Freshmen wrestlers prove future is bright |

Freshmen wrestlers prove future is bright

FARMER’S KORNER – A long season of learning came to an end Thursday for seven Summit High School wrestlers on a night when the Tigers almost won their first dual in three years.

First about the near win: It came down, as it should, to an overtime period between Summit captain Aaron Nelson and Englewood’s Kevin Norman. Nelson forced the extra period with a reversal in the final seconds after going down 9-7 in the final minute.

The team score was 25-24 Summit, and Nelson’s match would determine the winner.

“It was in the captain’s hands,” said Tigers coach Scott Giles, “and it was (a matter of) inches.”

Nelson – who was wrestling two weight classes up to avoid accepting a forfeit in his final regular season match as a Tiger – was taken down in overtime, and the Pirates escaped with a 27-25 win.

Freshman Andrew Teal moved up one class to 160 to accommodate Nelson’s desire to wrestle at 152. Englewood didn’t have a man at Nelson’s natural weight, 145.

Without the seven freshmen, Thursday’s near win would have been impossible – they make up more than half the Tigers’ roster. On most teams they’d be on junior varsity. At Summit they were forced into the varsity fire.

“It was really hard as a freshman,” said 189-pounder Chris Lleres. “In my weight class, everyone I see is a foot taller than me with no fat on them. So it was really intimidating.”

All but two of the freshmen – Lleres, Teal, Stephan Collard, Dan Kocher, Tim Gurule, Ethan Colvin and Brady Brunvard – recorded a victory this season. Only Brunvard and Kocher went winless. Colvin didn’t finish the season, and Andrew Vawter-Beaird joined midseason.

The group expects to stay together. If it does, and more freshman classes come in as strong as it did, perhaps the end of that three-year streak of dual losses is in sight.

“If we all stick to it,” Lleres said, “by the time we’re sophomores, juniors and seniors … this team will be unstoppable.”

Part of the equation is recruiting athletes for the upcoming middle school season. The seventh- and- eighth-graders, after all, are the freshmen’s future teammates.

To that end, the ninth-graders went to Summit Middle School before Thursday’s meet to help Giles give a video presentation on the sport. The hope is that next year’s incoming class will be just as big and determined as this year’s.

“There are going to be a lot more freshmen next year,” assured Collard. “It’s gonna keep building.”

Although the regular season ended Thursday, the freshmen aren’t quite done. The Future Champions tournament, planned for Saturday at SHS, was cancelled. Instead, the Tiger freshmen will travel to Bear Creek for a junior varsity meet.

After that, Lleres, Teal and probably two other freshmen will get a taste of postseason wrestling at regionals Feb. 14.

“They’re gonna go see the animal,” Giles warned.

Seniors Jon Wheeler, who won Thursday, Zac Conklin, who lost, and Nelson will be vying for a berth in the state tournament at regionals. Junior Jacob Smith also got a win Thursday.

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