Granby: Middle Park wrestlers give it their all at state championships
Sky-Hi Daily News
Middle Park High’s trio of wrestlers battled to the best of their abilities during the 2008 Colorado High School Wrestling Championships in Denver last week.
Three Panther grapplers ” senior Rod Garrett and juniors Joe Visconti and Mitch Strang ” qualified and competed in the state meet Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 21-23. The state tournament was at the Pepsi Center.
In the final results, Middle Park had one medalist. Visconti earned a sixth-place in his weight class.
“Joe also earned sixth place in last year’s state meet,” said coach Patrick Jellum.
“This is the first time since 2002 that one of our wrestlers has won consecutive medals at the state meets.”
Jellum also praised Garrett’s and Strang’s performances during the state championships.
“Both of them earned match victories at the state tournament, which is a very positive thing and speaks volumes for them,” he said. “There are many talented wrestlers who qualify for state but don’t win a match there. To win there is always quite an accomplishment.”
Visconti’s sixth-place medal was earned in the highly competitive 140-pound weight class.
“Joe’s first-round match was one of the better and most exciting ones of the class,” Jellum said. “In the third period, Joe’s plan was to give up a takedown and then work for an escape. The takedown took place with less than 12 seconds left. As soon as it happened, Joe made a reversal and scored two points to win it with only two seconds left on the clock.”
In the quarterfinals, Visconti lost a close match 3-2 to a talented Brush wrestler who went on to place fourth at the state meet.
“There were a couple of calls that did not go Joe’s way that would have made the difference,” Jellum said. “I felt Joe had a solid takedown on the edge of the mat, but the official did not give it to him. Then in the third period, he was not awarded a near fall. I have to give a lot of credit to Joe for weathering the storm of that disappointment.”
Knocked out of championship bracket by that loss, Visconti rebounded by first earning a convincing win over a Bayfield wrestler, and then defeating a Centauri opponent that he had faced earlier in the season.
“Joe executed a great takedown and was ahead 5-0 by the end of the first period,” Jellum said. “He ended the match with two more takedowns in the third period to win it 11-5.”
Those two wins earned Visconti a place in the medal rounds, but then his luck ran out. He first lost a match to a Lamar wrestler in another 3-2 decision. Then he fell to Bennett opponent in the fifth/sixth-place match.
“I know that Joe is disappointed that he didn’t place higher, but there are a lot of ranked 140-pounders who were at state that didn’t win a medal like he did,” Jellum said. “In the offseason, he’ll be devoting himself again to freestyle wrestling which is why he’s at the level he is now.”
In addition to Visconti’s sixth place, Jellum said another highlight of this year’s state meet was the match win earned by senior Rod Garrett in 160-pound weight class.
“Rod’s win over a Bayfield wrestler Thursday night was a truly great performance,” he said. “At one point in the match, he was in jeopardy of getting pinned, but he turned it around and pinned his opponent. That was just great.”
Another accomplishment for the Panthers at the 2008 state championships was the match win by Mitch Strang in the 215-pound weight class.
“After his win at state, we’re looking at a positive season from Mitch next season,” Jellum said. “His victory was in a match with a Sheridan wrestler who he pinned in the second period. His two subsequent losses were to eventual state placers, but he fought hard in those matches and that speaks highly of him.”
With the end of the wrestling season, the Panthers are saying goodbye to their only senior Rod Garrett who will be graduating this spring.
“Rod provided the senior leadership this season and we wish him well,” Jellum said. “The Panthers have a good core of wrestlers who will be returning next season. We have a bunch of underclassmen who have already set themselves the goal of making state next year.”
With the end of this season, Middle Park High’s wrestling team is expressing its thanks to all of its fans.
“We had a good season of accomplishments,” Jellum said. “We want to acknowledge all the great support that we’ve gotten from our families and our fans. It is greatly appreciated.”
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