Saturday, February 4, 2006
Houston Mader's season changed Jan. 19.
The Steamboat Springs High School wrestling team was hosting Palisade and Eagle Valley in a triangular, and Mader's mindset that night -- and for the rest of his sophomore year -- flipped.
"It was right before," he said. "I was more confident than I've ever been. I started believing I would win."
Mader won both his matches Jan. 19 and hasn't lost a tough match since. He lost by decision to the state's top-ranked 130-pounder on Jan. 26. Mader said he learned from that match. He also received some due recognition, earning a No. 6 ranking at 130 pounds in Class 4A by On The Mat rankings. He is ranked No. 3 in Steamboat's region.
The top four wrestlers at this weekend's regional tournament will advance to the 2006 Colorado State Wrestling Championships. Steamboat wrestles at Grand Junction High School. Hayden and Soroco wrestle at Fruita-Monument High School.
Mader isn't the only Routt County wrestler heading to regional meets with confidence.
The annual Routt County Tri--angular was held Saturday at Hayden High School. Wrestlers from Hayden, Soroco and Steam--boat competed against one another in matches close to home. West Grand also brought three wrestlers, but Saturday was more a chance to compete than it was about winning and scoring team points.
Soroco freshman Justin Iaco--vetto and junior Joel Schlegel were in postseason form.
Neither appeared seriously challenged, although it took Ia----covetto three periods to pin Hayden soph--omore Zed Wheelock at 103 pounds. Wheelock finished second to Iacovetto at the Western Slope League tournament, so he also has state aspirations.
"At league, you had to do well to get seeded well at regionals," Wheelock said.
Schlegel is expecting a No. 1 seed at the regional tournament. Iacovetto likely will be a No. 2 seed. Schlegel used Saturday's matches -- all pins -- to prepare for the next two weekends.
"I was working on new stuff," he said. "Stuff you might not run normally -- new moves, different situations. (This week) it will get more serious. You have to go down to regionals and do well."
Saturday's meet started with Iacovetto and Wheelock's match at 103 pounds. Hayden's Mitchell Vedepo picked up a pin against Steamboat's Tyler Jones at 112 pounds. Schlegel got the first of his three pins during the third match.
Hayden's Wheelock, Mitchell Doolin (125), Coy Letlow (160), Soroco's Levi Gonzales (119) and Steamboat's Andy Morell (135) and Luke Rummel (140) also picked up wins Saturday. Most of Steamboat's wrestlers sat out to rest injuries.
Gonzales, on the other hand, made sure he wrestled in several matches before traveling to the regional tournament. The Soroco sophomore missed three weeks of the regular season with a shoulder injury. It's been tough coming back, but coach Doug Gates didn't want to rush Gonzales into competition. Last year, Whit Gates had a similar shoulder injury that ended his senior season prematurely.
"You have to get used to the matches again," Gonzales said. "Doug told me to wait until after Christmas. Last year, he let his son wrestle too soon. He didn't want to make the same mistake this year."
Nearly every match ended in a pin Saturday, but Iacovetto, Gonzalez, Wheelock and Doolin had to go deep into their matches to get the six points. Wheelock was trailing his West Grand opponent, 7-4, when he got the fall in the third period. Doolin finally pinned an exhausted Gonzales with 58 seconds left in the match. Gonzales weighs 119 pounds compared to Doolin's 125.
Saturday's matches concluded the regular season. The regional wrestling seedings likely will be released Wednesday and can be seen at the Colorado High School Activity Association's Web site, www.chsaa.org.