Sailors wrestlers ready for season
Steamboat team a combination of veterans and rookies
November 29, 2008
Steamboat Springs — The first step for the Steamboat Springs High School wrestling team was making sure there actually would be a team this winter.
With that hurdle cleared – the team’s numbers jumped from two wrestlers a year ago to a relatively robust 11 this season – the Sailors focus is twofold as the team takes to the mats.
First, they want to build a program that generates enough interest to ensure the minuscule numbers from last season never are a problem again.
Second, the team wants to flex its muscle, win some matches and leverage its few experienced grapplers into position for a run in the state tournament.
“I’m pretty excited about what’s happening here,” first-year coach Shane Yeager said. “There’s a different atmosphere this year. People are talking about different things in the hall.”
Houston Mader graduated, so junior Derek Morris stands alone as the only experienced Sailor wrestling for Steamboat.
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He certainly won’t have trouble finding motivation. Morris had plenty of opportunity to build up angst in an injury- and sickness-riddled sophomore campaign. He first overcame a broken hand early in the season, then was stricken later by a case of mononucleosis.
Steamboat also finds a well of experience in Steven Lucas, a senior who transferred in after picking up the sport as a high school sophomore in Maryland.
Lucas and Morris proved their value to the program by working to recruit many of the young, new faces that populate the wrestling room. They may be in line to prove their worth on the mat, too.
“Derek, I truly believe he can be a state placer – a high place,” Yeager said. “Steve will place really high, too.”
After that, Yeager admitted it may be a rough year but also the perfect kind of season to build a strong program.
“We have a lot of kids trying this for the first time,” Yeager said. “This year will be tough, but they have a lot of heart and determination. You can’t measure that, but that’s what it takes.”
Yeager served as an assistant coach at the high school level intermittently for the last couple years but has long helped organize and coach the youth wrestling program in Steamboat.
His work there may be the key to the program’s long-term sustainability, and it could start paying off this season.
The Sailors welcomed several wrestlers this year who never have been on the mat, but several have strong experience in youth wrestling, as well.
They won’t have to wait long to see where they stand.
“We start with a tough tournament against West Grand,” Yeager said, speaking about the program’s season-opening trip to Middle Park. “Then, we have a tough junior varsity tournament in Rifle after that, so we’ll see exactly where our kids are at.”