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Boulder wrestlers Martin Selby (left) and Morgan Reynolds are eager to learn under new coach Gil Espinoza, a former state champ for the Panthers.
David R. Jennings / Daily Camera
Boulder wrestlers Martin Selby (left) and Morgan Reynolds are eager to learn under new coach Gil Espinoza, a former state champ for the Panthers.

BOULDER — With four college-level classes, ceramic and culinary arts hobbies, playing music and wrestling, Martin Selby is a bit of a Renaissance man at Boulder High School. He prioritizes learning above all else.

There doesn’t appear to be much of anything Selby can’t learn. But Selby’s methodical, cerebral approach to everything might be exactly the thing that stands between him and achieving a higher level of wrestling. Deviating from the modus operandi that has brought him success in his many endeavors might prove to be the toughest thing for Selby to master.

In his senior season, Selby is learning to let go.

“I tend to try to be efficient and attentive in whatever I’m doing,” Selby said. “I tend to be a pretty methodical wrestler. I’m not as explosive as some guys and I don’t generally get as aggressive or as emotionally involved as a lot of guys during a match. I plan to work on getting more into my matches and allowing myself to have a little more fun with it and not just get stuck in being cerebral in my matches.”

Of course, Selby’s cerebral approach to wrestling has its advantages and he does not intend to go from Einstein to Frankenstein in one season. He’s simply working on the perfect combination of intelligence and intensity that will allow him to wrestle strategically and “get after it” when the other wrestler gives him an opening.

Selby hopes his new approach will help him to beat some of the opponents who defeated him last season, particularly Front Range League rival Roman Ortiz from Rocky Mountain, who defeated Selby twice and ended up taking third at state last year.

The Panthers’ lone state qualifier a year ago, Selby reached the 152-pound 5A state quarterfinals despite battling a respiratory infection and kidney stones before the Front Range League and regional tournaments.

“That was not an ideal situation,” Selby joked.

Along with the rest of the Panthers, Selby is also learning to work with his third different coach in as many seasons. The Panthers’ frequent turnover at the head coaching position hasn’t been an ideal situation either. But Selby’s fellow senior captain Morgan Reynolds hopes the program can regain some stability with newcomer Gilbert Espinoza and the leadership of five seniors.

“Our coaching situation has made it hard for us to build our team,” Reynolds said. “But we have a good group of seniors that really know the program and a bunch of young guys who have a lot of talent and could really be molded to shape our program. We want to have fun and succeed. Us seniors have to balance our time between working on our own technique and helping the other guys.”

Espinoza was a two-time state champion at Boulder High School and wrestled at the University of Colorado after his time as a Navy Seal in the Vietnam War. He also coached at Centaurus High School from 1997-2000, including a 5A team title in 1999.

Now retired after 37 years with the Boulder Fire Department, Espinoza returns to his former high school to try to right the ship.

“I have a group of five seniors that I’m really impressed with and the heart on this team is great,” Espinoza said. “One of the first things we did was have a special training when it was 27 degrees and snowing out, and out of 22 kids, 18 of them were there. We only had one kid qualify for state last year so I think there’s some expectation that we’re not going to do well but I think we have a hard-working group of kids and we’ll be fine.”

Follow Brad on Twitter: twitter.com/BradCochi

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