Depth a good ‘problem’ to have for Basalt wrestling as season starts Friday | AspenTimes.com

Depth a good ‘problem’ to have for Basalt wrestling as season starts Friday

The 2017-18 Basalt High School wrestling team.

The Basalt High School wrestling team's biggest dilemma entering the season is one coach Ryan Bradley can let the athletes sort out themselves. Having graduated only one senior last year, the Longhorns will have plenty of depth across the board.

"A lot of our weights are three deep, so there is going to be some competition for these starting spots," Bradley said. "Wrestling is kind of cool in that the coach doesn't pick who the starters are. The kids wrestle and whoever wins gets to be a starter."

Basalt opens the 2017-18 season on Friday with a dual at Salida — both teams feature many football players who competed against each other in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs only a month ago — before heading to a dual tournament on Saturday, hosted by Buena Vista.

This is the sixth year since Basalt's return to the mat after the program was dormant for a decade. It will be the final season the program is self-funded, as it will finally have the school's financial backing for the 2018-19 season.

"It's pretty exciting for us. I don't know what we are going to stress out about next year," Bradley joked.

The BHS wrestling team also received a new wrestling room — built at the middle school during its remodel — which Bradley said is "probably one of the nicest ones in the state." Add in the deepest senior class since the program's first couple of years back, and you have the ingredients for excitement and optimism heading into the winter.

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"We've just been building up since then and been wondering when we were going to get there," said Bradley, who has coached the team all six years since its return. "We are filling all 14 weight classes on varsity, which I think is pretty awesome. Lot of juniors and seniors in the lineup, which is pretty exciting."

At the top of the list of returners are both of Basalt's 3A state qualifiers from a season ago. Seniors Oswaldo Morales (heavyweight) and William Rivera (195 pounds) both lost in the first round of the 3A state tournament last year, but are expected to be a factor again this winter. Morales, (32-9 last season) returns at heavyweight, while Rivera (19-21 last season) will likely return to 195 pounds but could compete at 220 pounds early in the season.

"William had a patchwork record, but he got it together when he needed to at the end of the season," Bradley said. "Both of those guys are back stronger and in better shape. William has been hitting the weights almost every morning for the past two months. He is looking really tough."

Sophomore Ernesto Lopez is likely to fill the 220-pound slot and Bradley holds the youngster in the same regards as the two state qualifiers from a season ago.

The team's other four seniors — Thomas Wirth (182 pounds), Marcos Archebeque (152 pounds), Sander Elliot (152 pounds) and Henry Vargas (132 pounds) — will also be in the mix throughout the season. Vargas has some competition from juniors Zach Pagan and Nathan Rivera at 132 pounds, although Bradley can see all three competing on varsity by moving up or down a weight class.

"One of our problems is right now we have too many good kids at the same weight class," Bradley said. "It's a good problem to have a competition in our room for the starting spots. But it's also tough when you are coaching and you have three good guys and you want to see them all competing."

Following this weekend, Basalt will next be in action on Dec. 7 when it hosts Coal Ridge and Grand Valley in its home opener. The Longhorns have a second home dual before the holiday break on Dec. 12 when Moffat County visits Basalt.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

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