Steamboat Springs Frankly, Derek Morris and Houston Mader were sick of wrestling one another.
As the only two active members of the Steamboat Springs High School wrestling team, the Sailors duo spent the better part of the past three weeks pounding, twisting, contorting and practicing on one another.
Then, the next day in practice, they'd do it again. And the next day, and the next day.
On Saturday at the Carl Ramunno Invitational, the two finally got to beat up on some new blood. They certainly took advantage of the opportunity.
The two Sailors went undefeated on the day and pinned every opponent except for one as both came away with championships.
Morris won at 135 pounds while Mader took the title in the 140/145-pound division.
"It's from wrestling with Mader all the time," Morris said of his newfound intensity. "Every single minute is like a state match. The kid's great. Every day, he pushes me and I push him : but I was kind of sick of it because he's better than me and I take my beatings."
It was hard to tell if Mader or Morris was the best wrestler Saturday. Both cruised through all of their respective matches, with Morris winning his by quick pins. Only once did the sophomore have a match extend to the second round.
Mader similarly dominated and pinned all of his opponents except his competitor in the championship match, who he beat 13-0.
"I'm shooting for a state championship," said Mader, who thanked Johnson & Johnson Physical Therapy for getting his surgically repaired shoulder ready for the season. "I mean anybody would, or there is no point to wrestling. I would have liked to pin straight through, but what I did wasn't too bad."
Steamboat next wrestles Saturday at the South Routt Tournament.
Considering the early performance of his wrestlers, Steamboat coach Sean McCarthy said the season is looking up.
"Those two kids being so closely grouped weight wise, they're just going to drive each other to new heights," McCarthy said, noting he has some practices scheduled with Soroco so Morris and Mader can face some other wrestlers. "They both wrestled a lot this summer. They're both wrestling angry and taking the action to their opponents."
Soroco places five,
finishes third as a team
While not as dominating as their cross-county peers, Soroco High School's wrestling team also performed well Saturday.
Returning state qualifiers Levi Gonzales and Justin Iacovetto showed why they're the nucleus of Soroco's team. Both won their respective portions of the bracket.
Gonzales finished first in the 125/130-pound division while Iacovetto breezed through the 119-pound division.
"Justin and Levi were both at state last year," Soroco coach Doug Gates said. "That's what we expected of them, really."
Iacovetto was never challenged on his way to the title, easily winning all his matches.
"All these tournaments are just a step closer to state," Iacovetto said. "I'm hoping for a state title and this is step one. You have to take them one by one."
Gonzales cruised through his preliminary matches until he got to the finals. Wrestling Moffat County's Matt Linsacum, Gonzales held on for a 9-8 victory and the championship.
"That last match kind of got me," said Gonzales, who won at the Carl Ramunno Invitational for the fourth time. "In practice, I haven't been pushing as hard, and now I know I need to push harder."
While Gates said he knew what to expect from his top two wrestlers, the Rams coach got a few surprises elsewhere.
Shawn Price, wrestling in the 103/112 pound bracket, placed third in his first ever wrestling match.
David Strait also finished third at 135 pounds, while Ben Strait finished second at 140/145 pounds.
"It's nice to have everybody place when you bring them up here," Gates said. "I'm excited about it."
Soroco hosts the South Routt Tournament next Saturday.
Change of plans no
problem for Hayden
Scott Armbruster had plenty of second- and third-place finishes in his short wrestling career.
But that elusive first-place finish had always eluded the freshman Hayden wrestler.
That was until Saturday.
Armbruster forged his way through the 103/112-pound bracket to climb to the top of the podium for the first time.
"I was a little nervous. I didn't know what to expect," Armbruster said. "I just wanted this first place so bad that I tried my hardest."
Hayden was scheduled to wrestle in Middle Park on Saturday, but because of weather, Tigers coach Ty Zabel decided to see if he could sneak into the Steamboat tournament at the last moment.
"This was a good place for us," said Zabel, who was without a majority of his team because the football season ended only recently. Many of his wrestlers also suited up for the Tigers' state semifinal gridiron team. "This was a good start."
Hayden also scored first-place finishes at 171 pounds and 189 pounds.
Because of the limited amount of wrestlers, both Treyben Letlow (171) and Ty Dunkley (189) finished in first place without wrestling.
Hayden's Chris DeBowes finished in third at 152 pounds.
The Tigers also will compete at the South Routt Tournament on Saturday.
- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229
or e-mail email@example.com