The Hayden High School wrestling room has undergone a transformation with the addition of freshmen and assistant coach Dallas Robinson.
"It's been a lot more intense," sophomore Zed Wheelock said.
But that won't guarantee results during this weekend's Class 2A Region 1 meet at Fruita-Monument High School.
Hayden and Soroco arguably are in the best region in Class 2A, and only four wrestlers from each weight class advance to the 2006 Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Denver.
"I tell you, we will leave a lot of kids at home from our region that would medal at state," Hayden coach Ty Zabel said.
The Tigers and Rams are in Region 1 with Dolores, Dove Creek, Grand Valley, Mancos, Meeker, North Park, Norwood, Nucla, Paonia, Rangely and West Grand.
"We will have to wrestle tough," Zabel said. "We have to win some key matches."
The official seedings for the two-day regional tournament won't be announced until after a coaches meeting Friday morning, but Zabel and Soroco coach Doug Gates know where there wrestlers are ranked in the region.
"Tonight is the night I stay up until 1 a.m. and go through the list to see where we are head to head and take that ammunition into the seeding meeting," Zabel said.
The Rams' Joel Schlegel and Levi Gonzales will return to this weekend's regional meet eyeing return trips to the state tournament. Gonzales is coming back from injuries at 119 pounds and will have to wrestle well. Schlegel is one of the state's best 112-pound wrestlers and likely will be a top seed. That matters little to Schlegel, who has beaten most of his regional opponents at least once this season.
"That's the thing about wrestling," Schlegel said. "You can get beat if you are the top guy. You've wrestled them a million times, and you keep going out and wrestling them like you have never wrestled them before."
Sophomore Dennis Morgan will be vying for his first trip to state at 189 pounds. Freshman Justin Iacovetto will be one of the top seeds at 103 pounds.
For Hayden, Coy Letlow is ranked third at 160 pounds, but there is no guarantee Letlow will be seeded third or finish third at regionals. Every weight class, particularly the lower and middle weights, is loaded.
"There are two or three kids at every weight that have been to state, if not medaled at state," Zabel said.
Isaac Haskins is back from an injury and ranked fourth at 152 pounds. Wheelock and Mitchell Vedepo are ranked fifth at 103 and 112 pounds, respectively. Tim Taylor, who has wrestled only 15 matches this season because of a knee injury, is ranked sixth at 171 pounds.
"He's going with parental and doctor permission," Zabel said. "It's his senior year."
Aaron Haskins is ranked sixth at 189 pounds.
Mitchell Doolin is ranked seventh at 125 pounds.
"Mitchell is probably walking into as tough a weight class as there is," Zabel said. Gonzales was originally wrestling at 125 pounds but dropped to 119 after the break.
Chris DeBowes (135) and Jake Magee (140) are ranked eighth for Hayden, and David Blair (145) is ninth. Tyler Manzanares is at 130 pounds.
"A lot of us have to upset a lot of people," Wheelock said.
Wheelock is one wrestler who hopes to move up after the seeding meeting. He finished second to Iacovetto at the Western Slope League tournament, which featured many of the wrestlers who will compete at 103 pounds Friday at the regional tournament.
At this point in the season, the wrestlers are in shape, though the Tigers conditioned hard last week.
Schlegel expected the intensity of this week's practices to pick up in Oak Creek.
"You have go to down to regionals and do well," he said.
The tournament starts Friday afternoon with the preliminaries, quarterfinals and the first-round consolation matches. The rest of the tournament is Saturday.