Soroco girls wrestling doubles, boys return strong athletes
OAK CREEK — Last year, the Soroco High School wrestling team made history as freshman Larhae Whaley finished fourth at the first Colorado High School Activities Association-sanctioned Girls Wrestling State Championships. She became the first Soroco girl to place at any state tournament, girls or boys.
This year, the team is not only retaining most of the athletes from last season, but nearly doubling thanks to a partnership with Moffat County. Four girls from the Moffat County High School travel to Soroco to practice at least once a week. They will officially wrestle in a maroon singlet for Soroco, which improves the chances
Between both schools, the Soroco girls team is eight women strong. While a few have never wrestled, head coach Jay Whaley still has high hopes for the team.
“Last year we had a lot of girls do it to and for a little school,” Jay said. “It’s kind of fun when you’re beating up Grand Junction and all these big schools with an itty bitty school.”
Larhae has the highest of expectations for herself as a sophomore.
“I want to be a state champion,” she said. “But also, place better than fourth, since that’s what I got last year. But really, stand at the top of the podium.”
Moffat County has a few girls who wrestled in middle school, so while rusty, they’re familiar with the sport and some of the skills necessary to succeed. Hannah Frink, a junior at Moffat County High School, comes from a line of wrestling talent. Frink helped get some other friends from Craig to wrestle in Soroco, and her father is helping coach the team. Her brother, Caleb Frink, also found success wrestling.
Frink said the first practice was a little awkward, but already, the Craig girls feel like part of the team.
“We were like, ‘Do we talk to them, do we not?’” Frink said. “But now we joke around at practice. It’s like a family I think.”
The Soroco boys will be a small, seven-man team, but a mighty team, led by senior Austin Little, who Whaley expects to do well.
Last year, as a junior, Little should have wrestled at 172 pounds, but was beat out by senior Kody Logan, who ended up getting put in the 195 weight class near the end of the season, where he struggled, but ended up beating state-ranked wrestlers.
This year, with no teammates vying for his weight class, Little should have a strong season.
Gavyn Salberg is a junior who has made improvements each year. He expects to be more competitive than ever this winter, even if he’s in the most difficult weight classes of 145- and 152-pounds.
Salberg said he has a goal of kicking butt and taking names, which is just vague enough to allow him to be satisfied with really whatever he accomplishes.
Back in the 2021-22 season are tournaments, where teams from all over gather and individuals can rack up more than just a couple matches in one night.
The team hosts a tournament for girls and boys teams Dec. 11. Soroco is also hosting an impromptu round robin tournament this weekend after the scheduled Middle Park tournament was canceled.
“It’s good just for the community,” Jay said. “We got little kids that’ll come and watch and get them excited.”
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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