Ready or not, Wolverines hit the mats

Bayfield High School to begin wrestling season at home with its Classic

Under the watchful eye of head coach Herb Stinson, in the background at left, the Bayfield Wolverines work through conditioning drills Wednesday in preparation for the annual Wolverine Classic on Saturday at Bayfield High School. Bayfield will host five teams, including Ignacio, in Saturday’s season-opening tournament. Enlarge photo

LINDSAY EPPICH/Herald

Under the watchful eye of head coach Herb Stinson, in the background at left, the Bayfield Wolverines work through conditioning drills Wednesday in preparation for the annual Wolverine Classic on Saturday at Bayfield High School. Bayfield will host five teams, including Ignacio, in Saturday’s season-opening tournament.

Bayfield High School wrestling coach Herb Stinson is coping with a condensed preseason schedule this year.

His Wolverines will hit the mats for their first competition Saturday – ready or not.

“We’ll put a team together,” Stinson said as Bayfield prepares to host the annual Wolverine Classic team tournament all day Saturday at BHS.

“We finally got the football players in (this week),” said Stinson, who added he made the BHS football/wrestlers stay out of the wrestling room and rest up for a week after the football playoffs.

“I kept them out last week,” Stinson said.

The footballers were hustling to make up time this week, the coach said.

“We’re not in great shape yet,” Stinson said.

Plus, several wrestlers were battling to make weight classifications this week.

When they do hit the mats for their first bouts, the Wolverines will take on the likes of Ignacio, Pagosa Springs, Dove Creek, Montezuma-Cortez and Piedra Vista of Farmington.

The team duals will start at 9:30 a.m. Another set of duals will follow an hour and 15 minutes later. Duals will follow throughout the day.

There will be a lunch break from noon to 12:30 p.m. The Wolverine Classic will wrap by 5 p.m.

“The team to beat is Piedra Vista,” Stinson said. “They return almost their entire team.

“Dove Creek will be extremely tough. They were very young last year,” said Stinson, in his 11th year as the Bayfield head coach.

“Pagosa is always tough, you know that. And Ignacio will have their tough kids,” Stinson said. “Cortez will be relatively young this year. But they’ll have some good wrestlers here.”

Stinson said all of the teams are eager to get their wrestlers out on the mats and into competitive matches.

“Everybody will get their feet wet. This will let us know what we have to do,” the BHS head coach said.

Stinson’s lineup this season will feature a mix of returning veterans and up and coming younger wrestlers.

Aaron Velasquez, a junior who was fourth at state last year (152 pounds), will return to lead the Wolverines this season.

Velasquez likely will wrestle at 152, although this weekend he might wrestle up at 160.

The all-conference running back from the Wolverines’ playoff football team was 30-6 last year in spite of nagging injuries.

“He had a great summer,” Stinson said.

Velasquez won 41 matches this summer at camps and tournaments.

Senior Tanner McGhehey, another all-conference football selection, also will wrestle 152/160.

State qualifier Joe Zink will return as a sophomore at 135 pounds. State qualifier Sonny Salazar (112) also is back. He’s a junior this year.

Junior Austin Shupe is ticketed for duty at 119 pounds.

BHS freshman Clay Crawford is the Wolverines’ 103-pounder.

Drake Rhodes, a sophomore who wrestled varsity as a freshman, will work at 125 this year.

Ian Sandrey, a sophomore who was out with a knee injury last year, is back this season at 130.

Brendan Ruybal, a junior, also is back from a knee injury this season. He’ll compete in the lower-middle weight classes.

Cameron Shablo, a junior, is a likely 145-pounder for the Wolverines, Stinson said.

Michael Dupree and Josh McKnight, a pair of juniors, wrestle around 140 pounds.

Stinson said the BHS spot at 171 is open right now.

Sophomore John Roberts, a tackle on the football team, will draw the assignment at 189 pounds.

The 215-pound bracket remains open for BHS.

Sophomore Matt Eckstein is the likely starter at heavyweight.

After hosting the multi-team Wolverine Classic on Saturday, the Bayfield wrestling team will compete in the annual Bloomfield Tournament on Dec. 10-11.

BHS also will wrestle at home in Intermountain League duals against Centauri on Jan. 6 and Alamosa on Jan. 27, its Parents Appreciation Night.

The Class 3A Regionals for BHS this year will be at Pagosa Springs on Feb. 11-12.

dstrode@durangoherald.com

Bayfield junior Aaron Velasquez, who was fourth at state last year, limbers up for a Wolverine workout this week. Enlarge photo

LINDSAY EPPICH/Herald

Bayfield junior Aaron Velasquez, who was fourth at state last year, limbers up for a Wolverine workout this week.