Wrestling season begins to take hold
Post Independent Staff
Seven state preseason top-ten picks, one new school and two new head coaches are what stand out for the area’s budding 2005-06 wrestling season.
Rifle, headed by former assistant coach John Wisniewski, has drawn the most attention in the preseason statewide “On the Mat” rankings.
The Bears entered the year No. 8 in the Class 4A team poll. League rivals Eagle Valley and Moffat County are also among Colorado’s top teams, at Nos. 5 and 6, respectively.
Rifle has three wrestlers on the roster this year who competed at last year’s state championship.
That group is headed by Luke Wooten, the 2004-05 Class 4A, 125-pound state champion. The Bears senior, according to the pre-season poll, has earned the top spot at 135 pounds.
Juniors Tyler Thompson and Timmy Long are part of a host of football players expected to join team workouts later this week.
Long, a fourth-place state finisher at 135 pounds last season, is ranked No. 3 among 4A 145-pounders. Thompson, who earned a spot in last year’s state tournament at 130, has been ranked sixth at 140 pounds.
Glenwood Springs, in its second year of fielding a team since reviving the program, has 28 wrestlers in the practice room, said head coach Guy Brickell.
The Demons, once again, will be shuttling athletes between the junior varsity and varsity levels throughout the year.
Those slated for varsity time include former state qualifier Mike Zerfoss at heavyweight, senior Michael Mastroianni and sophomore Blake Newby.
At Saturday’s opener in Steamboat Springs, the Demons finished second as a team at the Carl Ramunno Invitational Tournament. Individually, Zerfoss and Mastroianni won tournament champion honors at heavyweight and 160 pounds, respectively.
Other promising wrestlers include sophomores Nick Croissant (171 pounds), Tyler Rossow (189) along with two freshmen ” Bryce Faulkner (130) and Hunter McCallum (135).
In their fourth year of fielding a team, Grand Valley has established themselves as a force to contend with in Class 2A.
Three Cardinals wrestlers have made their way on to the classification’s preseason top ten.
2004-05 state qualifier Cody Miles is No. 5 among 2A 135-pounders. Senior Justin Busch earned the same position at 152. Teammate Danny Manzaneras, a junior, earned the No. 7 ranking at 140 pounds.
Coal Ridge, under the direction of former Basalt head coach Rob Grumley, opens its inaugural season with 11 wrestlers.
“A lot of them wrestled tough,” Grumley said. “That’s what I wanted to see because we are very young, but so far I’m pleased with the effort.”
Coal Ridge, who school’s enrollment consists exclusively of freshmen and sophomores, has nine freshmen and two sophomores.
“We’re pretty split,” said Grumley, referring to levels the Titans will wrestle in.
Grumley is still trying to figure out how the 2005-06 roster is going to shape up. Yet, a few have come forward and done well in Coal Ridge’s first taste of competition.
In a JV tournament in Montrose Saturday, three Titans placed, Grumley said.
Travis McCain, a sophomore, took second place at 152 pounds in Montrose, and should slip in at 145 at March’s 2A Regional tournament.
Freshmen Michael Larson and Kevin Laidlaw earned fourth place tournament medals at 130 and 152 pounds, respectively.
Coal Ridge, Glenwood and Battle Mountain will compete in a triangular meet Wednesday at GSHS’ Chavez-Spencer gymnasium. The Demons also travel to Buena Vista Saturday.
Rifle is scheduled to participate at the Delta Triangular at 6 p.m. tonight at Delta High School. Grand Valley hosts Cedaredge for a dual meet Thursday in Parachute, then concludes the week’s action Saturday at the Delta Invitational.
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The 4A state softball playoffs ended for the Rifle Lady Bears Saturday with a pair of shutout losses to Elizabeth 10-0 and Roosevelt 8-0 in the regional round at Johnstown.