Bears hungry on the mat

Dolores High wrestling team performing well under new head coach

The Bears have been a bit shorthanded, but the Dolores wrestling team appears to now be going at full steam.

After opening the season with a 33-30 dual win at Nucla, the Bears were a bit banged up with injuries and had some ineligible grapplers for last Saturday's Dove Creek Dawg Fight tournament.

Now, Dolores looks primed to fulfill its schedule with a full roster.

First-year coach Leo Garand even scheduled three home duals. Dolores will also host the 2013 San Juan Basin League championships on Feb. 7.

"We're having our first home dual match in five or six years against Ignacio coming up," said Garand, who was a junior college All-American wrestler in California. "I think it's huge (to host). That's one thing the guys were asking me, is, 'Are we going to get a chance to wrestle in front of our home crowd?' The first thing I did was schedule some home matches, so these boys can wrestle in front of their friends and family."

Only seven Bears were able to travel to Dove Creek last week, but they competed well.

Led by senior Wyatt Wade, the 145-pounder placed second in the tourney. He is a two-time state placer, having taken second in 2011 and fourth last February.

Ethan Upton, a junior, placed third in Dove Creek at 182 pounds. Guy Wallace posted a 2-1 mark at 138, while Luke Murefield went 2-2 at 126.

Senior leader Wyatt Mattausch has wrestled well at 132s. But the state returner fractured some ribs last Saturday and did not finish the tourney.

Levi Noyes, 113; Deano Valdez, 152; and, Kolton Shull, 160; all look to compete for state this season.

"We're looking very tough," Garand said. "If we can keep everybody healthy and eligible, I have six or seven guys that can make the state tournament."

Dolores will host Ignacio on Friday in a dual at 5:30 p.m. The Bears then travel to Farmington, N.M., next Saturday to compete in the Piedra Vista High School tourney at 9:30 a.m., before going on Christmas break. Piedra Vista is the two-time defending 4A New Mexico state champions.

Notes: Leo Garand has 33 years of coaching experience between six different sports at the high school and college levels. The California native was a three-time high school wrestling state finalist before competing at the junior college ranks. Garand replaces the retired Jim Everin as Dolores High School's physical education teacher.