Prep wrestling continues growth in area
In 2002-03, there will be more prep wrestling to watch in the area than in past seasons.
For the first time, three area high schools will field wrestling teams.
The recently-completed Grand Valley High School campus includes a wrestling room. And, for the first time in school history, the Parachute-based school will field a team.
Fans and interested on-lookers can get their first glimpse at the Cardinals in their new home nest Jan. 24 when they host North Park.
Perennial 4A powerhouse Rifle has some attractive dual meets with Meeker and Moffat County on its home schedule along with the annual 12-team Rifle Invitational in late January.
Basalt opens the 2002-03 with a dual meet at home against Eagle Valley on Dec. 5.
Grand Valley also begins its season on Dec. 5 in a trianglar meet at Battle Mountain High School in Gypsum.
Below are previews of each of the three area wrestling teams.
Hit hard by graduation, the Bear lineup will be different than those of the recent past, but is fortified with three returning state qualifiers to this year’s team.
Anthony Alfini, who won 5th place at the state meet last year at 189 pounds, has dropped down a weight class to 171 this season. The move should benefit the Bear senior, who posted a 33-9 win-loss record in 2001-02, in a season-long shuttling between the 171 and 189 pound divisions.
Jesse Long, Rifle’s other returning state medalist, has gone the other route. Long, a junior, has moved up to 160 from the 145-pound ranks.
Cody Ward, the Bears’ other returning state qualifier from last year’s team has bulked up from 112 to 145 pounds this year.
“Those guys makes us real solid with state experience,” said coach Jim Suminski. “But, we have some seniors who wrestled JV for several years who are ready to step up.”
Former JV wrestler Craig Gose has been penciled in as Rifle’s 140 pounder. Kye Hunter, has inherited the role as the Bears’ heavyweight (275 pound) grappler. Nick Worley will see action at 189 pounds and Kalvin Deere will be used at either 152 or 160-pound division.
Suminski said, “Most of them didn’t have a chance to wrestle too much with the varsity last year, but when they did very well”.
Other seniors Suminski is counting on for big years include his son David, who returns at 135, and Tony Allen, who returned to the sport after a number of years.
Allen, a starting lineman on the football team, will wrestle at 215 pounds, said Suminski.
The lighter weights will be filled by underclassmen.
After gaining 10 pounds and experience, sophomore Eddie Kreimeier will again wrestle at 103 pounds – the lightest of the 14 competitive weights. Two freshmen, Luke Wooten and Garrett Burner, will battle for the starting spot at 112. Tyson Thompson, a sophomore, gets the early nod at 119.
Junior Rodney Long will be challenged by freshman Tim Scott for the 125-pound slot.
Fortified with students from Glenwood Springs and Roaring Fork high schools, along with an infusion of freshmen, fifth-year coach Rob Grumley has a program-high 17 wrestlers on to work with.
“I’m really happy with the turnout we’ve had,” said Grumley. “We’re starting to see results from the pee-wee wrestling program. The kids are starting to surface now at the high school and they understand what wrestling’s all about.”
Grumley and the Longhorns will turn to three seniors for leadership.
Glenwood Springs student Cody Brickell, who wrestles for Basalt because his school does not field a team, will perform at either 152 or 160 pounds. Dustin Held will settle in at 160 or 171. And Grumley said that Derrick McFarlind will wrestle at 135 or 140 pounds.
Juniors contesting for starting berths include Chris Black, who will wrestle at 125 or 130 pounds, Caleb Nye (145 or 152), and Cody Hanson (140 or 145). Garrett Jammaron, who attends Roaring Fork High, has earned the starting nod at 171.
Other newcomers include Glenwood student Michael Hoban, Jake Bowman from Roaring Fork and Basalt freshmen Zack Southward, Trevor O’Link, Rob Jeffery and Michael Mastriani.
Basalt also features the only girl on its varsity roster in sophomore Ashley Anderson.
Anderson is the first girl, according to Grumley, to tryout for the school’s wrestling team.
The coach said he plans to start Anderson out slowly.
“This is her first year wrestling, so we may not wrestle her in the early meets,” Grumley said. “We’ll monitor Ashley through the year, and she how does in practice.”
“I see a future in wrestling in Parachute,” said Cardinal coach Rick Gallegos when he opened the doors to the wrestling room for practice two weeks ago.
Gallegos, who has coached wrestling teams in Parachute at the pee-wee and middle school levels for a number of years, has 16 wrestlers on the team.
“Everyone was real surprised to have 16 wrestlers on the team the first year,” Gallegos said of the initial turnout. “We have a lot of new guys to the sport, but they have the same attitude that I have. In a couple of years, we’ll be hot dogs on the mat.”
And success could come ever quicker for a couple of Grand Valley’s wrestlers.
Freshman Justin Busch has been wrestling for Gallegos for seven years, and brings some impressive credentials with him as he begins his high school career.
Last year, as an 8th grader at St. John Middle School, Busch was the PEG League 120-pound champion, and concluded an undefeateed 23-0 season as the Warrior Classic and Colorado AAU state champion at his weight.
Brothers Chanse and Cash Brackett, who attend DeBeque High School, also wrestled for Gallegos at the pee-wee level. They will wrestle at 152 and 160 pounds, respectively.
Transfer student Justin Schroeder, a freshman from Kansas, has also seen previous time on the mat, and is scheduled to wrestle at 119 pounds.
Additional help comes from senior Kenney Godlewski, junior Jesse Neely and sophomore Matt Morgan.
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