They knew going in that it was likely to be the toughest tournament on the schedule, and for the Steamboat Springs and Hayden high school wrestling teams, the Tournament of Champions in Vernal, Utah, did not disappoint.
Both teams struggled while facing some of the absolute best wrestlers in the region, but coaches for both teams said the experience was a positive one.
“It was a good, tough weekend of wrestling. That’s why we go there,” Steamboat coach Shane Yeager said. “Its a big time tournament, and it’s an experience they needed.”
Steamboat’s top wrestler was senior Connor O’Brien, who placed seventh at 182 pounds. He joined senior Brandon Yeager, at 195, freshman Matthew Hansen at 138 and freshman Dakota Thevdt at 113 in making it to the second day of the two-day event.
Yeager, Hansen and Thevdt all fell one round short of placing.
“They all wrestled well,” Shane Yeager said.
Hayden’s top finish came from 182-pounder Taylor Lewis, who actually lost to O’Brien, but worked his way back through the consolation bracket to finish sixth.
Lewis made the fifth-place match, but lost by a point, sliding to sixth.
“It was a great showing by Taylor,” Hayden coach Chad Jones said. “We only ended up with one placer, but that’s no surprise. Every year we only have a few who even come close to medaling. I was really proud of everyone’s effort. They wrestled hard.”
Tate Montieth and Kent Miller joined Lewis in advancing to Saturday.
Now in the meat of their seasons, there’s not much time to rest for either team, especially Steamboat.
The Sailors are back in action starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday wrestling at home against Rifle and Palisade.
“That will be some great wrestling,” Yeager said.
Hayden returns to the mats Friday and Saturday for action in Rangely.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9