Friendly foes

Slope squads, German club square off in exhibition wrestling dualWrestling

Paonia’s Bo Pipher, left, and Andrej Kurockin of Germany square off during the USA vs. Germany dual wrestling meet at Central High School on Saturday. Pipher was a second-place finisher at the Colorado high school state tournament. Kurockin, a German champion, Serbian champion and state champion, won the match 2-0.


The future of wrestling was at the heart of Saturday’s friendly exhibition between a pair of Western Slope teams and a club team from Germany.

With the International Olympic Committee’s decision to possibly drop wrestling from the Olympics recently, it was a big topic of discussion.

Fruita Monument wrestler Jacob Seely’s family hosted one of the German wrestlers, Peter Shutz, overnight, and the Olympics immediately became a conversation piece.

“It’s a big thing in Germany, too,” Seely said. “It shows we can’t just utilize the country to save Olympic wrestling, we have to utilize the world to save Olympic wrestling.”

The international competition, such as the Olympics provide, was a main reason Seely participated Saturday.

“It’s awesome to get new competition, especially overseas competition, especially with the International Olympic Committee canceling wrestling and taking it out of the Olympics,” he said. “I feel like things like this help the sport of wrestling and hopefully help get wrestling back in the Olympics.”

The German wrestlers felt the same way.

“It’s sad in 2020 wrestling won’t be in the Olympics,” Nikita Baulin said. “I hope we can change that. I think it’s a dream of every wrestler to go to the Olympics.”

“It’s pretty sad that they want to drop wrestling as an Olympic sport,” German wrestler Sven Simon said. “People in Germany want to protest against that.”

A petition to support keeping wrestling in the Olympics was available for wrestlers, their families and fans to sign Saturday at Central High School. Central wrestling coach Laurence Gurule said he made copies of the petition afterward and will send one to the IOC and one to President Obama.

— Allen Gemaehlich

Several Western Slope wrestlers took advantage of a rare opportunity Saturday afternoon.

They exchanged gifts and wrestled a club team from Germany in an exhibition dual at Central High School.

“I was pumped,” said Jesse Reed, a two-time state champion from Paonia. “I was pretty excited to be asked. You don’t get these opportunities very often. It was a great experience.”

Reed, who gave his opponent a Paonia wrestling T-shirt, won both periods of his freestyle bout against German national champion Max Stadtmueller, 2-0. Reed received a German T-shirt in exchange, along with some German candy.

Reed had one of six wins in the first dual for the Western Slope.

Germany won the other seven matches for a 27-23 victory. The Germans won the final match of the second dual for a 32-27 victory. They wrestled two duals earlier this week on the Front Range and have one more Tuesday night before returning home.

The trip was arranged by the German team’s sponsors, Simon and Anja Korner, and a handful of Colorado high school coaches, including Central’s Laurence Gurule.

The German teenage wrestlers had to come up with money for their flights to Colorado, but they stayed with families of the Colorado wrestlers and were transported across the Rocky Mountains by the coaches of the Colorado teams.

“This is something the boys will never forget,” Anja Korner said. “Until now, they have nothing but good memories.”

Meeker freshman T.J. Shelton wrestled Korner’s son, Jonas, who weighed about 25 pounds more than Shelton and won the match.

There wasn’t an official weigh-in. Wrestlers were matched up by whom they were closest to in weight.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Shelton said. “I knew he was a little bigger than me, but I thought I’d go out there and have fun.”

Gurule wanted to bring the German team to the Western Slope after he took his team to Germany in 2008.

“Sure, it’s about the wrestling, but it’s also about the friendships they make,” Gurule said. “The last time we went to Germany, my nephew Jacob (Gurule) made friends with people. The coach, Kukas Fecher, told me (he’s) still in contact with Sean White, who used to wrestle here (at Central).”

Gurule invited the German team and organized the event as a fundraiser for Central’s program. He gave the wrestlers the option of what style of wrestling they wanted to do. Most of them chose freestyle instead of Greco-Roman, which is the most common type in Germany.

In freestyle wrestling, wrestlers get one point for a takedown and must turn their opponent. If they can’t, they start back on their feet. Wrestlers can’t use their legs in Greco-Roman.

“In freestyle and Greco, when you’re on top, you can lock your hands,” Gurule said.

Fruita Monument sophomore Jacob Seely has wrestled in a couple of freestyle tournaments in recent years, but he said it still is new to him.

“It’s way different for me,” Seely said. “On most kids, I’d be way more aggressive, but I know if I shoot in and don’t finish quickly, I’d get turned over and the period could be over like that. You have to be a lot smarter in freestyle.”

The German team, all teenagers, wasn’t real familiar with freestyle wrestling either.

“It’s a little bit different because we have other rules,” said Nikita Baulin, one of the German wrestlers. “We only have Greco, but (freestyle) was good. I like it.”

“It’s hard for me to wrestle freestyle,” Korner said. “When someone jumps on my leg I give up the point because I don’t know how (to respond).”

Sven Simon, 16, wouldn’t pass up on the opportunity to wrestle in America even though he was advised to stay home with an injured back.

“I wanted to come here so much,” Simon said. “America is great. I really like it.”

Years from now, two teams of Western Slope high school wrestlers will likely forget their score but remember the experience.

“After talking with the kids, they loved it,” Gurule said. “One boy was skeptical about it, but afterwards thought it was cool.”


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