Steamboat wrestling has a young core ahead of the 2022-23 season

Steamboat Springs wrestler Henry Dismuke tries to get the better of his opponent in a consolation-round match at the Colorado High School Activities Association State Wrestling Championships on Feb. 18, at Ball Arena. Starting a new season, the Sailors travel to Golden for the first match of the season on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

After a four-year stretch as Steamboat wrestling’s assistant coach, Brian Almer is set to take the reins of an exciting program. 

His No. 1 goal this season is to continue building what he and former head coach Jordan Bonifas had started constructing years ago, and he says his athletes are responding well to that. 

With 19 athletes on the roster and only two seniors, Almer says it is a young team with a great work ethic that has a lot of potential. He is working his athletes hard in practice and has seen quick development. 

“The expectation for them is to continuously grow each week,” Almer said. “I know it’s cliche but don’t look toward the end of the season too soon. Look at the next competition at hand and continue to work on the little things that we all know we can get better at.”

Almer has been most proud of the growth of the program over the years. Four years ago when he first started out coaching for Steamboat, the team only had six wrestlers. Now, it has 19 and continues to gain student interest. 

Almer acknowledges wrestling is a difficult sport to get into and especially does not lend itself to a ski town like Steamboat, but he takes pride in its growth around town and says he is excited to see it continue. 

“Wrestling is not the easiest sport,” Almer said. “It teaches mental toughness, it’s a gritty sport and teaches you to get through some uncomfortable situations. I think it really has a positive impact on those that continue to stick with it.”

The team has not yet named its captains for the season but Almer notes a lot of the leadership will be on the shoulders of his more experienced athletes. 

In previous seasons, Almer says it was mostly the coaches who led the team, but this year he hopes to switch things up and give the veterans a more prominent role. 

This season’s biggest focuses will be on creating and maintaining a good mindset and using that to stay mentally tough. Almer will rely on his older players to help make that vision a reality. 

“One of the big things we want to focus on as well is accountability and discipline,” Almer said. “We’re putting that in the hands of the seniors and the team leaders. I think we will have a coaches discussion and a vote on the team to pick the team leaders but really putting the accountability in their hands is a thing we will focus on.”

The Sailors travel to Golden for the first competition of the season in a dual tournament on Saturday, Dec. 3. Almer says the team has an awesome schedule this year including frequent travel to Denver and Grand Junction. 

Almer is confident in his team this year and hopes what he has seen in practice will translate to the mat. 

“It’s all in the wrestlers hands,” Almer said. “We’ll show them the tools, but it’s up to them to put those tools to use.”

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