Surging Basalt wrestlers to host Battle Mountain
The Aspen Times
The surging Basalt High School wrestling program will be in the spotlight, in the center of the circle, this week.
The Longhorns, with a built-from-the-ground-up roster of wrestlers, will host Battle Mountain in a dual Thursday at the Big House at Basalt High School.
The home match, with a large crowd expected, is part of the wrestling scene rebuild by head coach Ryan Bradley and his assistants.
“This is the biggest week all year for us,” Bradley said as the Longhorns prepped for Thursday’s 6 p.m. start at the big gym at BHS. “This should be a good match. They have some studs. And we have some good wrestlers.”
More importantly, he said the Longhorns will fill ever weight class as their overall numbers climbed to 23 this year.
But make that a young 23, the Basalt coach said.
Twenty of Basalt’s 23 wrestlers are freshmen and sophomores.
“We’ve been working hard and working hard in the classroom,” said Bradley, with all of his starters eligible for competition.
The busy week for the BHS wrestlers will start Wednesday with a road trip to Summit High School near Frisco in Summit County.
On Friday and Saturday, the Longhorns will wrestle in Salida, opening with a dual on Friday.
On Saturday, Basalt will join the field for the annual Salida Invitational wrestling tournament.
“Summit has a smaller team. They’re building a program,” Bradley said, adding that he recalled starting the Basalt program and teams were unwilling to travel to Basalt for matches.
“We want to help them build over there,” Bradley said.
Next year, Summit will travel to Basalt for a dual.
He said the young Longhorns are learning to wrestle the full 6 minutes of high school matches.
The BHS seniors returning with experience include Olmer Marquez and Jack Huggard.
Marquez currently is ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 3A at 220 pounds. He finished fourth at state last year.
Marquez has yet to win a tournament this season, Bradley said. He was forced to wrestle at heavyweight early in the season before settling at 220.
He also tangled with a defending state champion from Buena Vista.
He had a big weekend last weekend, Bradley said, with a win over a top wrestler from Grand Valley.
“He’s looking at the No. 1 seed in the region and going to state again,” Bradley said.
Huggard, who wrestles at 182 pounds, is the other senior on the team. He’s a student at Aspen High School who wrestles for the Longhorns because Aspen has no wrestling program.
He’s been a part of Basalt wrestling since eighth grade.
“He’s wrestled all four years,” Bradley said. “Jack’s very strong.”
The AHS football player has placed in all the varsity tournaments this season.
“We’re hoping he can turn the corner and make it to state,” Bradley said.
The Basalt junior on the squad is Daniel Barnes, wrestling at 126 this year.
“He’s gotten stronger. He was in the weight room all summer,” Bradley said. “There’s been a ton of improvement.”
He’s placed in several JV tournaments and won several varsity matches this year, the BHS coach said.
At 106, Basalt will rely on Zach Pagan and Henry Vargas with Pagan getting the nod this week. He’s coming off a tournament title at West Grand (Kremmling).
Pagan is a freshman. Vargas is a sophomore.
At 113, freshman Nathan Rivera will take the mat for Basalt.
“He’s been very close to placing in some tournaments,” Bradley said. “He always wrestles tough. We’re excited for him this year.”
At 120, Basalt sophomore Albert Marquez has recorded several comeback wins this season. He’s been a part of the program since eighth grade.
At 132, freshman Tai Kim and sophomore Cooper Braun will split duties.
“These guys are pretty even,” Bradley said. “They are getting a lot of experience.”
At 138 pounds, Julius Vazquez is coming off injury. He’s likely to wrestle again next week.
Freshman Ryan Borchelt is on at 145 pounds for Basalt.
“He’s tough. He’s aggressive,” Bradley said. “We want to channel that aggression into points and wins.”
He said Borchelt takes his shots even against upperclassmen.
At 152 pounds, sophomore Alex Alberto is back from a year ago.
“He was our outstanding wrestler last year,” Bradley said. “He’s one of the real leaders on this team as sophomore. We have really high expectations for him.”
At 160 pounds, sophomore Marcos Archebeque is returning from a broken thumb and awaiting medical clearance.
At 170, sophomore Thomas Wirth is set for duty.
“He’s gaining confidence,” Bradley said. “He’s right on the cusp (of placing in a varsity tournament).”
Sophomore William Rivera is ticketed for 195 pounds in the Basalt lineup.
“He’s had a great year. He’s won some JV tournaments,” Bradley said.
He was out briefly but is back from injury. He’s another of the football players on the BHS wrestling team.
At heavyweight, sophomore Oswaldo Morales wears the Basalt colors.
“He’s having a great year,” Bradley said. “He’s improving every time he steps on the mat.”
The 6-1, 250-pound Morales is stronger this year.
And he’s more strategic in his wrestling, Bradley said, adding that the quick heavyweight also excels from the down position — a rarity among heavyweights.
“He always finds a way to score from down … he has a big advantage over a lot of heavyweights with his conditioning,” Bradley said.
The Basalt coach said the team is looking forward to today’s road match and more matches on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“We’re excited,” he said.
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