Granby " Two Panther wrestlers place at competitive invitational | SkyHiNews.com

Granby " Two Panther wrestlers place at competitive invitational

Will Bublitz
wbublitz@skyhidailynews.com
Grand County, Colorado

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

Granby, Colorado ” The Panther wrestling season opened at home Saturday, Dec. 6, with the Middle Park grapplers hosting 22 teams and more than 250 wrestlers during the 2008 Middle Park Invitational.

“This tournament was a monster,” said Coach Cal Cherrington. “We only had seven of our wrestlers, but they all did well. I thought our conditioning level was good, but our technique still needs work. We ended up with two placers.”

The Panthers’ top placer in Saturday’s home meet was Joe Visconti, the team’s two-time state medalist. He took the runner-up spot in the 135-pound weight class.

“Joe had a great finals match, only losing it in overtime,” Cherrington said.

On the way to the finals, Visconti picked up three victories in the preliminary matches. He won two of them by falls and one by a decision.

Entering the finals, Visconti was pitted against Tyler Rios of Lakewood. During the first period, neither wrestler scored any points, but that changed in the second period with the referee awarding Rios a point on a stalling call against Visconti.

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“In the third period, Joe went ahead 2-1 with a reversal,” Cherrington said. “Then just before the end, the referee gives Rios another point on another stalling call.”

The tied score forced the match into overtime. Visconti continued to attack, but made a mistake that cost him.

“Joe made a great shot at Rios, but Rios countered him and took him right to his back to win it 6-2,” Cherrington said. “It was a good learning experience for Joe. Both of these wrestlers will do very well this season.”

Middle Park’s other placer in the meet was 103-pound Brandon Strang, who won three matches and lost two.

“Brandon won his first match in overtime against a Louis Palmer wrestler,” Cherrington said. “He won it 7-5 with a takedown. Nobody has a bigger heart than Brandon.”

In the semifinals, Strang fell to a larger opponent from Pueblo South. He then bounced back to beat the same Louis Palmer wrestler a second time 4-2 in his final match with a reversal in the final 15 seconds of the third period.

Also earning three wins and two losses Saturday was Mitch Strang wrestling at 215 pounds.

“Mitch was just short of medaling,” Cherrington said. “He made a couple of mistakes that we can correct. Mitch was a state qualifier last year and will be a force before this season is over.”

Wrestling at 145 pounds for Middle Park was Mitch Steffen who went 2-2 during the season-opener’s matches.

“Mitch was very competitive in all of his matches,” Cherrington said. “He’s ready to take the next step in his wrestling.”

Nathan Birdseye wrestled tough in the 152-pound weight class, where he won one match and lost two.

“All three of Nathan’s matches were nailbiters that could have gone either way and ended in decisions,” Cherrington said. “He’s got to eliminate some mistakes. When he does, he will be pretty tough.”

Also going 1-2 in his matches was freshman Brian Macchione in the 189-pound class.

“It’s always tricky for a freshman to be wrestling at 189 because all the other wrestlers are older, bur Brian is very competitive,” Cherrington said. “I think he will have a good season if he continues to work hard.”

Rounding out the team’s results was senior Jesse Johnson who lost both of his 160-pound matches.

On Saturday, the Panther varsity will be wrestling at Louis Palmer High School in Monument while the team’s junior varsity will compete in a competition at Dakota Ridge.

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