In one of those times where a guy knows a guy who knows a guy, a Colorado wrestling connection found a way to bring college-level grappling to Mead High School.
Mavericks coach Ty Tatham confirmed that the top-ranked junior college program in the nation, Western Wyoming Community College, will face No. 24 Northwestern Kansas Tech in the school’s main gym at 7 p.m. on Monday.
Admission is free.
“It’s an opportunity for kids to see live what the next level looks like,” said Tatham, who first sent the details out via Twitter. “Obviously, the junior college level is something that is attractive for a lot of kids since there isn’t a lot of Division-I wrestling in the area.
“It’d be a good opportunity for (my team) to stick around and watch wrestling. And I’d love everyone from the area to come out, watch and support it.”
The idea of this high school throwback came to a head from talks between former Lyons state champion wrestler Leister Bowling, who now runs a youth wrestling program called Colorado Top Team out of Mead, and his old college teammate Art Castillo, the current coach of Western Wyoming CC.
In the early 2000s, the two were talented standouts on the mat at Dana College — a school which no longer exists out of Nebraska, where Bowling was a three-time NAIA All-American and Castillo was a two-time national qualifier. And both have continued to be ambassadors of the sport since.
“We always talked about ways to help build the sport of wrestling,” said Bowling, the 2000 Lyons graduate who was a three-time state champ before going on to become a coach in wrestling and mixed-martial arts. “And (this idea) kind of works out twofold to where we don’t get a whole lot of college duals other than UNC (the University of Northern Colorado), the School of Mines and Western State — UNC is the only one that’s close. And we were just talking about giving an opportunity for kids to see college wrestling in Colorado.”
What was left was to “find a team that would try to meet (Western Wyoming CC) in the middle and come have a match at a high school,” Bowling said. “I run a youth program out of (Mead), so it just made sense.”
Tatham embraced the idea and said it was approved by the St. Vrain Valley School District in October.
As far as the top-25 dual goes: Western Wyoming didn’t have any Colorado wrestlers on roster, per its official athletic page. But Northwestern Kansas Tech had six, including Cole Hoffman of Frederick.
The match is expected to feature 10 weight classes — four less than in high school competition in Colorado. The first of three periods will run 3 minutes, Tatham said, and the next two are the same as in high school at 2 minutes apiece.