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Wrestling: Liberty routs Rampart

By: Justin Shaw preps@gazette.com
January 22, 2014 Updated: January 22, 2014 at 11:22 pm
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Liberty's Nick Oskvarek tosses Rampart's Nicholas McNerney during the last remaining seconds of the second period of the 182-pound weight class Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at Liberty High School. Nick pinned Nicholas during the closing seconds of the second round. Liberty defeated Rampart in the meet, 69-9. Mason Trinca, The Gazette

A few years ago, it wouldn't have been uncommon for the Liberty wrestling team to be on the wrong side of a blowout.

Times, however, have changed.

The Lancers won six of 14 matches by pin in their home gym Wednesday to cruise by District 20 rival Rampart 69-9.

"It's been a process, and I understand where Rampart is right now because that's where we were two years ago," Liberty coach Shawn Springsteen said of building his program. "A few years ago we were heavy with underclassmen, and it's nice to see those guys stick with our program and now see the fruits of their labor."

Liberty endured the growing pains that came with being a young squad two years ago, and the result is a roster with 10 upperclassmen on the 14-man roster.

The Lancers will carry their momentum into the Colorado Springs Metro Tournament this weekend, and then to regionals.

The goal is to qualify multiple wrestlers for the state tournament.

"Since a lot of our team is seniors, we've been focusing mostly on keeping our conditioning up since there really isn't much left to learn as our last season winds down," said 195-pounder Kaid Beziou, who scored a first-period pin.

"When I started as a freshman, we had two seniors on the team and hadn't won a dual meet in four or five years. Now, our goal is to have up to five state qualifiers."

The mindset at Liberty has gone from frustration to fun and the wins have followed, led by the upperclassmen who took their lumps two years ago.

Jonathon Sigley, the Lancers' 152-pounder, says the mood is more enjoyable, and the team is building confidence heading into the stretch run.

"We came into tonight knowing we have a solid team, so we wanted to go out and have some fun and do whatever we needed to do to win," said Sigley, who won by pin in the first period. "I believe this will give us confidence, and it also helps the younger guys on our team who will be stepping up next year some experience."

The Lancers also got wins via pin from Alec Dowell (120), Adam Beziou (160), Josh Burns (170) and Nick Oskvarek (182).

Overall, Liberty was dominant in the matches.

However, 30 of the Lancers' points came via forfeit, as Rampart struggled to find enough bodies to fill roster positions.

Second-year Rams coach Johnny Grimaldo has faced a large amount of injuries on this season's team, which has cut his roster from 35 to 22. Instead of putting unseasoned wrestlers in against varsity veterans, he's decided to protect his young guys.

"I made the mistake of putting young guys who weren't ready in there last year and it discouraged a lot of them, so this year I'm trying to avoid that mistake," Grimaldo said.

"A lot of our kids haven't had a lot of mat time and experience, and it shows, but we are improving and are better than we were last year."

Rampart's bright spots came from 220-pounder Jose Toledo, who scored a pin, and 106-pounder Cody Roth, who won a 3-1 decision.

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