Four Longhorn wrestlers pin down berths to state tourney
At the Western Slope regional wrestling tournament Saturday, four seniors with the Basalt High wrestling team earned berths to the state tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver beginning Thursday.
The wrestlers – Nick McGrath at 119 pounds, Kelly Winn (125), Chris Cottle (140) and heavyweight Jeremy Everding – led BHS to an eighth-place finish among 11 teams that competed in the regional tourney Saturday in Montrose. At regionals, only the top four wrestlers from each weight class advance to the state tournament. Basalt senior Mica Kentz, who was having a strong season, missed the cut, losing to a wrestler he had beaten handily during the regular season.
“They did what they had to do,” said Basalt coach Rob Grumley. “They all knew what they needed to do and they did it. All but Mica.
“Mica got upset big-time,” he continued. “In my opinion, he’s the best wrestler on the team; he just had an off day. He’s been wrestling the last three weeks with a broken foot, but he’d never use that for an excuse.”
McGrath, 25-8 on the season, went 2-1 at the regional tourney to claim second place in the 119-pound class. McGrath, the No. 3 seed entering the regional tourney, beat No. 2 seed Jeremy Gray of Olathe to advance to the finals. In the finals, McGrath lost 10-2 to Jamie Brasfield of Rangely.
“Nick had a great tournament,” Grumley said.
Kelly Winn, the No. 3 seed at 125 pounds, went 3-1 Saturday to take third place. At 140 pounds, Chris Cottle went 3-2 and took fourth, good enough to advance to the state tourney.
Jeremy Everding, a Roaring Fork High School senior who wrestles with Basalt, lost in the heavyweight finals to take second-place at regionals. Everding, who recently accepted a scholarship to play football at Northern Arizona, lost to Allen Macchione, the Class 3A runner-up last season.
“It was tied 3-3 going into the third period,” Grumley said, “and then Jeremy made a mistake and got pinned.
“Jeremy’s capable of beating him,” the coach continued, “and he’ll have to to do well at the state tournament.”
Everding, who took sixth at the state tourney last year, is the sole Basalt grappler with state wrestling tournament experience.
“He knows what to expect,” Grumley said. “I think that’ll benefit the other kids too.”
The four Basalt wrestlers plan to travel to Denver Wednesday night in order to make weigh-ins on Thursday, Grumley said. First-round matches will be held Thursday afternoon, followed by semifinal matches Friday and the finals on Saturday.
“It’s one of the better state tournaments in the country,” Grumley said, “because all four classes have their finals at the same place at the same time. You get to see every wrestler who qualified for states.”
Prior to Thursday, Grumley said the team will have light workouts this week to fine-tune for the big tourney.
“We want to work on things we saw as potential problems and, of course, keep our conditioning up,” he said. “I’m trying to keep them focused and shooting for placing at states. I don’t want them to be satisfied with qualifying, I want them to win some matches.”
“Sending four kids to state is good for us,” Grumley continued. “We’re not a powerhouse in wrestling yet, but we’re working on it.”
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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.