Rams top local wrestlers

Iacovetto continues quest for second state title

— With the all-important Regional meets one month away, the Hayden, Soroco and Steamboat Springs wrestling teams continue to improve and refine technique.

The Rams continue to win.

At its most recent tournament in Paonia, Soroco placed seven wrestlers in the top four, while taking fifth overall. The Tigers also competed in the tournament.

Rams sophomore Whit Gates was the lone champion for both schools. He defeated Hayden's Kelly Bruchez in the 152-pound title match to claim top honors.

Tigers coach John Svoboda said it was a match Bruchez could have won, as the senior went up five points on Gates in the first period. In the second, however, Bruchez got caught and thrown to his back, resulting in Gates' pin and victory.

The Paonia win was the third tournament crown for Gates this year.

It was Bruchez's first tournament of the season; the Hayden senior was sidelined with an injury.

Soroco senior Josh Iacovetto, back wrestling after suffering a broken leg, continues his journey toward a second state title.

The 112-pounder took second in Paonia against competition he will face again at Regionals.

The same is true of Hayden. Svoboda said many of the region's southern schools were represented in the Jan. 11 Paonia tournament, making for a tough field but one with which his kids need to be familiar.

Sophomore Jake Doolin claimed second place at 130 pounds for the Tigers. He won the Cedaredge and West Grand tournaments previously.

"Jake's doing pretty good," Svoboda said. "He's kind of a loose wrestler. We'll be trying to firm up his wrestling in the next month. We're going to try to do that with Kelly, too."

The Tigers' Alan Stark took fourth place at 215 pounds.

In addition to Gates and Josh Iacovetto, five other Rams scored points for their teams.

Sophomore Matt Iacovetto took second at 119. Senior Brandon Ager, previously undefeated, came in third at 135. Senior C.J. Horn also took third wrestling at 275.

Soroco received a pair of fourth-place finishes from sophomore Ray Trout at 103 and senior Cody Denning at 140.

The Steamboat Springs team competed in the Eagle Valley Tournament on Jan. 11, but coach Jay Muhme said senior Will Zimmerer is the only wrestler in his room that continues to stand on the podium, rotating between first and second overall finishes.

That doesn't mean, however, that positives aren't being achieved even in defeat, especially by the underclassmen, Muhme said.

Freshman Walker Hammond recently won his first match of the season, which Muhme said was certainly a highlight.

"He decisively won," Muhme said. "He beat the kid and had him on his back several times. With the upperclassmen, I think they are letting their record bother them more than the freshmen. I just think it's a matter of them getting their self-confidence up."

Another highlight in recent weeks, Muhme said, was Steamboat's dual meet victory over Battle Mountain, 42-15.

Despite forfeiting at two weights -- a free 12 points for the Huskies -- Steamboat defeated Battle Mountain convincingly for the school's first dual win in roughly two years.

All three coaches from the Routt County schools continue to look to upcoming tournaments, but the focus is clearly on Regionals. A wrestler can lose every match before Regionals, do well at that meet and advance to the state tournament in Denver at the end of February.

Former state qualifiers, like Josh Iacovetto and Kelly Bruchez, will continue to condition and focus on a return trip to state after missing the first portion of the season with injuries.

Former state qualifiers, such as Doolin and Zimmerer, will look to improve upon the little things to help lead them back to Denver for a shot at placing this season.

And wrestlers such as Horn and Hammond will fight for their first trip to state.

Everyone agrees there is a still a lot of work to be done.

Up next for Steamboat and Hayden is a trip to Salida for the two-day Rob Mickel Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

Soroco has one week off before traveling to Leadville Jan. 25.

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