Hayden plays host to Thursday's wrestling quad

Soroco, Steamboat, Meeker join Tigers

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2011-12 Tigers wrestling schedule

— Options to watch local high school wrestling teams have been few and far between in recent years, but Routt County fans are going to get their fill this season, each of the three area squads competing in the county at least twice.

So when Steamboat Springs and Soroco teams travel with Meeker to compete starting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in a quadrangular at Hayden, they’ll do so concerned about much more than the novelty of a home-mat advantage.

“We’re getting down to the time of the year when head-to-head matches really matter,” Soroco coach Jay Whaley said. “The regional tournament is seeded off of head-to-head, and we’re going to be seeing a lot of regional teams. Any time we can pick up that last win, it helps us a lot.”

That won’t mean quite as much to the Sailors, the only Class 4A school in the bunch. The matches still will count for the athlete’s overall records, which are important for post-season seeding, but the head-to-head concerns aren’t there.

To Hayden, Meeker and Soroco, though, this is the gritty portion of the season. Performances at next month’s regional tournament, set for Feb. 10 and 11 in Grand Junction, will decide who goes to state, but locking up a favorable seed in that tournament could be a big leg up.

Thursday’s action gives the Rams and Tigers a chance against Meeker. Another in-county meet, a Steamboat, Soroco and Hayden triangular set for next week in Oak Creek, will give Hayden and Soroco another chance to jockey for position.

Key matches between the Tigers and the Rams will come at 106 pounds, where Soroco senior Lauryn Bruggink will be battling to position herself for a third trip to the state tournament, and at 113 pounds, where Hayden’s Kent Miller has reigned. Steamboat junior Nathan Parks at 120 pounds and Hayden junior T-Lane Mazzola at 126 pounds also have been strong.

Steamboat’s Brandon Yeager, at 182 pounds, and Soroco’s Dillon Koler, at 132, are coming off their best performances of the season. Soroco’s Tristan Palyo will have elite competition at 145 pounds in Hayden senior and three-time state medalist Chad Terry. Hayden’s Nick Williams, at 138 pounds, and Steamboat’s Casey Williams, at 152, meanwhile, should be among the day’s best competitors.

No matter the opponent, coaches said this is the time of year for the athletes to prove they belong.

“You always are trying to win, but it’s pretty critical,” Whaley said.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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