Several Steamboat Springs wrestlers have shot at state

For the first time in four years, several Steamboat Springs wrestlers head to the Region 3 tournament with realistic hopes of advancing to the 2006 Colorado State Wrestling Championships.

Increased confidence and better overall records have given two Sailors No. 3 seeds heading into Friday's opening day of competition at Grand Junction High School.

The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to the state tournament in Denver.

Sophomore Houston Mader and senior Andy Morell are Steamboat's highest-seeded wrestlers for regionals. Mader wrestles at 130 pounds, and Morell wrestles at 135 pounds. Teammate Luke Rummel, a sophomore, is a No. 6 seed at 140 pounds, but his overall record is misleading, coach Sean McCarthy said.

"He's peaking at the right time," McCarthy said. "He has to be one of the best six seeds in the bracket. At the beginning of the year, he hadn't found his weight class. He wrestled 160 to 152 down to 140. I watched all the tapes from the beginning of the year, and he was outsized by a lot."

Steamboat's 189-pounder Joey Melius is the No. 4 seed. The seedings were decided Sunday, but nothing is set until Friday's tournament is under way in Grand Junction.

"We fight for seeds and hope for no changes," McCarthy said. "I don't think there will be many changes."

Steamboat also will take Tyler Jones (119), Andrew Bal--vanz (125), Skylar Hughes (160) and Alex Centner (215). Jones, Balvanz and Hughes will be the bottom seeds, but the freshmen will gain valuable experience by participating this weekend.

Centner is a No. 13 seed but has not wrestled much during the past month because of an injury. McCarthy hopes the junior can catch higher-seeded wrestlers off guard.

"We've been trying to take care of his injury, but he wants to wrestle anyway," McCarthy said. "Regionals are important to him."

Injuries will keep A.J. Car--mack (145) and Ben DeLine (152) out of regionals, though both may have had a chance to qualify for state. Joe Nerney will wrestle in Carmack's place at 145 pounds.

"Ben is out with a bad knee, which is too bad because there were only 11 kids at 152, and Ben would have probably been a four seed," McCarthy said.

Steamboat is in Region 3 with Battle Mountain, Conifer, Delta, Eagle Valley, Evergreen, Glenwood Springs, Golden, Jefferson, Moffat County, Mon--tezuma-Cortez, Montrose, Pal--isade, Ralston Valley, Rifle and Summit.

The Region 3 tournament begins Friday with the preliminaries, quarterfinals and first-round consolation matches. The tournament concludes Sat----urday at Grand Junction High School.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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