself," Schlegel said about how his fourth-place finish at last year's state tournament affects his goals for this season.

He likely will compete against some of the same wrestlers he went up against last year, but Schlegel isn't sure who or how many. All he can control is how he wrestles.

On Saturday, Gates estimated Schlegel wrestled a total of six minutes during his three matches. He pinned each of his opponents.

Morgan also made quick work of his opponents. Like last year, the sophomore weighs about 200 pounds, but he is visibly stronger. Morgan had a chance to qualify for state as a freshman but injured his shoulder before the regional tournament.

"My ideal goal is to do well as a student-athlete," Morgan said.

Iacovetto has been sitting on the edge of a high school wrestling mat since third grade. With two older brothers who wrestled for Soroco, Iacovetto has been around the sport all his life.

"I'm just going to wrestle my toughest this year," Iacovetto said. "There are some kids I've wrestled who are ranked."

Saturday's meet was Iaco--vetto's first varsity tournament, and he finished first.

He defeated Hayden freshman Mitch Vedepo, 7-2, in the finals. Vedepo is 112 pounds but dropped in weight class because there wasn't a 112-pound bracket Saturday.

Vedepo got the first takedown, but Iacovetto got a reversal and three back points at the end of the first period to take a 5-2 lead. Neither wrestler scored in the second period. Iacovetto took the bottom position in the third and got a reversal with 58 seconds left to win by decision.

Gonzales dominated his champ----ionship match and likely would have won by technical fall if he had not gotten the fall in the final period.

Soroco was supposed to open the season with a triangular against Battle Mountain and Grand Valley, but the meet was postponed Thursday because of weather. A make-up date has not been announced.

Up next for Soroco is a dual against Del Norte at 6 p.m. Friday in Del Norte.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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