Middle Park wrestlers test their mettle at tough tourney
Sky-Hi Daily News
To help shake off some of the post-holiday lethargy, Middle Park High’s wrestling team pitched itself into the thick of the tough Eagle Valley Tournament in Gypsum on Saturday, Jan. 5.
The Panthers, who are a 3A division team, were pitted against mostly 4A and 5A teams during the daylong competition. When the dust finally cleared, Middle Park’s matmen placed seventh among the 14 teams at the tournament.
“The bottom line is that it was a pretty tough day for us,” said coach Patrick Jellum. “But on the whole, it was good competition with all of our wrestlers applying their skills.”
Just how tough a tournament the Gypsum meet was can be seen in the results. Only one Middle Park wrestler placed to earn a medal.
Mitch Strang earned a fourth-place finish in the 215-pound weight class.
“Mitch wrestled aggressively,” Jellum said. “When you wrestle aggressively, it pays off for you. Mitch’s confidence is growing.”
While Strang was the only medalist for the team in the tournament, several others won enough matches to boost the team into seventh place. Jellum especially praised the team’s freshmen.
Panther freshman Brandon Strang went 2-2 in his matches in the 103-pound weight class.
“Brandon is still working to get up to that weight,” Jellum said. “But that has not prevented him from wrestling aggressively whether his opponent was of equal weight or not. In a match, he doesn’t wait, but goes on the attack. That’s a good style for him.”
Another freshman, Christian Curiel, also went 2-2 in matches in the 130-pound weight class.
“Chris had a very good overtime win in his match against a 5A wrestler from Cherry Creek High,” Jellum said. “That win spoke volumes about him.”
Wrestling in the 189-pound weight class, Panther freshman Bart Hartley won his first match of the season. The match victory was by a pin. He went 1-2 in matches for the tournament.
Also earning the same tournament record was Tim Satterfiel in the heavyweight class.
“Tim’s win was a good one over a 5A opponent,” Jellum said. ” Tim is 5 foot, 6 inches tall and his opponent was 6 foot, 6 inches. It was a real David-and-Goliath match, but the tree came down.”
Another Middle Park wrestler who did well in Saturday’s meet was Shelby Garrett in the 135-pound class. He went 2-2.
“Both his losses were against really strong opponents and his two wins were in matches that he dominated,” Jellum said. “Shelby is one of our best riders, but he needs to work on his escapes. He is doing a really good job this season.”
Going 1-2 for the tournament was Joe Visconti in the 140-pound weight class.
“Joe’s two losses were against 4A and 5A opponents, but in both matches, he was very competitive,” Jellum said.
Also wrestling for Middle Park at the Eagle Valley Tournament were: Rod Garrett, 171 pounds; Jake Finch, 152 pounds; Josiah Parker, 145 pounds; Mitch Steffen, 135 pounds; and Jared Cooper, 125 pounds.
“Saturday’s tournament was a good way to come back from break,” Jellum said. “It woke us up for the second half of our season. Some of our guys wrestled well and others need to stretch themselves. This week, we are moving some of them around into different weight classes. We’ll see what they can do at a different weight.”
The Panther grapplers have a very tough weekend ahead of them. Today they will be competing in a dual meet at Classical Academy in Colorado Springs. Then on Saturday they travel to the Florence Tournament.
“This weekend is going to be a real barnburner,” Jellum said. “It’s going to be like a mini-3A state championships with us against all the powerhouse teams at Florence. It’s going to be our chance to see some teams such as Bayfield, Ignacio and Monte Vista that we won’t get to see until the state tournament. It will be a nice learning tool for us.”
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