Granby " Panthers host only wrestling meet of the season on Saturday |

Granby " Panthers host only wrestling meet of the season on Saturday

Will Bublitz
Grand County, Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

The Panther wrestlers open their 2008-09 season this Saturday by hosting one of the state’s largest and toughest tournaments, the Middle Park Invitational.

Saturday’s all-day competition kicks off at 9:30 a.m. in the Middle Park High School gym and continues through the finals that begin about 5 p.m.

More than 250 wrestlers from 22 teams representing the state’s 2A through 5A divisions will be competing.

“Historically, one of the teams that competes in the Middle Park Invitational ends up winning the state championship title for their division,” said Cal Cherrington, who is Middle Park’s new head coach.

“You can also depend on seeing at least six to seven wrestlers who will end up as individual state champions,” he said. “Our tournament, which always opens the season, is known as a tough one with a lot of good wrestlers.”

Cherrington was the Panther wrestling team’s former head coach from 1997 to 2002. During that time, he led the Middle Park team to a state championship in 2001.

“I got the urge to come back and coach again,” Cherrington said. “I think I know a bit more now and I have a fresh perspective on things.”

The Middle Park High School wrestling team is entering the 2008-09 season with 13 wrestlers on its roster including:

Nathan Birdseye, junior, 152 pounds; Jared Cooper, senior, 130 pounds; Shelby Garrett, junior, 140 pounds; Andrew Henn, freshman, 145 pounds; Jesse Johnson, senior, 145 pounds; Brian Macchione, freshman, 189 pounds; Enrique Ramirez, sophomore, 112 pounds; Eric Scholl, senior, 145 pounds; Mitchell Steffen, junior, 135 pounds; Brandon Strang, sophomore, 103 pounds; Mitchal Strang, senior 215 pounds; and Joe Visconti, senior, 135 pounds.

Going into the new season, the Panthers have three wrestlers who qualified for the state meet last season ” Joe Visconti, Mitchal Strang and Eric Scholl. Visconti is a two-time state medal winner.

“We’ve got wrestlers right now who I know will do very well this season and others who could be very competitive by the end of the season,” Cherrington said. “As far as team, it will be a little tricky because we won’t be able to fill all of our weight classes. The work ethic of all of our wrestlers is outstanding.”

To improve the team’s wrestling performance, Cherrington said he has introduced a set of new wrestling techniques.

“It’s a new offense and our wrestlers are being asked to try things that they’re not necessarily used to,” he said. “There are some pitfalls to this, but our aim is to have good results by the end of the season during the regionals and state meets. All the meets between now and then are just training.”

During Saturday’s season-opening meet at home, Middle Park will only be able to put eight of its 13 wrestlers into the competition due to a number of injuries.

“The guys are taking it in stride,” Cherrington said. “Of those who will be competing, we just want to see them wrestle hard and we hope to see some of the new techniques being used. We also want to check on our conditioning.”

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