Unexpected journey lands Soroco senior at state wrestling championships | SteamboatToday.com

Unexpected journey lands Soroco senior at state wrestling championships

Soroco High School Rams

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The last place Soroco High School senior Erik Shafer expected to be this week was on a wrestling mat, surrounded by thousands of screaming fans, inside the Pepsi Center.

"I'm really excited," Shafer said. "If someone had told me a year ago that I as going to be a wrestler, I would never have believed them. If someone had told me two months ago that I was going to go to state, I would not have believed them. But here I am, and I'm going to state."

Shafer will be one of three Soroco wrestlers who will take the mat when the Colorado State High School Championships open in Denver on Thursday afternoon. The event will continue on Friday and come to a close with the finals Saturday evening.

Shafer, who had never wrestled before this season, joined the team after coach Jay Whaley started pestering him about it shortly after the end of football season.

"The season had already started," Shafer said. "But then finally, I went and watched my girlfriend's little brother wrestle, and it looked like a lot of fun."

After the meet, Shafer talked with Whaley and joined the team shortly before the school's holiday break. He entered his first high school match with two moves in his arsenal, and he used both of them to pin his opponent in his very first match.

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"My first goal was to win a match, my second was to win two matches in a tournament, and my third goal, one that I made when the season was almost over, was to go to state," Shafer said, "So now, I have to make a new goal, and I might as well shoot for the stars and go win it all."

His coach also has high hopes for his recruit.

"He came in and learned the basics, and the basics are all you need at heavy weight to win a few matches and to be successful," Whaley said.

Shafer went 10-16 this year, but more importantly, he survived Region 1, placing fourth in one of the most competitive regionals in the state for the 2A classification.

"It's one of those things," Shafer said. "When you start wrestling, your first win hooks you. When you win, you never want to stop winning. Every loss tears you down, but you look back and think I need to get better. I know that I can get better."

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.