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BHS wrestlers shoot to find place at states

Tim Mutrie

The time is now for four Basalt High School wrestlers headed to the state wrestling tournament in Denver.

Seniors Nick McGrath, Kelly Winn, Chris Cottle and Jeremy Everding will face off with the toughest grapplers in Colorado’s Class 3A during the three-day state tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver that opens Thursday. The Basalt wrestlers plan to travel to Denver tonight in order to make a noon weigh-in Thursday. First-round action gets under way later in the afternoon.

“The guys are very excited,” said Basalt coach Rob Grumley. “And as coaches, we’re keying on not being satisfied with just qualifying. We want to go out and place,” meaning top-6.

The only Basalt grappler with state tournament experience, heavyweight Jeremy Everding, went 2-2 at last year’s tourney. With a second place finish at the Western Slope Regional Tournament in Montrose last weekend, and a 22-4 record this year, Everding is ready for states, Grumley said.

“He’s one of the quickest heavyweights I’ve ever seen – maybe the quickest,” Grumley said of the 240-plus pounder who recently accepted a football scholarship at Northern Arizona University. “Obviously his physical strength is a strength; he’s intimidating.”

But as big as Everding is (he’s 6-foot-5 and stacked with muscle), he typically gives up weight to opponents in the heavyweight class, which has a maximum weight of 275 pounds.

“He wrestles like a smaller guy,” Grumley said, “and I think that’s an advantage. He surprises a lot of heavyweights with his speed. And he’s hard to out-muscle too.”

Nick McGrath, a 119-pounder who also took second at the Western Slope Regional Tournament Saturday, is 25-7 this season, including 12 pins.

“Nick’s hard to score on, he’s a good defensive wrestler,” Grumley said. “He’s got great intensity on the mat, and this year, from the beginning to the end, he’s made great strides in his mat presence. Now he’s scoring on the edge of the mat, and with very little time left, and that can make a huge difference in matches.”

“At this point in the season, that can make all the difference in the world,” the coach continued, “because matches get closer and closer as you move up the ranks.”

Basalt’s 125-pounder Kelly Winn took third at regionals Saturday, and boasts a 22-11 record this season.

“His biggest strength is that he’s tough on his feet,” Grumley said. “He tends to score takedowns against just about anyone. As a coach, I’m a firm believer that takedowns win matches because it gives you an early lead.”

Chris Cottle, the fourth BHS wrestler qualified for states, took fourth at regionals, claiming the last of four state qualifying slots at regionals. The 140-pounder posted a 20-13 record during the regular season.

“He’s a little unorthodox,” Grumley said. “He’s really flexible and tends to get himself out of bad situations. He can be deceiving too. He’s a lot stronger than he looks, out-muscling guys who may look stronger than he is.”

Yesterday, the four BHS wrestlers had a light practice, Grumley said. The team plans to work out again today before hitting the road to Denver tonight.

First-round matches in the state tournament will be held at the Pepsi Center from 2 to 7 p.m. Thursday. The semifinals begin Friday at 7 p.m., followed by the finals Saturday night.


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