Summer wrestling tends to be a bit different than the winter season. Yes, wrestlers want to win.
They always want to win, but with no titles at stake, there's more room for fun. At camps like last weekend's Paonia Summer Duals, competition was fierce, but wrestlers also enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere.
On day two of the two-day camp, Paonia junior Jesse Reed was competing in an Oklahoma State singlet. Several spectators missed observing his match because they didn't recognize the two-time state champion wearing the Sooners logo.
Reed said he got the singlet from Eagles alumni and 2012 graduate, Adrian Lopez, to whom it was passed down from 2010 graduate, KC Martin. It's a tradition, but just how and when it began and who gave the suit to Martin, Reed said he has no idea. "It's mine for two years and then I have to pass it down," he said.
While they like to have fun, wrestlers are also "looking for the toughest competition," said Paonia head coach and event organizer, Andy Pipher. That wasn't hard to find.
Sophomore Bo Pipher, who was state runner-up his freshman year at 126 pounds, wrestled up at 138 so he could face Dalton Hannigan of Palisade. Pipher lost by major decision to Hannigan in the finals of the Montrose tournament back in January.
In February, Hannigan won the 4A state title. Sunday morning, Pipher redeemed the loss with a 9-3 win over Hannigan.
Bo came into the camp with several off-season matches to his credit, said Andy Pipher, and that helped him win. "The extra matches these kids get makes a huge difference for them."
Paonia senior Tyler Jackson, who had four generations of family there to support him, was making the most of each match.
A torn ACL suffered in football resulted in Jackson missing his junior year of wrestling. He's using summer matches to prepare for his senior year. He plans to wrestle at 182 or 195, since both weights were vacated by seniors. These matches are important, said Jackson, who was 3-3 on the first day of competition. "It helps a lot. There's a lot of competition, a lot of variety on the teams."
Despite a growing number of summer camps to choose from, the Summer Duals camp, now in its fourth year, attracted between 450-500 wrestlers from all classes and from as far away as Wyoming, Utah and Arizona.
The numbers are about the same as in past years, said Pipher. Four lower weights — 85, 90, 95 and 100 — attracted a lot of young wrestlers to the mat.
Despite having just finished a tough football camp, Delta High School, which sent six to state in 2013, brought eight. "We brought a lot of young kids," said coach Luis Meza. One of them was sophomore Kory Mills, who wrestled to a 23-16 varsity record his freshman year.
The roughly 12 matches Mills competed in at Paonia weren't his first of the summer, and they won't be the last.
Delta plans to attend the Western State dual team camp. "Western's always a great camp for us," said Meza. They also have plans to attend camps on the Front Range. "We want to catch some Rockies games, go to Water World," said Meza. Delta's team will also travel to California and will hit the beach and visit Magic Mountain. The trip offers the opportunity to see what wrestlers are doing in another part of the country, said Meza.
Meza said this year's Summer Duals competition was very good, and some kids are picking up extra matches and may get 15 or more before the two-day event is over. And before summer wrestling ends, some wrestlers, like Mills, will have competed in upward of 80 or more matches.
"Just trying to get better," said Meza.
Cedaredge head coach Ted Schanen brought nine wrestlers, including several incoming freshmen and an eighth grader.
With two-thirds of the duals held on Saturday, wrestlers had as many as eight matches in a 12-hour period. Schanen said those back-to-back matches allowed him, and his coaching staff, to make adjustments between matches, then give wrestlers the chance to put them to practical use right away. Most wrestlers were performing better on Sunday as a result.
Summer matches are especially helpful for the younger wrestlers, said Schanen, who is in the process of re-building the middle school program. Some of his freshmen were really good in junior high, but after Saturday they were realizing they need to be more aggressive at the high school level. "They're wrestling some really tough kids," said Schanen. "Some of them have definitely taken some bumps, but they're making progress, for sure."
Schanen will take the team to a camp in Salina, Utah, and to more camps after that to keep the momentum going. "It's summer wrestling," said Schanen. "For some of these guys it can be like a whole extra season."
Thirty teams, some a combination of wrestlers from two or more schools, competed in the duals. There were no winners announced, no team title or most valuable wrestler named. "We don't really keep score," said Pipher. "Just try to keep it even for everybody."
Pipher gave credit to the more than 50 volunteers who helped make the event happen. Colorado Mesa University head coach Chuck Pipher brought 12, including three coaches and nine wrestlers, to officiate.
The event gives an economic boost to area businesses, too, noted Andy Pipher. Friday night, Subway ran out of bread.
But the main thing is getting the kids on the mat. Summer competition is more relaxed, said Pipher, and that takes pressure off the kids so they can enjoy themselves.
"Just let go, get a lot of matches and mat time," said Pipher. "If they have fun in the summer, it helps them to relax more and have fun during the season."blog comments powered by Disqus