Heading into regionals, the District 51 girls wrestling team is finding its footing at the right time.
District 51 hosted a quadrangular at Grand Junction High School on Saturday, sweeping its matches with Durango (36-11), Olathe (36-24) and Soroco (24-21).
“We’re wrestling well,” coach Chad Dare said. “We’ve got some things to work on. This was a good weekend for us because we started with Durango and Olathe and that’s kind of a good measuring stick for us. Overall, we’re wrestling well and we’re doing some good things. We’re still a young team and we’re making some mistakes, but our girls are wrestling hard. They’re giving a full effort and that’s all we can ask from them.”
Laurel Hughes, ranked 11th at 136 pounds, wasted little time in her matches, pinning Durango’s Aubrey Muk and Olathe’s Grace Davis in a combined 2 minutes, 58 seconds.
“This season’s been really, really, really short,” Hughes said. “I feel good. I wish I could have wrestled more. I wish that the season was longer. But I feel really good. It’s nice to get to wrestle at all, I guess.”
Hughes, a student at Central, spent last season with the Warriors’ junior varsity team, finding girls to wrestle at various tournaments. At regionals, Hughes came up just short of a trip to Denver for the state tournament.
That experience has stayed with her as she’s adjusted to wrestling in a CHSAA-sponsored varsity sport.
“Honestly, I just want to go to state,” Hughes said. “Last year, I placed sixth at regionals and they were taking everything up to fifth to state. I just missed it and it was really sad. I just want to go to state this year. If I could place, that would be great, but I just want to go wrestle the best girls in the state.”
Hughes is one of five ranked wrestlers for District 51.
Mollie Dare, No. 11 at 118, pinned Brook Ste in the Durango dual but was pinned by Olathe’s top-ranked Nichole Koch, a Delta junior who won state titles as a freshman and sophomore.
Some of District 51’s top contenders to make it to state — Bailey Hoyt, No. 6 at 127; Kenya Contreras, No. 7 at 147; and Sasha Guerra, No. 5 at 215 — didn’t see much action on the day.
However, all three feel confident that they can compete at regionals for one of the four exclusive state tournament spots.
“My coaches are pushing me hard,” Guerra, a Palisade sophomore, said. “With that, it’s giving me more motivation to do better. ... (Making it to state) would prove to my other coaches that, if they had pushed me harder, I could have done better.”
District 51’s ranked wrestlers are not their only successful ones. For instance, Kate Ramthum needed one minute to pin Olathe’s Aby England, 12th in the state at 185.
Whether District 51 sends any of its wrestlers to the girls state tournament, Chad Dare is proud of his young squad’s progress amid the turmoil of sports in the coronavirus world.
“We’ve had some girls have to sit out for COVID; our whole last weekend was cancelled,” Dare said. “We haven’t been able to wrestle very many matches. I think all of my girls are wrestling well and all of them are showing well at times. They’re all exceeding expectations at this point in the season.”