Steamboat Springs Routt County's best wrestlers know they have to bring their 'A' games to this weekend's regional tournaments if they hope to earn a spot on the state's biggest wrestling stage - the Colorado High School Activities Association State Wrestling Tournament from Feb. 15 to 17 in Denver.
"I'm already getting butterflies and all that," Soroco wrestler Justin Iacovetto said after a Saturday dual with Hayden. "For regionals and state, you have to really show up."
Iacovetto certainly has shown up this season. The undefeated Iacovetto (currently the state's No. 1-ranked 103-pound wrestler in Class 2A) earned the No. 1 seed heading into the Class 2A regional tournament tonight and Saturday at Grand Junction High School.
The No. 1 seed should help Iacovetto advance through the 16-man brackets filled with some of the state's toughest competition. Six of the state's top 10-ranked 2A teams compete in the Western Region.
Soroco's Dennis Morgan, Joel Schlegel and Levi Gonzales also will be highly seeded this weekend. All three rank in the top 10 in their respective weight classes.
Hayden is not in the top 10 as a team, but coach Ty Zabel is confident his team is peaking at the right time.
"We're finally healthy and we've had a good week of practice, so we're doing pretty good," Zabel said. "We're right where we're supposed to be."
Zabel mentioned four of his wrestlers that are "sitting good" with their seedings for the tournament - Coy Letlow grabbed the No. 3 seed in the 171-pound class, Jake Magee and Mitch Doolin are seeded fourth in their weight classes (160 and 135, respectively) and Zed Wheelock is seeded fifth in the 112-pound class.
Steamboat Springs High School wrestlers headed to Arvada on Thursday afternoon for the Class 4A regional tournament today and Saturday.
Steamboat coach Sean McCarthy said his team is healthy, and he thinks two of his top wrestlers have a good shot at making a podium finish. Topping that list is 135-pounder Houston Mader, who secured a No. 1 seed. Mader goes into the tournament as the Western Region's top-ranked wrestler.
"He's healthy as a bear and has beaten the other four seeds in his weight class," McCarthy said.
McCarthy said Ben DeLine also should "have a good shot," grabbing a No. 6 seed and securing a randomly-drawn first-round bye in the 145-pound class.
McCarthy did not discount the state-qualifying chances of Steamboat's other wrestlers - Derek Morris at 119 pounds, Cody Harris at 171 pounds, and Lane Shipley at 285 pounds.