Building a high school wrestling program is no easy task, but it has been happening at Conifer High School for the last two years.
Nick Adamson of Bailey, who wrestled from the time he was a young child through college, took on the challenge of starting the team from scratch. A couple of years before that, he became involved with Mountain Grapplers, a local club team for children in kindergarten through eighth grade.
With a feeder program in place, Adamson was ready — with a little coaxing from Conifer Athletic Director Eric Kragel — to tackle building a team.
“As time went on, it became more and more obvious the longer (the Conifer team) laid dormant, the harder it would be to come back,” Adamson said.
With a six-member team last and a 14-member team this year, Conifer wrestling is gaining momentum.
“We are still very much in a rebuilding process,” he explained. “The high school has made huge strides, and hopefully kids from (Mountain Grapplers) will filter up to the high school team.”
The team has won about half of its meets this year, which is a good sign, especially considering the team doesn’t have grapplers wrestling at all 14 weight classes. The team took several wrestlers to regionals Feb. 10-11 in Eaton, Colorado, and Adamson hopes some grapplers will qualify for state.
“In a couple years, I think everything will have a whole varsity team and JV as well,” he said, noting that anyone, boys and girls, can participate in wrestling.
King of the Mountain meet
At Conifer’s dual meet against Evergreen on Feb. 2, Evergreen won what is called the King of the Mountain meet 45-36.
“We were kind of playing the underdog (with a) forfeit in five weights, so it was going to be a tough path for us anyway,” Adamson said.
The match was the last one of the season at home for the Lobos, as well as senior night.
Senior Jacob Reynolds, who spent two years with the program, admitted he felt the pressure of the night, and he won his match.
“No matter what, I didn’t care if I broke an arm, or if I bled or sweat, I was going to win this match no matter what,” Reynolds said.
Senior Jack Fetzer, who is ranked seventh in 3A in the 144-pound weight class, will be making a run for the podium at state this year. He won his match in 60 seconds.
“It felt awesome,” Fetzer said. “There’s no other feeling.”
An individual sport
Adamson said wrestling was a unique sport because of the mental and physical challenges, calling it the purest individual sport.
“There is no equipment, no balls, no bats, no rims,” he explained. “You don’t have coaches calling plays. That strips the sport down to its barest form, so it’s all about individual responsibility. In a lot of other sports, you can hide behind your teammates or blame the coach for a bad call or game. In this sport, you own the whole thing.”
Patrick Doty from Conifer High School contributed to this story.