Sailor wrestlers hope to still compete at state |

Sailor wrestlers hope to still compete at state

Steamboat Springs wrestling head coach Jordan Bonifas addresses his team ahead of a November practice.
Shelby Reardon

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs High School junior Spencer Mader was seven points shy of an appearance last fall at the Colorado State High School Wrestling Championships.

He fell to Mikhail Garcia, a senior at Gunnison High School, 11-5 in the fourth-place match at the Colorado 3A Region 1 Tournament.

This year, as a senior, Mader has one last chance to compete at the Pepsi Center in Denver, and he’s not going to waste it.

“I missed it by one place, but I put the work in this summer, so hopefully, I get some good results,” Mader said. “I devoted all my time in the summer just to wrestling, going to freestyle tournaments.”

Mader is one of six senior Sailor wrestlers this year, along with John Slowey, Tucker Havel, Caleb Anderson, Dawson Nibbelink and Jack Demmitt. 

Slowey was the sole male Sailor to qualify for state last year but was unable to attend due to a skin infection. Havel, who qualified in the past, suffered a knee injury midway through the season, so never had a chance at qualifying.

So with that, no Sailor attended the 2019 boys state tournament.

Slowey said he’ll be back at state this year, though. He attended the Jeff Jordan State Champ Camp in Ohio over the summer, got stronger and improved his technique. He said his style has completely evolved as well.

“It used to be real heavy on the head,” Slowey said. “It’s set ups, looking for shots, looking for opportunities. I don’t want to constrict myself to a particular style, really it’s just whatever comes, whatever opportunity comes I’ll take.”

Steamboat Springs wrestling schedule:

  • Dec. 7: Steamboat Springs at Middle Park, 2nd
  • Dec. 10: Triangular at Steamboat Springs: W vs. Coal Ridge 60-18, L vs. MoCo 65-18
  • Dec. 14: Steamboat Springs at Delta, 7th
  • Dec. 20-21: Steamboat Springs at Central Tournament
  • Dec. 21: Steamboat Springs at West Grand
  • Jan. 11: Steamboat Springs at Eagle Valley
  • Jan. 16: Steamboat Springs vs. Glenwood at Eagle Valley
  • Jan. 18: Steamboat Springs at Rifle
  • Jan. 23: Palisade, Rifle at Steamboat Springs, 5 p.m.
  • Jan. 25: Steamboat Springs at Northglenn
  • Jan. 28: Hayden, Soroco at Steamboat Springs, 5 p.m.
  • Feb. 1: Steamboat Springs at Gilcrest
  • Feb. 1: Girls Regionals at Centennial
  • Feb.8: Girls State Tournament at Thornton
  • Feb. 14: Steamboat Springs at Regionals in Montrose
  • Feb. 15: Steamboat Springs at Regionals in Montrose
  • Feb. 20: Steamboat Springs at State in Denver
  • Feb. 21:Steamboat Springs at State in Denver
  • Feb. 22: Steamboat Springs at State in Denver

Head Coach Jordan Bonifas has no doubt in his mind that Slowey will not only lead the team but get back to the state tournament. 

“John just has been working hard. As a sophomore, he made it to state with basically one move, and we’ve been having him evolve every year,” Bonifas said. “It’s just maturity and confidence really, is what’s taken him to the next level.”

Also a returning state qualifier, is Adalia George, the only female on the Steamboat team. She elected to wrestle with the guys this season before attending the Colorado High School Athletic Association girls regional and state. Last year, as a freshman, George attended the first ever CHSAA girls state tournament, losing by way of fall in both of her matches. 

Steamboat Springs Spencer Mader takes down Soroco’s Darrel Ebaugh on Friday, Feb. 8 at Soroco High School. (Photo by Leah Vann)
Leah Vann

She hopes to get back there this year and show how she’s improved after wrestling with and against guys all season.

“All the boys teach me new things,” she said of her Sailor teammates. “I think I definitely have the advantage wrestling with all of them for sure. They’re like my brothers.”

The Sailors will host three times this year, starting with duals against Moffat County and Coal Ridge on Tuesday, Dec. 10. Palisade and Rifle will visit Steamboat on Jan. 23, and Hayden and Soroco high schools will come to the Routt County Triangular on Jan. 28.

“It’s gonna be great. We’ve only had one for the past three years. It’s just an amazing opportunity for the community and for us as a team,” Slowey said. “We’re hoping to be a top-10 team this year, keep wrestling going in the school, and get some excitement there.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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