Pirate focuses on state goal

Posted 2/1/10

The Feb. 12-13 regionals mark the second most important date on the prep wrestling schedule. Regionals are the competition determining which …

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Pirate focuses on state goal


The Feb. 12-13 regionals mark the second most important date on the prep wrestling schedule.

Regionals are the competition determining which wrestlers advance to state and, this year, Englewood is hosting one of the 4A regional tournaments.

Eighteen teams make up the field for the tournament action that begins at 4 p.m. Feb. 12 with preliminary round competition. Mat action resumes at 9 a.m. Feb. 13 with the top four finishers in each weight division advancing to the state tournament.

The Pirates have a small roster with no entries in several weight divisions plus they have young wrestlers at several other spots. But Pirate coach Jim Potter said he has at least four wrestlers — Chris Montoya at 103, Aaron Embertson at 160, Nick Shepard at 171 and Mike Tolle at 189 — who are contenders for spots at state. Shepard is probably the leading contender as he currently has a 22-1 record.

Shepard will tell you wrestling is his sport, but it hasn’t always been that way.

The Pirate senior was a multi-sport athlete until last fall when he made the difficult decision to give up football in order to focus all his time and energy on wrestling.

“Giving up football was very hard because I love the sport,” he said. “But I evaluated everything and I just felt I had chance to land a college scholarship in wrestling so I put all my time and energy into becoming a better wrestler.”

Shepard said he feels he is about ready physically to go to regionals and to state.

“I feel my stamina and strength are where the need to be and I will continue to work to improve my techniques,” he said. “However, the biggest challenge for me is mental. I know I’ll see some of the state’s best wrestlers at regional and at state. I need to prepare myself mentally so I go into every match with the confidence that I deserve to be one of those names at the top of the list of the best 171-pound wrestlers in the state.”

He said he has already had preliminary discussions with a couple colleges and that number could increase if he achieves his goal of winning a state title.

The Pirate senior began focusing on wrestling last season and had a pretty good year that included a trip to state.

“Going to state was an amazing experience. It was really something to go out there on the mat and wrestle in front of all those people. That was really something,” he said.

“I also had a tough draw in the first round when I went up against a two-time state champion. I lost the match and I also lost my focus because I did OK early in the next round but my concentration wasn’t really there and I lost that match too and was out of the tournament.”

However, he said the experience was good because he watched the wrestlers and saw what level he would have to attain if he wanted to make it to the championship finals.

Shepard said that helped motivate him to spend the summer wrestling. He attended a number of camps and, when not at camp, he was at the open practice sessions at Englewood High School.

Toward the end of the summer, the 171-pounder competed in the Monster Nationals, a tournament that draws elite wrestlers from Colorado and a number of other states.

He battled to a sixth-place finish and while that was a good accomplishment, he said it was probably more important that he observed and went up against wrestlers from other states.

“Every match, whether I was wrestling or watching, was a learning experience,” he said. “Many of the wrestlers had different styles and techniques I hadn’t seen before. I feel I picked a number of techniques that I feel will help me as I focus on these last few weeks and the goal of getting to state and winning my weight division championship. It is a tough challenge but I feel I am up to it.”


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