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Sailors hope to build on success

Steamboat returns trio of state qualifers

Steamboat coach Travis Bryant celebrates with Hayden Johnson last February after Johnson won a spot in the championship finals at the state wrestling tournament. Johnson's one of three Sailors who qualified for that event who are back to wrestle this season, leading the way for an experienced squad.
Joel Reichenberger

Getting started

Most winter high school teams open their seasons this weekend

Steamboat Springs High School

Boys basketball: Friday at Roaring Fork tournament

Girls basketball: Friday at Roaring Fork tournament

Hockey: Friday at Battle Mountain, Dobson Ice Arena

Wrestling: Friday at Battle Mountain triangular

Nordic skiing: Jan. 7 at Middle Park High School

Alpine skiing: Jan. 6 at Aspen

Soroco High School

Boys basketball: Saturday at Burro Classic, South Park High School, vs. Platte Canyon

Girls basketball: Thursday at Meeker tournament, 65-45 win vs. Mesa Ridge junior varsity

Wrestling: Saturday at Middle Park High School

Hayden High School

Boys basketball: Thursday at Meeker Cowboy Shootout

Girls basketball: Friday at Kiowa High School vs. Dayspring Christian Academy

Wrestling: Saturday at Middle Park High School

— At first, the news seemed good to Steamboat Springs High School wrestling coach Travis Bryant. The Sailors were out of the state’s Class 3A western regional — home to some of the grittiest, toughest teams in the state — and into one in Denver.

But, a bit of research showed the squad’s not in for a cakewalk. Even if the scene’s different, the path through the regional tournament and on to state remains difficult.

It may only matter so much.

The Sailors are coming off their best season in more than a decade and whether they have to go through Western Slope squads or Front Range teams, they could be in line for another strong showing this winter.

Bryant said some injuries will slow his athletes early this year, but he’s optimistic about how they’ll round into shape in January and February.

“It will come down to how we can get those guys healthy, but we still have the power,” Bryant said. “We just have to get them healthy and keep them healthy.”

Top on the list of returning wrestlers is junior Hayden Johnson, fresh off a second-place finish in the 160-pound bracket at last year’s state wrestling tournament.

At least to start the season Johnson is bumping up a class to 170 pounds, but at any weight, he’ll be one of the most skilled Sailors on the mats.

“He’s beefed up, but he’s humble, never showboaty or anything,” Bryant said. “He’s always low key and just gets in there and works hard. I wish I had eight of him on this team as far as his attitude’s concerned. He pushes the other kids and is always working.”

Senior Colton Pasternak, likely to wrestle at 113 pounds, is another coming off a red-hot finish to the season. He placed fifth at state a year ago.

Dakota Thvedt, also a senior and also a veteran of the state tournament, won one match there a year ago. He’ll again wrestle this year at 132 pounds — a spot Bryant said is particularly deep for the Sailors.

They have four strong athletes lined up there at the moment including veterans Kyle Spognardi and Zach Roach, both of whom just missed the state tournament a year ago at other weights.

“It’ll be hard to spread them all out, but if we ever can, we’ll be real tough in the middle weights,” Bryant said.

The team will be missing several athletes due to injuries early this season, including Matthew Hansen, dinged up from football, and Miles Buchan, who broke a hand.

The team opens its season Friday with a triangular on the road against Summit and host Battle Mountain. The Sailors then turn around a day later for a trip to a tournament at Middle Park High School.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9


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