Sailors wrestlers return to action

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— The holiday break was particularly tough for Steamboat Springs High School senior wrestler Houston Mader.

Mader, who along with sophomore Derek Morris give the Sailors two legitimate chances to place at state, lost his last match before the break in West Grand. It was something new to Mader, who up to that point had dominated his competition while remaining undefeated.

"It left a bad taste in my mouth, definitely," Mader said before Thursday's practice. "I've lost once and I don't want to lose again."

Mader gets his first chance to return to his winning ways at 9 a.m. today when Steamboat travels to Eagle Valley for a wrestling meet.

The tournament is known for its competitive fields and will give the two Steamboat wrestlers a first glimpse at a lot of the competition in their region.

Teams like Rifle, Conifer and Eagle Valley - all top teams from Steamboat's region - are expected to compete.

While the tournament is expected to give Mader a chance at redemption, it also might decide where Morris eventually ends up wrestling.

The sophomore, who went undefeated at 135 pounds before the break, said he'll decide today whether to drop down and wrestle at 130 pounds.

"We'll see a lot of regional opponents," Morris said, noting that if he decides to stay at 135 pounds he'll have to get bigger because CHSAA allows for a two-pound allowance after the holiday break. "That's why I'm going to see who is at 135 and see what the competition is like."

With eight tournaments left before the regional meet Feb. 15 and 16 in Moffat County, Mader and Morris said the rest of the work done this season will be posturing to get a top seed in regionals.

For Mader, the road to state may have just gotten a little easier. The top two wrestlers at 140 pounds - both of whom are in Mader's region - suffered serious injuries before the break.

Still, Mader - who has been ranked in the top five at various points this season - said today is the beginning of the real season for Steamboat.

"I pretty much don't want to lose again," Mader said. "You just have to work hard so you don't lose again."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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