Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs High School's Carl Ramunno Gymnasium became the scene Sat--urday of an all-out wrestling match.
Parents of young wrestlers yelled and encouraged the competitors, and coaches carefully watched their athletes compete on the mats.
The occasion was an Inter--mountain Wrestling League tournament, hosted by Yampa Valley Wrestlers of Routt Cou--nty, a 2-year-old wrestling club started to give area youths an avenue to learn the sport and hone their techniques.
Young wrestlers representing league teams from across the region converged at the high school Saturday to compete in their age and ability brackets.
Yampa Valley Wrestlers board member and fundraising director Thaine Mahanna said the club was eager to host the tournament this year and let its wrestlers compete against other area athletes.
"This tournament really is a huge deal for the club. I think we have seen a lot of good energy this year from our wrestlers, and we're glad to be getting competitive," he said.
Club president Richard Atkin--son started Yampa Valley Wrest--lers two years ago, Mahanna said.
"We really saw a need for a wrestling club here. We've always realized that Steamboat Springs is full of really talented kids and really talented athletes.
"We wanted to be able to provide them with something that would let them wrestle in the fall, the spring or the summer, if they wanted," Mahanna said. "We're really pleased with how our kids are developing."
Mahanna said the number of wrestlers in the club varies, but it usually maintains a membership of about 15 to 20 wrestlers at any given time. The club is open to all Routt County residents. Its membership incl--udes wrestlers in kindergarten through eighth grade who are from Steam--boat, Oak Creek and Hayden.
Steamboat Springs Middle School and High School wrestling coach Sean McCarthy said wrestling clubs such as Yampa Valley Wrestlers are crucial to developing and keeping quality athletes involved in the sport.
"It is hard in this town to keep wrestlers going because there is always an increased interest in skiing, basketball, football and hockey that sometimes pulls them away. We want these wrestlers to stick with it and to continue staying competitive," McCarthy said.
McCarthy said Steamboat used to have a rich legacy of successful wrestling teams. The school won several state championships. However, the interest in wrestling had abated, and the number of wrestlers on the high school team dipped into the single digits.
This year, McCarthy expects to have 15 or 20 wrestlers on the high school team. Most of them are football players and athletes involved in other sports.
"We're looking to be as strong as we have in years. We're hoping to experience some success this year that will breed success for the next few years to come," he said.
Getting to wrestling's high school level takes dedication, McCarthy said, which is why he is happy to see young people trying and succeeding in the sport.
Mahanna said Saturday's tournament was a good opportunity for club members to gain mat and competition experience.
Ten-year-old Nick Rossman is a fifth-grader who wrestles in the 65-pound division. He placed third at the Rocky Mountain Nationals Monster Match wrestling tournament in Denver a few weeks ago.
Mahanna said he could tell that Nick has the potential to be a great wrestler if he continues with the sport.
"Nick's got a really bright future in wrestling. He's an exceptionally good wrestler because he has a great combination of good attitude and the physicality of what it takes," he said.
Nick said he's wrestled since he was 6 years old.
"In wrestling, it doesn't matter what the points are, you can always win. Even if you're behind, you can still win," he said.
Nick said he gets a different feeling from wrestling than he gets from soccer or skiing.
"I like the jolt I get when I go out there and how nervous I sometimes get," he said. "It was freaky at first when I wrestled (in the Monster Match), but it was really fun after."
Nick said he was glad that the Yampa Valley Wrestlers club was started because it has given him and his brother, Sam, 8, opportunities to wrestle.
"I think it's really great because we have a club for experienced guys -- guys who have been going at it -- and a club for guys who are just beginning," he said.
Anyone interested in the club can call Atkinson at 879-4976.
-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail email@example.com