Steamboat Springs As Soroco High School wrestling coach Jay Whaley stood in the middle of the Rams gymnasium on Saturday afternoon, he was asked how wrestling programs can grow in Routt County.
“I don’t know what the answer is,” Whaley said. “I hope what we did here was good for the sport of wrestling and good for the county.”
Events like Saturday’s tournament in Oak Creek, where a few teams including Hayden and Soroco as well as several Steamboat Springs wrestlers all showed up, certainly will help.
It wasn’t long ago that tournaments like Saturday’s were the norm on the Western Slope. But those days have largely disappeared. Bringing them back could be key to the sport’s local future.
Whaley said meets like Saturday’s serve multiple purposes. For one, they allow wrestlers in the area to compete close to home. They also provide a venue for children to see the sport and possibly develop an interest in it.
“When you get a ninth-grader and they’ve never seen a wrestling match in their life, it’s tough,” he said. “Sometimes we send our kids that aren’t ready to these really big tournaments because that’s all we have left. Last week, we were at a tournament with a 32-man bracket. If a kid goes 0-2 and has to sit there the rest of the day, it’s tough.”
At Saturday’s meet, wrestlers from each school notched several top finishes.
Hayden got wins from Kent Miller at 113 pounds, T-Lane Mazzola at 126 pounds and Ryan Domson at 170 pounds. Also placing for Hayden were Kaiden Decker (fourth at 120), Tyler Panton (third at 138) and Nick DeLuca (third at 160).
Soroco got a second-place finish from Lauryn Bruggink at 106 pounds, a third-place finish from Colton Martindale at 113 pounds and a fourth-place finish from Cody Constine at 182 pounds.
Steamboat’s Tate Monteith was third at 120 pounds, Dylan Wallace was third at 170 pounds and Chris Harris was fifth at 182 pounds.
“I want to win a state championship just like every other year,” said Bruggink, who lost in the finals, 4-3, to Meeker’s Tristan Pelloni. “I want to be the hardest-working kid in the state.
“It’s nice to have a home meet. Most people don’t understand the magnitude of things until they see it. This helped people understand what we do every weekend.”
Hopefully, as Whaley put it, events like Saturday’s don’t ever become a thing of the past. Instead, Whaley hopes events like Saturday’s continue to grow the sport in the area.
“It was good for this area to have a tournament again,” he said. “It’s important to the sport.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com