Basalt’s ‘Big Z’ wins regional wrestling title
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Sophomore Mike Zerfoss captured the 275-pound heavyweight division title at the Class 3A West Regional Wrestling Tournament in Montrose on Saturday, becoming the first Basalt High School wrestler in four years to win a regional crown.
Zerfoss, the No. 1 heavyweight seed at regionals, won three matches, including a semifinal battle with Olathe’s Brent Stanfield ” the wrestler who dealt Zerfoss his only loss to an in-region opponent during the regular season ” by pin just two weeks earlier in Eagle Valley no less.
Zerfoss returned the favor this time, pinning Stanfield and then pinning Kyle Robbins, in the first period of the finals, for the title.
A Glenwood Springs High School student who wrestles for Basalt High (which has the valley’s only wrestling program), Zerfoss ” nicknamed “Big Z” ” and three other BHS teammates also earned berths to the Colorado State Wrestling Tournament, slated for Thursday to Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (The top-four finishers in each weight class at regionals advance to the state tourney.)
As a team, BHS finished seventh overall at the 10-team regional tourney, with 98 points. Olathe won the regional title with 205 points, edging Hotchkiss by one point.
Basalt, a program that sent just one wrestler to the state tournament the last two years, will now travel to Denver with a foursome representing three different high schools ” Basalt, Roaring Fork and Glenwood. The foursome includes Zerfoss at heavyweight, junior Matt Aten at 140 pounds, senior Kaleb Nye at 160 pounds and senior Garrett Jammaron at 189.
“My big thing is that I don’t want them to be satisfied with just qualifying [for the state tourney],” said Basalt coach Rob Grumley. “I want them to have higher expectations that that. And Big Z’s that kind of guy. He sets his expectations pretty high and I don’t think he’s satisfied with just getting there.”
The Colorado state tournament “is one of the biggest high school state tournaments in the country,” Grumley continued. It includes all classes of schools ” from the tiniest to the biggest ” and features largely nonstop wrestling on at least 10 mats spread out over the floor of the Pepsi Center.
“Wrestling’s not very big in this valley, but to get a kid over there, to see it and participate in it, it’s a very big deal. It’s unlike anything in any other sport in Colorado.”
Aten, who attends Glenwood Springs High School, finished second in the 140-pound class at regionals to earn his place in the state dance. The No. 3 seed, Aten upset the No. 2 seed in the semifinals before losing to No. 1 seed Billy Keating of Hotchkiss in the finals by a score of 6-3.
“He obviously would’ve loved to win that match, against a kid who had beaten him twice this year and pretty handily, but he certainly had a good match this time,” said Grumley.
Basalt High senior Kaleb Nye, at 160, finished fourth to squeak into states. Nye, who has struggled with a shoulder injury last season and this year, was not seeded in the regional tournament because he lacked the requisite number of regular season matches. He finished 2-2 on the day, “outstanding for not being on the mat much ” three or four weeks since his last match ” and basically being the last seed in the weight class,” said Grumley.
“Halfway through the season last year he had shoulder surgery and he was done and it’s the same shoulder he’s had trouble with this year,” the coach continued. “So it’s great to see him get his first opportunity to go to states. And with his skills, I think he’s got a good shot. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do well.”
Garrett Jammaron, a senior at Roaring Fork and a 189 pounder, also finished fourth at regionals. Jammaron, “another guy that hasn’t been on the mat for a month due to injuries,” Grumley said, lost his semifinal match in double overtime.
“As far as conditioning goes, that was definitely a factor for him,” the coach continued. “He was a little tired but he found a way to win some matches.”
Basalt’s Chris Black, at 135 pounds, and Mike Buster, at 215 pounds, both finished fifth, one spot shy of qualifying for the state tournament. Buster lost another double-overtime match for fourth place, Grumley said.
“That was a tough one to handle,” he said. “But he wrestled well and pretty easily we could’ve gotten six through to states. Sometimes they go your way, sometimes they don’t.”
This week, Grumley said the team will remain in tact so the wrestlers who are going to the state tournament will have training partners in practice. “We’ll keep it light,” said Grumley. “Not a lot of live wrestling, a lot of work on things that we need to zero in on.
“And trying to get their heads right, too.”
Let’s make some skiing predictions. I made my X Games snowboarding predictions a day earlier and remain only mildly lukewarm in terms of confidence, but maybe I’ll feel better about the skiers.