Granby " Middle Park wrestlers gather momentum at Conifer tournament |

Granby " Middle Park wrestlers gather momentum at Conifer tournament

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

As their regular season winds down toward the state tournament, Middle Park High’s wrestlers earned some good successes at the Conifer Tournament on Saturday, Jan. 26.

Competing in the 13-team meet, the Panther grapplers took an overall sixth place and second among the 3A division teams present. They also earned four individual medals, including a championship title in one of the 10 weight classes.

“The majority of our kids won at least a match,” said coach Patrick Jellum. “It’s nice to see the positive growth our wrestlers are making and it’s due to their strong conditioning and improving moves. This is very encouraging because we are fast approaching the last stages of this season.”

Middle Park’s champion at the Conifer Tournament was Joe Visconti in the 140-pound weight class. During the daylong competition, he won all three of his matches.

“Joe earned decisive wins in all three matches that he controlled from start to finish,” Jellum said. “In the semifinals and finals matches, he was up against opponents with 20-plus wins so far this season who he’ll probably be seeing again at state. His wrestling style is very solid and he displays a lot of confidence. He was a lot more calm in those matches than his coaches and a lot of the fans.”

Placing third in the meet’s 130-pound weight class was the Panthers’ Shelby Garrett, who won three matches and lost one.

“Shelby wrestled aggressively all day, which is a very good sign at this stage of the season,” Jellum said. “He had two falls, and in his last match, his opponent was not physically able to finish. His only loss was due to a mishap in a move. Shelby is battle tested and ready for the regionals, and wants to make some noise at state.”

Middle Park freshman Christian Curiel took a fourth-place medal in the 125-pound weight class after going 2-2 Saturday.

“Chris faced a really good opponent in his semifinals match,” Jellum said. “He got that kid on his back but he couldn’t keep him there and lost the match. … Both of his wins were by pins.”

Also earning a fourth-place medal was Mitch Strang in the 215-pound weight class who went 2-2 for the meet.

“Mitch was very aggressive, and I’m extremely pleased that he is wrestling like a big guy. That’s going to help him down the road,” Jellum said.

Just missing the medal round with a 3-2 record for Saturday’s meet was Nate Birdseye in the 145-pound weight class.

“Those were three valuable wins for Nate,” Jellum said. “He made a lot of positive moves.”

The Panthers’ Brandon Strang went 2-2 in the 103-pound weight class.

Also going 2-2 was Jared Cooper in the 135-pound weight class. One of his wins was a 4-0 decision over teammate Mitch Steffen.

Middle Park senior Rod Garrett went 1-2 in the highly competitive 160-pound weight class.

“Rod’s win was against an opponent he’s sure to see at the league tournament,” Jellum said. “He kept that wrestler to no points and he controlled the match. In his two other matches, he really challenged his opponents.”

Rounding out the Panthers’ performance at Conifer were Bart Hartley and Chris Hillison, both wrestling in the 189-pound weight class.

With the season now within two weeks of the regional championships, coach Jellum said he is encouraged by the team’s performance at Conifer, which was primarily a 4A division meet.

“Overall, I’m please with our wrestlers’ efforts,” he said. “With the quality of tournaments like this, they are real eye-openers for our kids so that they can see that they can compete at a high level. Hopefully, the energy they displayed at Conifer will carry into the next few weeks.”

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