Last weekend’s Paonia Summer Duals wrestling camp attracted more than 400 wrestlers and generated more than 1,800 matches, according to organizer and Paonia head coach, Andy Pipher. Wrestlers came from as far away as Clark High School in Las Vegas and Thunderbird High School in Phoenix.
“The competition was really good,” said Scottsbluff, Neb., head coach James Miller, whose team has made the 800-plus-mile round trip all five years.
“Paonia was really tough, Pomona was tough. We just got done wrestling Thompson Valley. They were solid.”
Miller brought 15 wrestlers and camped out on school grounds, which were dotted in tents, campers and motor homes. While some teams took in fishing and sight-seeing in their spare time, Miller took his team out for ice cream. “That’s what the kids look forward to every year,” said Miller. “They want to go to Ollie’s.”
Miller said he was about four wrestlers shy of a full roster, but the kids who came got in between 12-15 matches. “They want to wrestle, so that’s why we do this,” said Miller, whose wrestlers are working to get in 40-50 matches this summer and planned to head out for another camp as soon as they got home.
Cedaredge junior Austin Todd spent last summer recovering from a broken right arm. He made his second appearance at state last February, where he placed sixth. Wrestling under new head coach Cutter Garrison (see related story), Todd said he’s working to get in as many competitive matches as possible this summer. “I’ve had some pretty tough ones here,” said Todd, who was preparing to face Tel Kelley of Alamosa. Todd was 1-1 and went into sudden victory overtime in both matches against Kelley at state.
For Richard Flores and the Hotchkiss Bulldogs wrestling squad, the duals are all about mat time.
“Our strength is in our younger kids right now,” said the second-year head coach, who estimates he will have six freshmen, 15 sophomores, one or two juniors and two seniors on the squad next winter. The Bulldogs attended the four-day Western State Colorado University’s Rocky Mountain Wrestling Camp and took about half the squad to the duals. They plan to attend one more team camp before summer is over. “It’s a good experience for us,” said Flores of the Summer Duals. “They’re getting some valuable competition in.”
“Lots of good, quality matches,” said Delta head coach Clayton Curtis, who brought 10 wrestlers, mostly young ones, to the duals. Most of the juniors and seniors were either on vacation or at football camp. While he didn’t monitor dual scores, Curtis estimated that, even without his core of junior and senior wrestlers, his team won most of their duals.
Curtis said he will take 17 to the Rocky Mountain Wrestling Camp at Gunnison this week, and will take another group to the Adams State team camp later this month.
Pipher, whose Eagles are two-time defending state champions, had a full team and doled out some of his younger wrestlers to other teams. Pipher plans to take his team to the Rocky Mountain Wrestling Camp in Gunnison this week, then to Colorado Mesa University for a two-day camp.
There are no special awards given at the duals, and most teams don’t keep count of wins and losses. “It’s all about getting kids on the mat,” said Pipher, and it brings a lot of money into the community. “We’ll do it again next year. It’ll be the second Saturday of June, every year.”