Joel Reichenberger: Wrestling still strong in county | SteamboatToday.com

Joel Reichenberger: Wrestling still strong in county

— I'm probably not the best advocate for wrestling in Routt County. I didn't wrestle when I was in high school and always have been a basketball kind of guy.

Every so often, someone would suggest I try out on the mat, but even though I didn't actually play basketball past my freshman year, I never took the suggestions seriously.

So I won't write to promote the sport pretending I know much of anything about it. Everything I know I've learned in my nearly five years as a sports journalist. At this point, I am familiar with some moves, know how to score a match and can tell a good high school wrestler from a great one. I can produce wrestling photos that are inappropriate for the newspaper with stunning consistency.

Again, I'm not the best advocate. All I will say is that Thursday night was fun.

On Thursday, I covered a home wrestling meet in Hayden that pitted the Tigers against squads from Soroco, Steamboat Springs and Meeker. A few Moffat County competitors were sprinkled in there, as well.

The stands were packed, and large segments of Hay­den, Oak Creek and Meeker turned out for the performance. And the wrestling was good — competitive matches driven by the roar of the crowd.

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The only sad thing was that this was it in terms of wrestling anywhere near Routt County. Outside of Thursday's action, the closest the local teams have or will come to wrestling at home came in December, when Hayden, Soroco and Steamboat Springs all drove to Kremmling for a meet at West Grand High School.

That's a shame. Like basketball and perhaps more than high school football or soccer, wrestling thrives on the roar of the crowd. Fans are right on top of the action, unlike in football, where they can be 400 or 500 feet away.

It's even more disappointing that these teams don't get more opportunities to clash at home. Steamboat is in its second season without a home tournament, and Soroco hasn't hosted any action in the past two years. Hayden hosts only one event a season and last year did so without Soroco or Steamboat.

There are plenty of excellent local wrestlers, too, who are deserving of that roar.

Hayden proved to be the deepest of the teams Thursday and rolled over the other three squads. The Tigers had a strong showing at state last year and are on track to do the same later this month.

Soroco's much better across the board than it was a year ago. The Rams sent just one wrestler to state last year. Now, I wouldn't be surprised to see four go. Steamboat, meanwhile, has lifted its program from the ashes. Three years ago, there were just two athletes on the team. Last year was a little better. Now, the squad still isn't large, but it's growing, and it's become competitive.

It's just too bad that anyone who missed Thursday's action won't get another chance to see what I'm talking about.