SHS wrestling aims high under new coach
FARMER’S KORNER – The last time Summit High School sent a wrestler to the state tournament in Denver was in 1998. Thanks to aggressive recruiting, Jim Melvin hopes that will change this year.An assistant coach for the last three years, Melvin took over the squad this year. He has doubled the size of the team, after last year’s team struggled through the season with only five players.Melvin has all five of them back, and has added a strong contingent of freshmen and sophomores to bring the roster up to 11.”I’m hoping to have someone in nine weight fields this season,” he said, adding that filling up as many of the Colorado High School Activities Association’s 14 weight classes helps make the program more productive.
Melvin also enlisted the help of his upperclassmen in the recruiting effort, and senior Charles Keeling and junior Andrew Vawter-Beerd came through.Keeling brought in several of his teammates from the football team, while Vawter-Beerd brought in his younger brother, Patrick.”I’ve personally recruited as many kids as I can,” Keeling said. The Tigers’ season begins Dec. 2 with a match at Summit High School against Class 4A Jeffco League rival Elizabeth.”I think we’ll fair well against our Jeffco opponents,” Melvin said. “But it all comes down to regionals.”
Melvin is talking about the Western Region Tournament on Feb. 4-5 in Montrose.”We’re in the toughest 4A region in the state,” Melvin said. “So we have the toughest competition.” Melvin has circled Jan. 22 on his calendar – the date of the Rifle Invitational, one of Summit’s only chances to see its competition in the Western Slope region.”That’s when we’ll get a taste of what we’re all about,” he said. “I’m really hopeful we’ll push two or three guys to postseason play. I don’t think it’s out of our reach.” The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to state, and that’s what Keeling is aiming for.
“I won’t be satisfied with just regions,” Keeling said. “I’m feeling good. This is the strongest I’ve ever been. I have high hopes and good expectations of myself and my team.”The team is also upbeat, knowing that any success by their senior leader could translate into success for the team down the road. “We’ve got more numbers,” said junior Tim Gurule. “We’ve got a new coach, and he’s sharing his knowledge. Hopefully we can carry that to the mat and get a few wins.” Richard Chittick can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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