After a shortened, and for some a disappointing, wrestling season last year during the beginning of the COVID pandemic, things seem to be mostly back to normal on the mat. Kyle Dinsmore, Norwood’s athletic director and head wrestling coach, told The Norwood Post on Monday he and the guys are ready to wrestle. 

Dinsmore has been hosting open gym weekly, since football season ended, so the kids could lift weights and feel ready. Practices officially begin Nov. 15, and the duals and tournaments quickly follow.

The first tournament is Dec. 3-4 in Moab, with a home dual on Dec. 8 against Monticello. Dinsmore is calling Nucla High School to see if they want to join that. 

Next up is a tournament in Salida on Dec. 11, followed by the Warrior Tournament in Grand Junction on Dec. 17. 

Last season, all tournaments were off the books, and coach said it’s a relief to have them back. 

He’s got high hopes for the senior wrestlers. Jarret Sinks is a two-time state qualifier who got hurt last year. He’s likely going to wrestle at 138 pounds this year, and after a shoulder surgery and rehabbing through a football season he couldn’t play, coach said Sinks should be ready to go. Sinks was supposed to get clearance from his physician on Monday to proceed; he has been lifting and strengthening throughout the fall season. 

Senior Gage Owen, recovering from a collarbone injury, qualified for state his freshmen year. He would have last year also, only the COVID restrictions minimized how many wrestlers could attend the state tournament, and CHSAA limited it to two, not four in each weight class. 

That rule has since been lifted, and Dinsmore said he’s ready to send five to six guys to the state tournament. He’d also like to see senior Brayden Magallon, also recovering from a thumb injury in football, advance this year — along with seniors Joshua Alexander and Cash Joseph. 

No freshmen are out this year for wrestling; there is only one male student, and he’s playing basketball instead. Sophomore Colton Bray, who suffered an ankle injury last year, is supposed to wrestle, along with juniors Aiden Walton and exchange student Francesco DUrso, who has competed in rodeo and boxing. 

Dinsmore said in a high school with not even 40 kids, he’s pleased with the turnout. He said the rising middle school class does have quite a few wrestlers, which will sustain the program. 

Females are welcome to join the sport and have in the past, though none have expressed interest this year. 

Assisting again are Justin Franklin and Randy Harris, both seasoned coaches. 

Dinsmore agreed the parents, especially of the senior wrestlers, are just as excited to see some action on the mat. For years, the families have participated in fundraising, and offering their support in various ways. 

“They’re a great group,” coach said. “They’re at every meet, a six-hour drive to Vernal — They stay for the whole thing, for everybody. It’s a great group of parents. Can’t ask for any more …  I hope it’s a great year for everybody.”

There are minimal restrictions now for COVID. Masks are required in the Norwood gym, but there is no spectator limit. 

This year, there’s also a home tournament Jan. 15, with the San Juan Basin League duals being held in Norwood this year on Feb. 3. 

“I’m excited for us to get back to normal here and wrestle some tournaments,” he said.