Summit High School: Wrestlers to wrap up historic season at regionals, Friday
summit daily news
Summit County, Co Colorado
FARMER’S KORNER ” Summit High junior Diego Andraca was restless as he ate dinner with his family after a recent wrestling tournament.
Earlier in the day, Andraca had lost back-to-back matches for the first time all season, and it wasn’t sitting well with the Tiger wrestling team’s co-captain.
So he went to the gym, ran, did some ab work and hit the bench press.
“This year, my goal is to qualify for state, then next year I want to win it,” Andraca said. ” … You have to work hard to achieve goals.”
Andraca’s late-night workouts have become a common thing throughout the season and has helped to show the rest of the Summit team the sacrifice that is needed to win, to become a champion.
“Diego is the epitome of what you want as a coach,” SHS head coach Jack Byrne said, referring to the junior’s incomparable work ethic. “When I was first named coach, I called him and Zach (Campbell) 10 minutes later and asked them to be my captains. You couldn’t ask for better leaders on any team.”
Now, as Byrne’s first season as head coach is winding down, it appears that he and his captains have helped lead a wrestling program that was once on the brink of being eliminated to a 3-2 record on the season.
Summit now prepares for its regional tournament, Friday, where, according to Byrne, as many as three Tigers have the chance to advance on to the state tournament.
Regardless if any Summit grapplers make it out of regionals, the Tigers have already had one of their best seasons in school history. Besides winning three dual meets to finish the year above .500, Summit also placed in the top-three in two tournaments, highlighted by a third-place finish at a 17-team tournament at Brighton High School. It was Summit’s best finish at a tournament since 1998.
Both Campbell and junior Nate Roe took home individual titles at Brighton.
In fact, counting both Campbell and Roe, Summit has had six individual tournament champions this season. The other four were sophomore Will McDonald and freshmen Gregorio Munoz, Robert Rauda and Jon Ramirez.
The SHS wrestlers credit the majority of the team’s turn around to Byrne and his two assistants Mark Wall and Nathan Trice, who both wrestled at the NCAA Division I level.
Byrne is quick to direct the praise back to his kids, though, saying that it was their work ethic that brought them to this point.
“If kids are working hard, putting in the time and the sacrifice, they are going to get what they deserve,” Byrne said. “We’ve had a lot of new guys (this season) but they’ve just improved and learned twice as fast as any kids I’ve ever seen. They’re just great.”
Campbell, who’s wrestled since grade school, said that Byrne and his assistants have changed the dynamic of the team, making day-to-day practices much more entertaining while giving expert instruction.
“He taught me how to wrestle like I should wrestle,” Campbell said of his coach.
“I used to just be kind of a bully and try to throw people, which doesn’t work.
” … I’ve improved so much that I wish I was still a sophomore, because by the time I was a senior with that coaching I feel like I could be undefeated or something.”
Roe originally joined the team as a training tool for football, but after the success he found this season, wrestling has become more than just a good workout for him.
“Now that I’ve won a couple of matches, I liked it a lot more,” the junior said. “At first, I hated it, because I thought I’d rather just lift than work by (butt) off. But now it’s good.”
Like many of the other first-year wrestlers on the team, Roe is excited to come back again next year.
And that may be just what the SHS program needs to continue to build.
“I think that this year, we’re really starting in the right direction,” Byrne said. ” … The proof is in the results.”
Byrne also pointed to the community support as an example for how far the team has come. At any given meet, students, cheerleaders and faculty show up to give the team support.
“Two years ago, we were the guy at the party that was so uncool that no one even noticed them,” Byrne said. ” … Now, if Summit gets on the mat, you better pack a lunch because we’re going to bring it.”
The regional tournament will take place Friday in Montrose.
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