Granby " Middle Park matmen roll at regional tourney, set sights on state | SkyHiNews.com

Granby " Middle Park matmen roll at regional tourney, set sights on state

Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

Small in numbers but strong in ability and spirit, Middle Park High’s wrestlers battled to a third-place trophy during the Frontier League Championships at Bennett High School on Saturday, Feb. 9.

The Panthers earned third place despite having only seven wrestlers who could compete in the 13 weight-class tournament. Ten teams competed in the championships.

“We had the opportunity to win the league title with only those seven guys, but we came up short by 12 points,” said coach Patrick Jellum. “But it was still quite an accomplishment for us to do so well against all those other teams.”

Holy Family won the league title. The host team Bennett was runner-up.

“We put six of our seven wrestlers in the championship finals,” Jellum said. That was more than any other team there. We needed four champions to have won the league title.”

When the finals ended, the Panthers came way with two individual league champions ” Shelby Garrett and Mitch Strang.

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Wrestling at 130 pounds, Garrett won all three of his matches.

“Shelby had a dominating performance Saturday and was definitely the star of his weight class,” Jellum said. “He had strong moves and had great control in his matches. I think he’s really prepared for the regional tournament.”

Jellum also praised Strang’s performance at in the 215-pound weight class. He beat both of his opponents by pins to secure the title.

“Mitch was not long on the mat,” he said. “He finished his two matches fast and furious.”

Four of the Panthers earned runner-up spots in the tournament’s weight classes.

Taking a second place in the 103-pound class was Brandon Strang who went 2-1 in his tournament matches.

“Brandon started his finals match with a good takedown, but then misjudged his opponent and got caught and couldn’t escape,” Jellum said. “He wrestled strongly in all of his matches.”

Jared Cooper was the runner-up in the 135-pound weight class after going 2-1 in his matches.

“Jared had a great semifinals match that was a real rollercoaster ride,” Jellum said.

“First, he was up, then his opponent was on top. Finally, Jared pinned him to win it. He was also very competitive in his finals match.”

Placing second in the 140-pound class was the Panthers’ Joe Visconti who also went 2-1 Saturday.

“In the finals, Joe lost 4-3 to a good Bennett wrestler,” Jellum said. “He lost a couple of opportunities to win the match because the calls we were expecting from the referee didn’t come. Joe will be ready for the regionals this weekend.”

Middle Park’s fourth runner-up of the league championships was Nate Birdseye who went 2-1 for his matches in the 152-pound weight class.

“Nate had a great semifinals match where he made a takedown to win and qualify for the finals,” Jellum said. “In the championship match, he went up against the third-ranked wrestler in the division. He lost the match but made two takedowns which speaks volumes for him.”

The seventh man for Middle Park at Bennett was Rod Garrett who earned a third-place medal in the 160-pound weight class after going 2-2 in his tournament matches.

“Rod had a really good match to win third place,” Jellum said. “He scored a convincing win by a pin. As a senior, it was a great way to end his high school wrestling career by earning an All-Conference Honorable Mention for that third place.”

Although they would have liked to have won the top spot in the league, Jellum said he was still pleased with the results.

“We had a strong showing for the numbers we had,” he said. “We came up just a little short. But these seven guys, plus our eighth wrestler Christian Curiel, we will be competing this weekend at the regionals.”

The Panther grapplers will be wrestling against nine other teams at the regionals in Buena Vista. The competition starts at 5:30 p.m. Friday with the finals set for 4 p.m. Saturday.

The regional championships is where wrestlers qualify for the 2008 Colorado High School State Wrestling Championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver from Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 21-23. The top four placers at this weekend’s regionals qualify.

“All eight of our guys have a legitimate shot to qualify for the state championships,” Jellum said. “Our goal is to take all eight to state.”

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