'The stage is set'

Steamboat wrestlers find success with regionals on radar

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— Steamboat Springs wrestling coach Sean McCarthy thought his team gained invaluable experience at a tournament in Conifer on Saturday. The nine-team tournament featured four key regional opponents Steamboat will likely face if it hopes to advance through the regional match, Feb. 9 to 10 at Ralston Valley.

Houston Mader advanced through his eight-man, 135-pound bracket to meet Conifer's Travis Stickney in a semifinal rematch of the pair's regional wrestleback matchup last year. Mader scored five consecutive points in the final 50 seconds of the match to win what was deadlocked at a 1-1 tie.

"They had a raucous home crowd that was cheering with every twist and turn," McCarthy said of the exciting match.

Mader then cruised to victory in the championship match against Evergreen's Trevor Lenz.

Steamboat's Ben DeLine also wrestled his way into a championship match in the 145-pound class. Unfortunately, although DeLine had beaten him in the past, he fell 7-5 to Conifer's Mike Vaggalis in a close match.

Steamboat's Lane Shipley wrestled what McCarthy called a couple of "tough highly-ranked" opponents, but failed to advance in his 285-pound bracket.

Coming off a Thursday tri-match with Palisade and Eagle Valley - one that was highlighted by a pair of Mader wins - McCarthy thought his wrestlers were poised well for their "final push" of matches heading into regionals.

"We've sized up the competition and picked up on a lot of their habits," McCarthy optimistically said of Steamboat's foreseen regional matchups. "Our guys who are building to this postseason are uniquely prepared for a strong run. The stage is set - it's just a matter of execution."

Steamboat heads to a tri-match in Glenwood Springs with Rifle on Thursday.

- To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253

or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com

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