Basalt wrestlers split home opener
The Basalt High wrestling team opened their season on a winning note Thursday with a 54-21 victory over Steamboat Springs in the first of two matches that night.
Basalt, 11-5 in dual meets last season, dropped the second match 45-34 to Eagle Valley during the tri-meet action Thursday.
On Saturday, the Basalt grapplers rebounded to peg an impressive fifth place finish at an eight-team, invitational tournament at Hotchkiss.
“It was a tough, tough tournament,” said Basalt coach Rob Grumley. “It really tells us where we’re at by starting with that caliber of tournament, and that’s nice.”
The Hotchkiss tournament featured several top Colorado teams, including last year’s Class 3A state champs Hotchkiss; Delta, a top-ten Class 4A team; Alamosa, a perennial Class 4A powerhouse; and Paonia, the Class 3A third place team last season.
Three Basalt wrestlers won their divisions at the tournament and two wrestlers took fourth to lead the team into the fifth place spot, behind Hotchkiss, Delta, Alamosa and Paonia. Basalt scored ahead of Gunnison, Norwood, Buena Vista and Cedaredge.
Senior Kelly Winn, wrestling at 125-pounds, improved his individual record this season to 6-0 by winning his class at the Hotchkiss Tourney.
“He’s had six matches and six first period pins,” said assistant coach Matt Hauptly. “He was a .500 wrestler last year and he’s really turned it on, especially at Hotchkiss, which had phenomenal competition.”
Jeremy Everding, a senior at Carbondale’s Roaring Fork High School who wrestles with Basalt because it’s the only team in the valley, also remained undefeated through the weekend.
The 230-pounder who wrestles in the 275-pound heavyweight class won his class at Hotchkiss, though he has yet to face a real test this season.
“He looked great; he’s moving well and he’s a lot quicker than he was last year,” coach Grumley said. “He’s really finishing his moves nicely and he’s being a little more aggressive. I was impressed.”
Added Hauptly: “In the finals, Jeremy pinned his opponent in the second period – the guy was 270 [pounds] and he just tossed the kid around.”
Basalt’s Nick McGrath also won at Hotchkiss, wrestling in the 119-pound class.
Dual and Tri-meets, like the one Basalt hosted Thursday vs. Eagle Valley and Steamboat, don’t count for or against a teams’ chances of advancing to the state tournament, Hauptly explained. Wrestlers qualify for states by placing in the top four of regional tournaments, which begin in early February.
“We’ve gone out of our way to schedule tough teams and tough tournaments,” Hauptly said, “so that when we get to state the kids aren’t intimidated.”
“I’m expecting that we’ll send between seven and nine kids to the state tournament,” Hauptly added. “And there’s a couple more guys who could pull it out.”
Basalt wrestles next this weekend in a tournament in Cedaredge. The team doesn’t host another meet until Jan. 25, when they roll out the welcome mat for Meeker.
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.