Bears wrestling looking to freshmen to lead team

Richard Martinez and Dallas Neely run through a warmup drill at the Dolores wrestling practice.

According to Dolores High School wrestling coach Leo Garand, this season will be a rebuilding one for the Bears.

With plenty of talent on the team's 12-man roster however, this year's team should have no trouble remaining competitive.

Leading the way for the Bears will be senior Ethen Upton, who, fresh off a successful football season, plans to wrestle in the 170-pound division.

An extremely strong and athletic individual, Upton earned a trip to the state tournament last season and plans to return as a senior.

"I want our whole team to be a state championship team, but we only have twelve people coming out this year, so it's going to be hard to do that," said Upton. "I want to go to state again and hopefully place pretty high in state."

Also figuring to punch a ticket to the state tournament is Bears' 145-pound senior Deano Valdez, who, after just missing out at a trip to state last season, worked hard to improve during the offseason.

"I'm hoping to go undefeated all the way through state, and I'm hoping to take state," said Valdez. "I went to a three-week training camp this summer, and I think that it definitely improved a lot of my moves and my technique."

Looking to compliment the Bears' standout seniors, junior Guy Wallace, a 138-pound wrestler, will attempt to qualify for the state tournament.

"I think (Wallace) will be a state qualifier this year," said Garand. "He was wrestling real tough last year."

Aside from Upton, Valdez and Wallace, the Bears roster is relatively unproven, yet talent is by no means lacking within the young group.

Of the seven freshman on this year's roster, freshmen Richard Martinez (120 pounds) and Tristan Medina (106) figure to lead the way, while several other freshmen could step up and contribute.

"I think (Martinez) stands a chance of making state and possibly placing," said Garand.

As with any young team however, the Bears figure to experience growing pains, yet such pains figure to be eased by the Bears' senior leaders.

"I try to show the (younger guys) the basics," said Upton. "You've got to get the fundamentals down. (Valdez) and I try to help them a lot with that."

Clearly a young team, but by no means a group in over their heads, the Bears appear to have the personnel necessary to make the 2013-14 season a successful one.

"Our league will be tough as always," said Garand. "Dove Creek is in a rebuilding year, but they are always good. Ignacio is going to be tough. They did a good job of recruiting in the offseason."

Those interested in catching the Bears in action are encouraged to attend the team's opening season tournament in Flagstaff on Dec. 6-7 or the team's second tournament of the year in Dove Creek on Dec. 14.

Trevor Robinson flips over while working with the rest of the Dolores wrestling squad on neck strength. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Trevor Robinson flips over while working with the rest of the Dolores wrestling squad on neck strength.