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Local success

Hayden wrestlers win team title, Soroco claims pair of champions

Dave Shively

— Aaron Haskins and Dennis Morgan have been wrestling since they were in seventh grade. They’ve always been about the same weight, and their matches against one another have always been close.

“They’ve been going back and forth all through middle school,” Hayden wrestling coach Ty Zabel said.

Of course, there is one obvious difference between the two wrestlers – Haskins attends Hayden High School and Morgan goes to cross-county rival Soroco High School.

“Well, there’s the whole Hayden rivalry thing,” the Soroco junior said Saturday during the Carl Ramunno Invitational at Steamboat Springs High School.

Both wrestlers won their first two matches in the tournament’s five-match round robin for the heaviest weight class, which combined the 189-, 215- and 285-pound classes.

Morgan and Haskins then met in the fifth round to determine the class champion.

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Morgan wasted little time, pinning Haskins 1 minute and 19 seconds into the first period. The win capped off Morgan’s five-win performance at the local tournament.

Haskins finished third.

“I was trying to go for a fireman’s carry, but he got me on the ground in a cow-catcher,” Morgan said about the match. “I tilted out, he tried to get on my back, but I just rolled through : you can’t be disappointed with a win.”

The lightest weight class round robin also featured a cross-county match between

Soroco and Hayden. Hayden junior Zed Wheelock and Soroco sophomore Justin Iacovetto entered the fifth-round championship match undefeated in the 112-pound class.

“(Wheelock) was the toughest I wrestled today,” Iacovetto said after pinning Wheelock in 3:27. “I was trying to control the tempo and not let (my opponents) score points. This is a smaller tournament, so I wanted to try a lot of different moves. Today was a learning day.”

Soroco coach Doug Gates echoed Iacovetto’s sentiment, calling the meet a learning experience. He noted the strides Caleb Mitchell made in his third-place finish in the 160-pound class. Despite a bout with the flu, Joel Schlegel also finished third in his 135-pound class.

Although Hayden fell short in the championship matches, the Tigers had the last laugh.

During the post-tournament awards ceremony, the Tigers anxiously awaited the final team scores. When Rangely was announced as the second-place finisher, the Hayden wrestlers exploded with cheers and went to claim their trophy.

Hayden fielded wrestlers in 11 of the tournament’s 12 class divisions. Russell Waugh was Hayden’s only first-place winner (171-pound class), but Hayden reached the podium in 10 weight classes, earning the team 146 points.

Rangely finished in second with 115.5 points, followed by Moffat County’s junior varsity (92), Soroco (69), Steamboat (59), North Park (45), Saratoga (38) and West Grand (18).

Zabel was happy for his team, but felt the Tigers fell short in the second half of the tournament.

“I guess we got tired, lost our focus and made mistakes – moving on the bottom for escapes and not capitalizing on pins, we kind of fell apart and lost our focus,” he said.

“The guys have all been working hard and really push each other in practice,” Zabel said. “I’ve been in the wrestling room for many years, and it’s the toughest room I’ve seen since I’ve been in Hayden.”

For their next matches, Soroco will travel to Del Norte on Friday, and Hayden takes on Olathe on Saturday.

– To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253

or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com