Tourney showcases future stars

Intermountain Wrestling Leauge tournament gives look ahead

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— As a third-generation wrestler in Steamboat Springs, Shane Yeager has seen the ups and downs of wrestling in the Yampa Valley.

He's seen state championship teams. He's seen individual champions, And he sees this year's high school team, which has just two members.

But that doesn't stop Yeager from declaring the future of wrestling at Steamboat Springs High School bright. Anyone who needs proof, he said, just needed to look at Sunday's Intermountain Wrestling League youth wrestling tournament in Steamboat.

With seven teams representing 200 youth wrestlers - including 27 from Steamboat - Yeager said he has no doubt that the wrestling program at the high school level will be strong in the future.

"The future is exciting," Yeager said. "The most important thing with this tournament is that the kids have fun. We're after keeping kids in the program."

Yeager, who also coaches the junior high program, said he has 15 wrestlers in the Yampa Valley Wrestling Club between kindergarten and eighth grade who will form the core of high school wrestling in future years.

While some wrestlers will no doubt not continue wrestling in high school, Yeager said if they, they'll be successful.

Take, for instance, Steamboat Springs sophomore Derek Morris. Morris may have been the most impressive wrestler at Saturday's Carl Ramunno Invitational high school wrestling tournament. Yeager said a lot of the young wrestlers see what Morris is doing now and realize that they too can do it.

"He's one of those kids that came through our program," Yeager said. "Now, all these kids look up to him."

One wrestler sure to have a bright future is Casey Williams.

Williams finished third at a national event several weeks ago in Denver. On Sunday, he finished second after losing in overtime to one of his rivals.

"I'll think I'll stick with wrestling," said Williams, a seventh-grader. "It's fun, and I like it."

Williams is just one of the many young prospects Yeager beams about. Considering the showing at Sunday's tournament, Yeager might have a lot more to talk about in a few years.

"The biggest thing is that these kids have fun and have a good experience," Yeager said. "But the future is definitely exciting."

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