Young Eagle Valley wrestlers get ready for season
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM ” If competition breeds success, then watch out for the Eagle Valley wrestling team.
Nearly every weight class is up for grabs, and a young roster of 20 athletes is hungry to fill the empty slots. The Devils are preparing for their 2008-09 season by getting to work on the mat.
“The vibe in the room is really good,” Eagle Valley coach Ron Beard said. “Coach (Luke) Cross and myself talk to each other every day and say we have a good vibe. It’s a great atmosphere. The kids are really taking to it.”
The first order of business for Beard is getting his wrestlers in shape. That’s not to say Eagle Valley is in poor physical condition, but there is a difference between being in shape and being in wrestling shape.
That’s why the Devils are shedding the extra pounds before getting to the technical training.
“It’s a delicate balance between getting them in shape enough to learn the moves and doing it right,” Beard said. “You can’t drill the moves right until you are in shape.”
Once Eagle Valley is ready for some real grappling, Beard should find himself with four tough wrestlers who each have state-tournament aspirations. One of those leaders is Colt Ewing. The 119-pound junior led the Devils in both wins (31) and pins last season.
The Eagle Valley middleweights could also be a strength this year. Joey Bajza ” who took sixth in regionals last year ” is slotted to wrestle at 130 pounds. Andrew Hill is back at 135 pounds after finishing second on the Devils in wins last year.
“My goal is to place at state this year, and build off the confidence I got last year,” Hill said.
Only a freshman last season, Matt Kottenstette proved his mettle with a sixth-place finish at regionals.
“Colt, Joey, Andrew and Matt will do great this year,” Beard said. “They’ve gotten a lot stronger. We believe they are all capable of placing at the state tournament.”
Youngsters working hard
The rest of the Eagle Valley roster is somewhat of a question mark because of its youth. A starting lineup likely won’t be determined in the near future because Beard isn’t sure how the weight classes will shake out once everyone is in shape. Also, the team is yet to hold its wrestle-offs.
Freshmen Kris Moya and Damien Atencio are battling for the 103-pound spot. At 112, sophomores Matt Minder, Zach Wamboldt, Dustin Eachus and freshman Zeke Duty are vying for mat time.
Junior C.J. Duty is squaring off against freshmen Dakota West and Christian Fernandez at 125. Sophomore Walker Gurule and freshman Damian Montes are vying the 140-pound slot.
The 152-pound weight class is up for grabs between junior Logan Morrison and freshman Nick Soto. At 160, Miguel Dominguez, Fidel Montes and Sergio Contreras are in the mix.
“All the freshman and sophomores are working hard,” Hill said. “The seniors and captains are trying to wrestle as hard as we can to make them better. We have a lot of good atmosphere in the room in the right now.”
Unfortunately for Eagle Valley, the Devils are thin at the upper-weights. Trent Book ” a state qualifier last year at 152 ” won’t wrestle this season because of shoulder surgery.
Freshman Tanner Hollis has locked up the 189-pound weight class. Eagle Valley doesn’t have anyone listed at 171, 215 and heavyweight. That doesn’t mean the Devils aren’t setting their goals high this season.
“Anybody can accomplish anything,” Hill said. “It depends on how hard you work. We make (our goals) tough, and we wrestle tough.”
The Devils open their season on Dec. 4 with duals against Battle Mountain and Glenwood Springs in Gypsum.
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.