If you go
What: Steamboat Springs Junior High wrestling tournament
When: 9 a.m. Saturday
Where: Steamboat Springs High School
Cost: $6 for adults, $3 for students
Steamboat Springs As Steamboat Springs junior high wrestling coach Shane Yeager tries to rebuild the high school program, tournaments like Saturday's make him hopeful.
Steamboat is set to host the season-ending junior high wrestling tournament at 9 a.m. Saturday at the high school. The tournament should run until about 3 p.m. The cost is $6 for adults and $3 for students. The pee-wee team concludes its season at 6 p.m. Friday at the high school. Admission is free.
For Yeager - who also coaches the high school program - this tournament is validation that wrestling in Steamboat is still strong.
"It's (a) pretty critical time," Yeager said. "I've been building this team for a while. The junior high kids are kids that can compete. Combine them with five or six kids at the high school, and it's pretty exciting. We're going to be able to build it back."
Yeager's junior high team of wrestlers in sixth through eighth grades is not affiliated with Steamboat Springs Middle School.
Eight teams and more than 100 wrestlers are expected to compete Saturday. Although the competition will be tough, it won't necessarily be the best around. With the junior high regional tournament taking place in Grand Junction, a lot of the top wrestlers will be gone.
Soroco junior high coach Jay Whaley said because of the regional tournament and because South Routt schools are on spring break, he wasn't even sure whether the Soroco team - not affiliated with Soroco Middle School - would have a wrestler at the meet. Hayden is expected to field a team for the tournament in Steamboat as well as send multiple wrestlers to Grand Junction.
Still, the tournament will provide one last competition for a lot of wrestlers.
"I want to come away with first and try my best," said eighth-grader Dane Koepfer. "It's going to take endurance and working hard. It would mean a lot to win just to show for Steamboat and as a personal goal, as well."
Yeager said he expects 15 Steamboat wrestlers to compete and said the goal is to win after a third-place finish in Soroco and second-place finish in East Grand.
"It'll be a great tournament," Yeager said. "It's a great one to end on. While not everybody will be there, it'll still be a great tournament."