They battled for a close win against Delta in their first match of the season on Thursday. And with little rest moved on to a tournament two days later at Colorado Mesa University.
Montrose bested Grand Junction High School 42-36 in their first dual of the tournament. Nearly all of the varsity wrestlers earned points. Keegan Harmon and Kordell Bradshaw wrestled for wins by points, while the rest of their teammates, Jason Cooper, Jeremiah Benuelos, Matthew Sandoval, Cole Panter, Geordon Hudson and Marcus Velasquez, won by pinning their opponents.
That success was short lived, however. The team lost the next three matches, first to Paonia 52-21, with Benuelos, Sandoval, Bradshaw, Hudson, Velasquez, and Panter getting wins. In the next two rounds Montrose lost to Central 36-30, then to Cedaredge 42-40, in a close contest. The boys came back with a win in the last match, taking Coal Ridge 48-30.
Dual meets are a struggle for the Indians, since they have no wrestlers in five of the weight classes. That means they forfeits 30 points every dual. Although this did not prove to be a problem when the Indians took on Gunnison last Thursday (Dec. 8) in their second league dual of the season. The team dominated Gunnison, only allowing them to score six points in the match.
The Indians then attended the Roosevelt Tournament last weekend in Greely, faring much better in an open tournament setting, rather than duals. Three Montrose wrestlers, Panter, Hudson and Bradshaw, wrestled to second-place finishes in their divisions at this big 4A Front Range meet. But placing fourth in the team standings at the tournament was “nothing to brag about,” according to head coach Kevin Passehl.
“We are a better tournament team because the boys can score points individually. It is hard for us to win in duals,” Passehl said.
To compensate for the team’s disadvantage from the empty weight classes, the wrestlers work hard for a pin in their matches. A pin earns the team six points as opposed to three for a win on points.
“We are really pushing to get a pin. It is a good way to make up points,” Passehl said.
Although the team has only has nine varsity wrestlers compared to a typical 14-man roster, Montrose is chocked full of experience. Three returning state qualifiers are leading the way. Hudson, Bradshaw, and Velasquez all qualified in the top four in their weight class in the regional tournament last year. Last year’s team placed sixth overall at state.
“The older kids that have been around are helping the younger kids by leading by example,” Passehl said.
Passehl says all three of the wrestlers with state experience are having good seasons so far, and all nine of the varsity boys are solid wrestlers. Although the team is missing wrestlers for the heavier weight classes, the boys are scrappy wrestlers, able to throw down a lot of pins on their opponents.
This year’s team has promise, but Passehl looks realistically to the future. He hopes the team will be able to be in the top five at state, improving their place from last year. The state tournament is in February.
“We have a long ways to go this year to get to where we need to be,” Passehl said.
Next up for the Indians will be Olathe, in a home dual.