Vail Valley preps: Devils take home trophy from Buena Vista |

Vail Valley preps: Devils take home trophy from Buena Vista

GYPSUM – Everything that follows is prefaced by the fact that it is still early.

In wrestling, really only two meets matter – regionals, and if you get through that, state. Both of those events are in February, and there are still shopping days before Christmas.

Nonetheless, the vibe coming out of the Eagle Valley wrestling room is pretty good right now. Fresh off a strong performance at Middle Park, the Devils went a perfect 5-0 at last weekend’s Buena Vista Demon Duals to win tournament.

“We had a great weekend,” Devils coach Rob Beard said. “We wrestled tough. I’m really proud of the boys. We beat some good teams.”

Coach Beard likes this tournament because he knows his wrestlers, even with vacancies in weight classes from other teams, can get in at least three matches-worth of work. This is much better than some early season tournaments where a guy can go 1-1 on the weekend and end up finishing second in weight class, which doesn’t mean too much.

That said, any coach will like a tournament when his boys go 5-0. The Devils ripped Platte Canyon, 54-12, and kept going. The Devils also knocked off Glenwood Springs (41-27), Buena Vista (60-24), Pagosa Springs (40-33) and Gunnison (37-27).

Not surprisingly, Matt Kottenstette went 4-0 and also received a forfeit. A state returnee, there are big expectations for the 160-pounder. What was interesting is that in two of his four bouts, the senior wrestled up a weight class against 171-pounders, showing his prowess and willingness to help the Devils put up team points.

Kottenstette pinned Platte Canyon’s Indiana Hooser in 1 minute, 6 seconds, and scored a 4-2 decision against Gunnison’s Zach Roper at 171 pounds.

“Matt will do whatever it takes for the team,” Beard said.

The good news for Eagle Valley fans is that this is becoming a team effort.

Matt Minder (135), Taylor Wheeler (130), Damien Atencio (103) and Andrew Vigil (152) all went 3-0 in their matches. Of the 12 wins by that quartet, eight came by pin, which always helps the scoring. (One gets six points for a pin, and 3-5 points for decisions based on margin of victory.)

Again, this is early because winning by pin pads your point total at regionals and state, but it’s a good trend.

“Right now, this is a pretty good team, compared to previous years,” Atencio, a junior said. “I have a good feeling that this team could go far.”

At 119, Kris Moya had a great meet. After falling to his opponent from Platte Canyon, he plowed through his next three bouts with two pins and a a technical fall (five team points).

To get his kids matches, Beard kept tinkering with his lineup. Cole Nielsen, Rick Ramunno and Satchel Jones were popping between weight classes throughout the Demon Duals.

“The first weekend out at Middle Park, we realized what we’re capable of,” Beard said. “We’ve picked up the conditioning, and it’s important to get confidence with some wins.

That’s because this weekend is the Warrior Classic at Mesa State down in Grand Junction. This invitation-only meet attracts grapplers from all over the Rocky Mountain region, and, sometimes, can be a good litmus for the state tournament in February.

Naturally, this has been the week that the bug has hit the Eagle Valley wrestling room. Coach Beard is reporting that head colds and the stomach flu are making the rounds.

“It’s the Warrior,” he said. “If we place one or two, I’d be really happy. We’ve also got a JV tournament this weekend. What we’ve done so far isn’t a season, but we’re excited. Honestly, if we can get through this week, get everyone rested over the break and start fresh in January, I think we could make some noise.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or

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