Young Rams ready to host Saturday wrestling tournament
If you go
What: Soroco wrestling invitational
Where: Soroco High School in Oak Creek
When: 9 a.m. Saturday, with awards expected by 3 p.m.
Who: Teams will include Soroco, Hayden, Buena Vista, Gilpin County, Lake County, Middle Park, North Park, Rangely and West Grand.
Oak Creek — The Soroco High School wrestling team may be lacking in experience, but it’s not lacking in determination. Coach Jay Whaley said the Rams “wrestled like a young team” in their first outing last weekend at the Middle Park Panther Invitational in Granby, but the kids are obviously champing at the bit to get back on the mat this weekend.
“I feel like I know what my competition is. It was the first look at what I got ahead of me,” said Soroco junior Lane Martindale, who wrestles at 132 pounds, about last weekend’s tournament. “The first weekend was rough, but I know I can beat the kids that I lost to. I know my team can beat the kids they lost to, so I think it’s going to be different this weekend.”
The Rams will face many of the same wrestlers as last weekend when Soroco hosts its own invitational Saturday in Oak Creek. Whaley expects to have nine schools participate, seven of which were also in Granby to open the season.
That means there is potential for many rematches across the weight classes.
“I expect to see improvement. What kind of coach wouldn’t?” Whaley said, only half jokingly. “I think we are just going to mature as the whole year goes on, with all of these guys. I always tell them, in today’s world, everybody always wants everything right now. But wrestling is a marathon; it’s not a sprint. You just keep building on it, and pretty soon, everything is coming together.”
Of the nine Soroco athletes who went out for the team this year, five are freshmen. This inexperience showed in the opening tournament of the season, but Whaley said he also saw a lot of promise, especially from the underclassmen.
Standouts included Martindale, who lost a 9-3 decision in the quarterfinals to the eventual tournament champion; sophomore Dalton Ray, who stepped up to 145 pounds and battled through to the consolation semis after a first-round win; and Shad Covalt, the team’s only senior, who took fourth at 106 pounds.
Freshman Jace Logan was impressive in his debut, taking third at 152 pounds. His only loss came to Steamboat Springs High School junior Matthew Hansen in the semifinals.
“The first tournament was pretty hard,” Covalt said. “I felt like I did good. I’ve got improvements to make, but I really feel like, as a team, we are going to accomplish great stuff.”
Saturday’s tournament in Oak Creek, which begins at 9 a.m., is the first of two home dates for the Rams this season. Soroco will also host a triangular Feb. 4 with West Grand and Hayden, both of which will also be competing in Oak Creek this weekend.
Whaley said to expect most of the weight classes to compete in a round-robin format Saturday as opposed to a traditional bracket. This will be a plus for the young Rams, allowing the inexperienced wrestlers more opportunities to learn on the mat.
“In a lot of cases, you’ll see kids getting four or five matches, where they might get two in a normal tournament,” Whaley said. “It’s good for our community to see our boys here at home.”
Whaley hopes to have the tournament wrapped up, including awards presentations, between 2 and 3 p.m.
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