FARMINGTON — The Shiprock wrestling team is poised for a District 1-A/4A title this season.
The Chieftains return a corps of wrestlers with varsity and state tournament experience, and bring in a number of newcomers who will vie for spots on the varsity roster.
“I think we’ll be OK once we get our weight settled in and have everyone at the weight they want to wrestle at,” Shiprock coach Ben Fazier said. “Once we get that set, I think we’ll have a solid team for our district.”
Shiprock is joined in District 1-A/4A by Foothill, Newcomb, Pecos, Tierra Encantada and Wingate.
Of the six programs in the district, Shiprock placed highest at state last season, finishing eighth with 51 points.
Frazier said the Chieftains competed in a few tournaments over the summer, and they got a chance to see Wingate and Newcomb a couple of times, and the two programs could make a push for the district title.
“Newcomb has some kids coming along, and they’re probably going to make some noise, too,” Frazier said. “It’s going to be kind of tough at certain weights, but we should look pretty good by the time district comes along, if we can stay healthy.”
While Shiprock returns seven wrestlers who qualified for state last season, the team wasn’t immune to graduation and lost 22 of the 51 points it scored at the state tournament in February.
Back to lead the Chieftains this season will be senior Logan Charley, who was Shiprock’s top finisher at state, placing second at 195 pounds.
Along with Charley, Frazier said he expects fellow senior Zephaniah Hadley, and juniors Zelldan Clark and Cauy Ute to be regular point producers for Shiprock.
The remaining spots on the varsity roster are up for grabs at this point in the season. Frazier said there are currently a number of wrestlers challenging for a varsity position, which will fuel the Chieftains to work harder in practice to crack varsity or hold on to their spot.
Frazier said he expects the battle for varsity slots to remain at full tilt until mid-January, when he hopes the roster will solidify.
"We haven’t settled in on weights, so several guys will be battling for positions to make varsity," Frazier said. "Guys are really pushing each other, and they're already looking forward to wrestle offs."
Last year’s 51 points at state was the program’s best finish since the 2012 season, when the Chieftains placed fifth with 76 points. With the program on the rise, Shiprock had a wave of first-time wrestlers join the team this year, including an influx of female wrestlers.
“We have more girls this year than we’ve ever had before. That’s different for us. I think we have 10 girls on our roster right now. That’s a big change from all the other years we’ve had girls. We’re working with them, and they’re coming along pretty well, so far.”
Shiprock will have a couple of more weeks to get ready for its first action when the Chieftains head to Fort Wingate for the Shush Duals on Dec. 14.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.