SWL title up for grabs this weekend

No. 10 Wildcats hope to land long-awaited crownSWL title up for grabs this weekend

The Fruita Monument High School wrestling team wants to do something it hasn’t done in quite a while.

The Class 5A No. 10-ranked Wildcats are hoping to win their first Southwestern League title for any of the current wrestlers on the team.

“It’s always nice to have the bragging rights,” Fruita senior Clayton Muller said. “We came close our freshman year. I think Montrose was the only team to beat us. It would be cool, but we’re mostly trying to buff out all the little mistakes for regionals.”

On Saturday, all six Southwestern League programs will wrestle for the league title. The dual tournament begins at 9 a.m. at Central High School. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for children, students and senior citizens age 65-older, and $2 for high school students with school identification.

“I think we’ve got the talent, and we work hard,” Muller said. “It’s just a matter of going out there and wrestling. We’ve got to put together our best day, and we can come away with it.”

Central won the SWL title last season. Grand Junction won it in 2011.

“I expect to wrestle well this weekend, and we’ll go from there,” Fruita coach Dan Van Hoose said.  “We have an opportunity to win a conference title. If we get it, we get it. If we don’t, we don’t.

“It’s going to boil down to pins, who gets them and who stays off their back.”

Fruita Monument appeared on its way to an undefeated dual-record wrestling season when it hit a bump in the road. Montrose surprised the banged-up Wildcats two weeks ago.

In the 39-30 loss to the Indians, two Fruita wrestlers were out and another was injured in the dual.

Fruita Monument defeated Montrose 55-18 in the season-opening Maverick Duals tournament in early December.

“Even if we had Ian, he might have stuck the kid and we win 36-33,” Van Hoose said, referring to Ian Konrad, one of the Wildcats’ best wrestlers.

Van Hoose’s team is still banged up. Aidan Woomer, who was injured in the Montrose dual, is waiting for results of an MRI. He could be out the rest of the season.

Van Hoose will hold out Isaac Rodriguez, who is 22-4 at 145 pounds, with a minor injury, but Rodriguez is expected back next week for regionals.

“We have other guys banged up,” Van Hoose said. “It could be anybody’s ball game. I’m kind of hoping everyone one else is in the same boat.

“What’s important is regionals and state. That experience is irreplaceable.”

Fruita isn’t the only team that likely will miss a wrestler for the dual tournament. Montrose’s Jeremiah Banuelos is not listed on the roster for the tournament.

Regardless of how the matches unfold, the Wildcats appear in the midst of a successful season with a bright future. Fruita has three seniors on the team.

“We’ve still made a big leap from where we started three years ago,” Van Hoose said.

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