Sailors starting strong

Wrestlers host tourney Saturday

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Past Event

Carl Ramunno Invitational

  • Saturday, December 1, 2007, 8:30 a.m.
  • Steamboat Springs High School, 45 Maple St., Steamboat Springs
  • All ages / $2 - $5

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Peewee wrestling finals Sunday

The wrestling will not end Saturday. On Sunday, more than 200 youth wrestlers (K-8) will take to the Steamboat Springs High School mats for the Intermountain Wrestling League finals. The finals will bring together seven youth wrestling program teams from Routt, Moffat, Lake, Summit, Grand and Eagle counties. This will be the fifth tournament of the season for the Steamboat Wolfpack Wrestling Club, and coach Shane Yeager thinks his peewee wrestlers (who number about 30) are peaking at the right time.

"The last two weeks have been our best practices of the year. The kids have come a long way, and this will be a highlight to a progressive year," said Yeager, who sees the timing of the fall league as especially beneficial for the older youth members who will begin wrestling in the middle school spring league starting in February. "It's like they get two years of experience in one season : this is the future of wrestling."

Yeager said the tournament, which will include prize raffles and concessions, should run from 9:30 a.m. to noon.

— Steamboat Springs wrestling fans don't have many opportunities to watch a pair of Sailors who may have the next best shot at bringing their high school a state title.

With a handful of tentative dual matches on the Steamboat wrestling radar, the Sailors have only one more confirmed match (the Feb. 2 Routt County Showdown) after tomorrow's Carl Ramunno Invitational.

The annual invitational tournament is a tribute to the late Carl Ramunno, Steamboat's wrestling coach from 1956 to 1987 - a tenure in which the coaching legend, a 2005 inductee to the National High School Athletic Coaches Association's Hall of Fame, led the Sailors to six team state titles and 27 individual state titles.

With the recent passing of Ramunno's wife, Marilyn, Steamboat wrestling coach Sean McCarthy said this would be the first year without Carl or his wife in attendance, and, accordingly, the wrestlers will honor the Ramunnos before kicking off tournament matches Saturday morning.

"This a great chance for wrestling enthusiasts to come out and see the local wrestlers, including Houston (Mader), who's looking like a favorite for a state championship," McCarthy said of the invitational tournament, which runs from 8:30 a.m. into the early afternoon Saturday at the Kelly Meek Gymnasium.

The round-robin format tournament will feature five teams, including Steamboat, Soroco, West Grand, Saratoga (Wyo.) and Moffat County's junior varsity squad.

Last year's Carl Ramunno team champion, Hayden, and participant North Park opted to attend a tournament at Middle Park. Last year's runner-up, Rangely, also will be out this year with some key injuries, McCarthy said.

Sophomore Steamboat wrestler Derek Morris has not forgotten his introduction to high school wrestling last year at the invitational. Morris advanced to the 119-pound finals, only to take second in a tight championship match. After a summer spent on a traveling freestyle wrestling squad with a handful of Hayden wrestlers, he's determined to improve his opening showing wrestling at 135 pounds.

"I want to win it," Morris said at Thursday's practice, wiping some blood off his lip. "I'm definitely better, but with the different weight classes, I'll be facing different guys that may also be better, so it will be a test of wills."

McCarthy said Morris and Mader, likely to be locked in at 140 pounds for the season, have been working hard and are now "looking unbelievable."

With limited numbers, focus and intensity in practice have not been a problem for the talented duo.

"It's almost easier (to focus) without a big team," Mader said. "With three coaches and two wrestlers, you can't get away with anything."

Now, Mader is ready to start his season where he left off - earning a Class 4A fourth-place state title as a 135-pounder.

"I think about some of the other kids that are back, and I use it for motivation," Mader said. "I've got to work harder than last year. I'm working for a state championship this year."

- To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253

or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com

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