MPHS wrestling: To get better, compete against the best |

MPHS wrestling: To get better, compete against the best

Middle Park’s Panther wrestlers were defeated Friday by the second ranked team in the state at Florence High School.

“It is always tough to get beat, but we need to wrestle the best high school programs in order to know what we need to improve upon,” said coach Cal Cherrington.

“Florence is a veteran team with an aggressive style that racks up a lot of points in a hurry. They tilt so effectively that you are down by 10 points before you know what hit you.”

The final score was 64 to 12. Seniors, Joe Visconti, 130, and Mitch Strang, 215, scored victories for the Panthers with pins accounting for the 12 points scored by Middle Park.

Three Middle Park wrestlers faced off against number one ranked wrestlers in the state. Brandon Strang, 103, lost a major decision to Jacob Cole 0-11. Nate Halpin, defending state champion, defeated Middle Park’s Shelby Garrett, 15-0, and Nate Birdseye lost to defending state champ Matt Addington 15-0.

Jared Cooper, 125, and Jesse Johnson, 140, also lost decisions, while Mitch Steffen, 145, and Brian Macchione, 189, lost by fall. Andrew Hemm wrestled two sub-varsity matches winning one 11-7 and losing by fall in the other.

Panthers take 8th place in Florence High School Invitational Tournament

On Saturday, the Panthers faced off against a 16-team field at the always-tough Florence High School Invitational Tournament. Four of the top five ranked teams in the 3a division competed.

Centari High School, ranked no. 1 in Colorado 3A, won the tournament, followed by Florence, Canon City (4A), Monte Vista, Bayfield, Buena Vista, Gunnison, Middle Park, Rye, Trinidad, Woodland Park (4A), Discovery Canyon, Classical Academy, Lake County, Academy, and Nederland.

“We only entered wrestlers in seven of the fourteen weights,” Cherrington said. “To finish in eighth place is a good showing. We won some very close matches which show evidence that we are getting tougher and more competitive on the mat.

“Individually, Middle Park had some excellent performances.”

Visconti, dropped to the 130 lb. weight class, and ran into Centari’s top ranked Cahlen Keys. In a great championship match, Keys prevailed 4-3. Mitch Strang, 215, had a great day reaching the championship match before he was beat by Rico Garcia, from Canon City by fall. Brandon Strang, 103, and Nathan Birdseye, 152, each won three matches on the day, falling just short of the medal round. Brian Macchione, 189, won two matches before elimination. Jesse Johnson, Mitch Steffen and Andrew Hemm all competing in the 140 lb. weight class each, and won one match on the day. Jared Cooper, 125, also had one victory before he was knocked out of the competition.

“It was good to wrestle against the teams that we will compete against in our league, region and at state,” Cherrington said. “As a group, we still have a lot of work to do if we want to bring home some hardware at the end of the season.”

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