Steamboat wrestling will ‘elevate expectations’ in 2021-22 season
The Steamboat Springs High School wrestling team is days away from kicking off the 2021-22 season, which will have tournaments and more travel, things last year’s season with COVID-19 did not have.
Tournaments build endurance and are an efficient way for wrestlers to see a lot of opponents and gain experience. The Sailors start the season Wednesday with duals at Summit but spend most of December at tournaments in Middle Park, Soroco, Grand Junction and Eagle Valley.
“It’s exciting just to be back in the room, and there’s a lot of school spirit this year,” head coach Jordan Bonifas said. “Our goal is just to get better every week and be ready to go at regionals and qualify as many kids as possible (for state).”
The motto this year is “elevate the expectation,” which Bonifas sees as working on the mental aspect of the sport. He’s been preaching controlling what you can, wrestling with confidence and not focusing on the wins or losses.
The team has grown a little over the past few years, with almost 20 on the roster, including a pair of girls.
Steamboat has a few strong returners in Cole Muhme, Aiden George and Jacob Skolnick. Most coming back to the team have wrestled in past years and want to improve on 2021 results.
Muhme finished fourth at regionals last winter, which normally would have sent him to state, but with the tournament restructured and smaller due to COVID-19, only the top two in each weight class qualified.
“I think the sky is the limit with him,” Bonifas said. “Last year, he showed a lot of mental maturity, which is so important in this sport. I’m excited about that, and he’s stepping into the leadership role.”
He and senior Adalia George are the only returning state qualifiers. George qualified for the second-ever Colorado State Girls Wrestling State Championships in 2020. She had a concussion at the end of last season, so she couldn’t compete at regionals to qualify last year.
George will practice and compete as a Sailor but travel with the growing Soroco High School girls team.
“I almost had some unfinished business,” George said. “I had a really good season up until I got a concussion, which took a while. I didn’t get cleared until summer to wrestle again. … This is my senior year, so just leave it out on the mat. That’s really all you can do.”
Bonifas thinks his juniors and seniors will really step up this year.
“Adalia, she’s a senior. She’s been in the system, and she just has an awesome attitude,” he said. “Something happens between your junior and senior year where there’s a lot of confidence. Layton Morrison, although he’s a new wrestler, he’s really stepped into that leadership rule.”
Skolnick, who is a junior this year, is ready to have a breakout year not just for himself but with the team.
“Last year, we were starting to scratch the surface of just how much potential we can have and just how hard we can work,” he said. “I think the coach’s different approach this year will help us truly scratch that surface. A lot of it is, it’s starting to click. Our motto is ‘elevate the expectations,’ and that’s one thing we’re really going to do.”
Dec. 1 - Summit Duals
Dec. 4 - Middle Park Tournament
Dec. 11 - Soroco Tournament
Dec. 17-18 - Grand Junction Tournament
Jan. 8 - Eagle Valley Tournament
Jan. 13 - Steamboat Springs Duals
Jan. 15 - Hayden Tournament
Jan. 22 - Northglenn Tournament
Jan. 27 - Glenwood Springs Duals
Jan. 29 - Valley Tournament
Feb. 3 - Routt County Triangular
Feb. 5 - Western Slope Championships
Feb. 11-12 - Regionals
Feb. 17-19 - State Championships
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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The Steamboat Springs High School hockey team is now 5-2 following a 3-0 home victory over Glenwood Springs on Friday, Jan. 14.