Granby " Three Panther wrestlers will compete at state championship tournament | SkyHiNews.com

Granby " Three Panther wrestlers will compete at state championship tournament

by Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

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Three of Middle Park High’s wrestlers will be giving it their best during the 2008 Colorado High School Wrestling Championships in Denver this week.

Panther senior Rod Garrett and juniors Joe Visconti and Mitch Strang will be competing during the state tournament being held at the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver. The competition starts Thursday and runs through Saturday.

“Three of our wrestlers are advancing to state,” said coach Patrick Jellum. “Their first round on Thursday starts at 3 p.m. and we anticipate that they’ll do well.”

Garrett, Visconti and Strang qualified for the state meet during last Saturday’s regional tournament at Buena Vista. Two of them earned second-place finishes during that daylong competition while the team’s third qualifier took a fourth-place medal.

Wrestling in the 140-pound weight class, Visconti took a runner-up spot after a dominating win in the semifinals and a close loss in the finals.

“Joe won his semifinals match against a very competitive opponent from Gunnison,” Jellum said. “The flow of the match went takedown, reversal, takedown, reversal. But Joe was really in control for the entirety of the match and won it 16-10.”

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While his semifinals went very well, Visconti ended up frustrated in the finals match after the referee’s calls went against him.

“Joe was matched up well against a very aggressive Olathe wrestler,” Jellum said. “But right from the start, things did not go in Joe’s favor. The referee made a controversial call on a takedown in the first period, and that helped put Joe on the ropes a bit. Joe lost it 11-6, but it still sets him up for a good state tournament where he plans to place and possibly do even better.”

Also taking a second-place medal during Saturday’s regionals was Rod Garrett in the 160-pound weight class. He earned the runner-up spot with a 2-1 record for his tournament matches.

“Rod’s two wins were done in strong fashion,” Jellum said. “He really dominated his opponent in the first match. In his second match, he won by a pin that sent him into the finals. It was very rewarding to see this senior make it to state and do it in such a strong way.”

Mitch Strang, Middle Park’s third state qualifier, earned a fourth-place finish at the regionals in the 215-pound weight class. He went 2-2 in his matches, earning his qualification in the consolation match.

“Mitch had a good opening match which he won by a pin,” Jellum said. “In his second match, he was beaten by the eventual champion in his weight class. He won his next match, but then lost the consolation match to take fourth place.”

Along with the three who earned state qualifications, the Panthers also had five other wrestlers competing during the regionals.

“All five of our guys put in good efforts, but we were two or three moves away from a win,” Jellum said. “Some of those matches were so close that they were real heartbreakers.”

Middle Park freshman Brandon Strang went 1-2 during Saturday’s tournament to place fifth in the 103-pound weight class. He finished the 2007-08 season with a record of 15-15.

Wrestling in the 125-pound weight class, Panther freshman Christian Curiel went 2-2 during his regional matches to finish in fifth place. He ended the season with a 15-17 record.

Also placing fifth after going 2-2 at the regionals was 130-pound Shelby Garrett, a sophomore. He finished his season with a 23-16 record.

Middle Park junior Jared Cooper wrestled hard but came away without a win in the 135-pound weight class during Saturday’s tournament. He has a 9-19 season record.

Placing sixth Saturday in the 152-pound weight class was Panther sophomore Nate Birdseye who was 1-2 during the regionals. He earned a 17-18 season record.

“I know it was a letdown for these five not to make it to state, but the positive thing is that they are all underclassmen,” Jellum said. “If they train hard in the off-season, it will pay off for them down the road next year.”

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