Granby: Middle Park wrestlers show firepower at Lincoln Tournament |

Granby: Middle Park wrestlers show firepower at Lincoln Tournament

Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News

In one of the largest wrestling meets of the season, Middle Park High’s matmen fought hard and emerged with their heads held high after turning in some good results last weekend.

The Panther grapplers were one of 29 teams and the more than 250 wrestlers who competed in the Lincoln Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 2, in Denver. The majority of the teams were 4A and 5A division teams.

“We were one of three 3A division teams along with Yuma and Eaton who were competing,” said coach Patrick Jellum. “All three of us showed that we have quality wrestlers who have real firepower.”

Evidence of that was there for all to see with Middle Park earning two individual medals. The Panthers took only eight wrestlers to the Lincoln Tournament.

Middle Park’s Shelby Garrett earned a third-place medal in the meet’s 130-pound weight class. His teammate Joe Visconti, who wrestles at 140 pounds, took a fourth-place medal.

“In such a huge meet, we were fortunate to place two in the top four of their weight classes,” Jellum said. “That was a darn good feat by both Shelby and Joe, who both wrestled very well, making a lot of positive moves and displaying very aggressive behavior.”

On his way to his third-place medal, Shelby Garrett won three matches and lost one. His loss came in the semifinals following a questionable call by the official.

“Shelby was much more the aggressor in that match, but he got a style call against him that was not very impressive,” Jellum said. “That proved to be the deciding factor in the match with his opponent winning 3-1. But to Shelby’s credit, he immediately came back strongly in the third/fourth-place match to control it and win.”

Visconti’s fourth-place medal was taken with a 2-2 record for the tournament.

“Joe got into the semifinals with an Eaton opponent who is ranked second in the state,” Jellum said. “He lost 5-3, because he shot a takedown that was not as strong as he usually does and that allowed the Eaton wrestler to get up on points. In a way, it’s good because Joe now knows what he has to do to win against that opponent when they see each other again at state.”

The rest of Middle Park’s wrestlers fought hard but did not make it into the tournament’s medal rounds.

“Some of our six other wrestlers had some pretty rough outings at Lincoln,” Jellum said. “That tournament is always pretty rough, but it was neat to see how our guys fought all the way.”

Wrestling in the 125-pound weight class, Middle Park’s Christian Curiel picked up a couple of wins Saturday.

“Chris was impressive, especially in his first win where he destroyed the wrestler who had beaten him in the previous week’s tournament,” Jellum said. “He won by a score of 16-0. Talk about what a difference a week can make.”

Curiel then went on to win by a pin against a 5A Columbine wrestler, but then lost to two other strong opponents.

“Chris had a good showing at Lincoln against some quality wrestlers. We’re really pleased with his focus,” Jellum said.

Also earning a match victory Saturday was Panther senior Rod Garrett in the 160-pound weight class.

“Rod earned that win at the start of the day against a 5A wrestler from Pamona,” Jellum said. “It was a good victory against a good opponent. He lost his other two matches, one against the No. 1-ranked 3A wrestler and a 5A opponent from Chapparal, but Rod made a good effort in both matches.”

Nate Birdseye wrestled strongly in the 145-pound weight class but fell in both his matches.

“Nate almost pulled off a win against a wrestler from Yuma,” Jellum said. “He had the lead going into the third period, but wasn’t able to escape. That gave up three points and he lost 3-2. Nate fought well, but needs to work on his takedowns.”

Wrestling in a very tough weight class, 135-pound Mitch Steffen also lost both of his matches.

“Mitch is still young to the sport but is learning as he goes along,” Jellum said. “He has the heart of a lion, and it’s fun to watch his efforts. If he keeps going, good things will happen for him down the road.”

Brandon Strang at 103 pounds and Mitch Strang at 215 pounds also gave the tournament their best efforts but came away without a victory.

“Brandon and Mitch both ran into very tough competition. They lost to the eventual placers in the tournament,” Jellum said.

On Saturday, Middle Park High’s wrestling team travels to Bennett High School for the Frontier League Tournament. The first match of the day is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.

“We’ll only be able to wrestle eight of the 14 weight classes because we have four injured wrestlers,” Jellum said. “Because of that, it will be difficult to be in the hunt for the league title. However, all eight of our wrestlers definitely have a chance to win All-Conference honors. That’s our goal.”

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