‘It was a good weekend for Middle Park wrestling’ | SkyHiNews.com

‘It was a good weekend for Middle Park wrestling’

by Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

Middle Park High wrestlers flexed their muscles last weekend, taking top team places in two meets.

The Panther grapplers won last Friday’s dual meet with Sheridan on their home mat at Middle Park High School. On Saturday, they earned an overall third place at the West Grand Invitational held in Kremmling.

“It was a good weekend for Middle Park wrestling,” said Coach Patrick Jellum.

Last weekend’s competition was the first for the Panthers in two weeks after the previous weekend’s Buena Vista Dual Tournament was canceled due to bad weather.

Dual with Sheridan

In Friday’s dual, the Middle Park matmen took on a tough Sheridan team. When the dust cleared, the Panthers came out ahead in the number of individual match wins.

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“We’ve been good old rivals with Sheridan for a long time,” Jellum said. “Sheridan is a highly respected team and has a number-one ranked wrestler in its lineup. The dual was a good test of our mettle.”

Match wins were earned by Shelby Garrett, Joe Visconti, Nathan Birdseye and Mitch Strang. Coach Jellum was especially pleased with the victories won by two freshman wrestlers Brandon Strang at 103 pounds and Tim Satterfiel at 215 pounds. A strong first performance was turned in by freshman Christian Curiel.

“It was a nice test for our wrestlers. We matched up well against Sheridan,” Jellum said.

Battle in Kremmling

Friday’s dual was only a warmup for Saturday’s big competition in Kremmling. The West Grand Invitational featured 19 teams in a day-long battle.

“We earned a third place in the team results,” Jellum said. “All of our wrestlers had a good day of competition and found out things they need to work on. It was a good way to go into the Christmas break.”

Six of the Panther wrestlers earned places in Saturday’s tournament. All gained valuable experience to prepare themselves for the rest of the season in 2008.

In the 103-pound weight class, Brandon Strang earned a third-place finish after going 4-1 in matches during the tournament.

“In the one match he lost, Brandon wrestled well,” Jellum said. “And in the four he won, he dominated. He has a lot of tenacity and is learning good technique. I think he’s going to surprise some people later this season.”

Panther freshman Christian Curiel went 2-2 in the 125-pound weight class.

“Chris had two really good victories and just missed the medal round,” Jellum said.

“In one match, he dominated a senior, showing a great deal of control and balance in his wrestling. He is fearless in making his moves.”

At 130 pounds, Jared Cooper also went 2-2 Saturday.

“Jared had two dominating performances,” Jellum said. “In his losses, he showed he needs more power in his moves. As he builds up his strength this season, good things will happen down the stretch.”

Middle Park’s Shelby Garrett earned a second-place in the tournament, going 2-1 in the 135-pound weight class.

“Shelby had a great semifinals match where he was tactically correct and got the pin,” Jellum said. “In the finals, he met a highly talented opponent, but learned from that match.”

Wrestling at 135 pounds in the open class, Mitch Steffen lost in two matches.

“Mitch got placed in a tough bracket, but had a great first round match,” Jellum said.

“He did not get a win, but made some good moves.”

Normally competing at 130 pounds, Joe Visconti accepted the challenge of wrestling in the tournament’s 140-pound weight class, which had five ranked wrestlers. Going 1-1 for the day, he took second place.

“In his first match, he stunned a Steamboat Springs wrestlers who was ranked third in the 4A division,” Jellum said. “Joe was down 3-1 with 25 seconds left in the third period when he does a power stand-up to clear. He then melded two moves fantastically that we’ve been working on in practice, ducked under and made a perfect takedown with three seconds left to win the match 4-3.”

At 152 pounds, Nathan Birdseye went 2-2 with his second loss due to an injury default after he badly twisted his knee.

“That was a real downer, but hopefully Nathan will be back in January,” Jellum said.

“He was having a good day up to that point, including earning a victory over Eric Scholl of West Grand. We knew how tough Eric is from a summer wrestling camp that we had together. Nathan really had to step up to win against him.”

Wrestling in the 152-pound open class, Panther novice wrestler Josiah Parker gained valuable experience in his two matches.

“Josiah is a hard worker and his learning curve definitely went up during what was his first tournament,” Jellum said.

Jake Finch wrestled hard in the tournament’s 160-pound weight class, going 1-2 for the day.

“Jake is really developing his wrestling skills and had some success,” Jellum said. “He is learning to make the right moves at the right time.”

Panther senior Rod Garrett earned a second place in the 171-pound weight class Saturday.

“Rod is our senior leader and his battle into the finals was a pleasant surprise,” Jellum said. “He hit some good moves and was relentless in his matches. He qualified for state two years ago and he is now making strides to do it again.”

Earning a fourth place in the 215-pound category was the Panthers’ Mitch Strang. He went 3-2 in his matches.

“Mitch wrestled in a highly competitive field and his two losses were to ranked opponents,” Jellum said. “He was making some good big-man moves and was impressive to watch.”

Also earning a fourth-place finish was Tim Satterfiel in the heavyweight class.

“Tim is only 205 pounds, but I was really impressed by his performance against those big boys,” Jellum said. “He has a lot of self-confidence, but he’s willing to listen and learn.”

With the holiday break about to begin, Coach Jellum said his wrestlers have to stay focused on their goals, especially because they will be returning to action even before the break officially ends. On Jan. 5, Middle Park’s matmen will be competing in the Eagle Valley Tournament.

“Over the break, our wrestlers know what they have to do to improve,” he said. “The Eagle Valley meet is always very tough with a great lineup of top wrestlers. We’re looking forward to seeing what we can do there.”

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