Vail Valley preps: Eagle Valley hits the podium at home meet
GYPSUM – After Saturday’s Eagle Valley Invitational, Devils wrestling coach Ron Beard declared himself “tickled pink.”
It really takes a lot to get Beard tickled, much less pink. Trust us.
Eagle Valley placed 10 wrestlers (out of 14 weight classes) on the podium at its home invite Saturday, taking second place with 189 points, behind only 3A perennial power Hotchkiss (218.5).
“The kids gave great effort all the way through the lineup,” Beard said. “They just battled.”
By comparison, the Devils had four podiums at their meet last year.
Leading the way for Eagle Valley, of course, was Matt Kottenstette at 160 pounds. He had a workman-like 4-0 day, winning his class. He took out Glenwood Springs’ Chris Ayala, 5-0, in his final.
While the match was never in doubt, Kottenstette said that he was probably being a little over-cautious after losing a 2-1 decision at the Warrior Classic last month. (His opponent was a two-time state champ from Arizona.) In that match, Kottenstette had held a 1-0 lead and had control of the match, but lost his grip on his opponent’s head. That lead to a two-point reversal and the defeat.
Though it was Kottenstette’s third win in as many years at the Eagle Valley Invite, he was more excited about the way the team was doing.
“I’m really impressed with our team. We’ve had a lot of kids place, so that’s cool,” he said. “Our team’s been working hard. The kids who stuck it out have showed a lot of improvement. It actually motivates me. I know a lot of them are looking to me, so when I see them working, it just inspires me to work harder.
This brings up the interesting question of the chicken and the egg and which came first? Kottenstette says he gets pumped by his teammates, but they seem to draw a lot of inspiration from him.
“He’s a lead-by example type,” Beard said. “He isn’t real loud. Kids want to follow him, and work like Matt. They want to work as hard as him.”
However it goes, it worked Saturday. Here’s your Eagle Valley honor roll: Damien Atencio (third, 103), Kris Moya (third, 119), Taylor Wheeler (second, 125), Matt Minder (third, 130), Cole Nielsen (second, 145), Andrew Vigil (third, 152), Andy Armstrong (fourth, 189), Joey Sanchez (second (215), Satchel Jones (fourth, heavyweight)
The latter two were particularly impressive as neither Sanchez or Jones is even close to being 215 or 275 pounds, respectively. Both less than 200 pounds, they wrestled up earning valuable points for the team.
Eagle Valley hosts Palisade Thursday for a dual and then the varsity is off to Evergreen for a tournament.
Madril shines for Battle Mountain
Manny Madril’s grandmother has some new goodies after Saturday’s tournament.
Madril won the 130-pound division and after enjoying the view from the top of the podium decided that Grandma is getting his medal and the poster-sized bracket of Saturday’s action.
“It’s pretty cool,” Madril said. “A lot of hard work pays off. We’re a small team, and we’re working hard, but we’re progressing every week.”
The win is big for Madril, a senior, who saw four years of hard work materialize. It’s also big for Battle Mountain wrestling, which is working hard to turn its program around. Billy Shue was the last Huskies wrestler to win a tournament, back in Middle Park in 2008.
Meanwhile, all involved were trying to figure out when was the last time a Battle Mountain athlete won at the Eagle Valley Invite. It’s been a while, and the Huskies hope this is the start of something big.
“I hope it does a lot,” Huskies coach Desi Quintana said. “I hope it teaches the kids. Manny’s the first one at practice and he works hard through the whole practice.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.