The winter is here and so are the grapplers for Chaffee County as Salida and Buena Vista get ready for seasons at the 3A and 2A levels respectively.
The two teams are heading in opposite directions, but first lets look at how last year rounded out.
The Salida Spartans and Buena Vista Demons both brought home state champions and great performances from the state meet last year.
For Salida, Eli Smith capped off his career with a state title at 220, Holt Brashears finished 2nd at 195 and Juan Doyle podiumed by taking 5th for the Spartans, who as a team finished 6th with only three wrestlers at the meet.
The Demons also saw plenty of kids make it to the podium last season, with Micah Hertrich leading the way with a state title at 160. Carlos Hutchings placed 4th as a junior as well, and all five state qualifiers from last years BV team are returning for this season.
The Buena Vista Demons are entering the season and they are no longer going to be the surprise at the state tournament. According to On The Mat, the Demons enter the season ranked 3rd as a team, with only state powerhouse programs Wray and Rocky Ford coming in ahead of them in the rankings.
10 athletes are ranked to start the season for the Demons as well, with only half of those constituting juniors and seniors. Four of those wrestlers are expected to make the podium come February, with one expected to just miss going into the year.
The other good news for the Demons, is they are heading to a different region as well, going South to wrestle in Sierra Grande this year, which will give them some new faces and some different competition going into the state tournament, and maybe a few more openings.
For Salida, it comes down to how much progress can they make in three short months. A new coach is in the room for the Spartans, with Steve Meyers returning to take over the program. There won’t be a lot of veterans in the room, but they will have a senior, with Jesse Camp returning to the room after sitting out his junior year. There will be youth coming up from the middle school program, and there is one freshman for the Spartans who is getting attention, but questions surround the Spartans heading into the year.