Garrett Beebe and Jake Sandrey both know what it is like to wrestle under the bright lights at the Pepsi Center in Denver during the state wrestling tournament. Neither know what it is like to stand on the podium at the Pepsi Center, but they aim to change that in their final season at Bayfield High School.
Beebe and Sandrey are both seniors on the BHS wrestling team. As juniors a year ago, both boys lost in the first round of the state tournament, won a consolation match and then saw their season come to an end in the second round of the consolation bracket.
"They both know who they've got in the state right now and who is ranked in the top," BHS head coach Roy Westbrook said. "None of them are really running from it. Some kids see how tough their weight class is and try to jump around to a different class. Garrett and Jake see that and both of them know they've got tough kids, and they've both already seen some of the toughest kids and lost. But they aren't veering from it. Both of them, having never placed at state, they're determined to place. They're gonna make a push at that top podium spot."
Both boys have amassed 21 wins this season. Beebe has only five losses, and Sandrey has six. Both placed second last week at the Pueblo Centennial tournament.
Now, the league dual-meet schedule is set to pick up for the Wolverines when they host Monte Vista at 5 p.m. Thursday. The theme Thursday is "Patriotic Night," and the team will wear special singlets, and all veterans will receive free admission. Westbrook hopes to see the gym packed for wrestling for the first time in years as the Wolverines go for a strong start to the league duals. Fans are asked to wear red, white and blue for the event.
Bayfield is in one of the toughest wrestling leagues this year, as the Intermountain League boasts top-ranked Alamosa, No. 4 Pagosa Springs and a Centauri squad that has spent most of the season in the top 10.
"Honestly, we just take it one match at a time," Sandrey said of facing the tough league opponents. "We're definitely a young team with only five upperclassmen, so it's kind of different for us this year."
Beebe and Sandrey have the experience and results to be leaders of the mat room at BHS. Westbrook said the two seniors lead based on their performances on the mat more than with their voices during practice.
"Both of them have great leadership skills, and it shows on the mat," Westbrook said. "They throw everything out there and leave it all on the mat and try to get the job done. They never quit in the middle of a match. The kids see how hard they fight to try to pull a match out. Sometimes it's in the last second, sometimes they dominate, but when they're on the mat, it shows the guys how hard they're pushing and doing everything they can to get a win."
Though they are close in weight, with Beebe wrestling at 138 pounds and Sandrey at 145, the two don't drill together much in practice. They work with the rest of the BHS grapplers as they try to help the team get better.
Beebe and Sandrey both come from wrestling families, as Sandrey's older brothers, Drake and Ian, wrestled at BHS until they graduated in 2013, and Beebe's older brother, Tyler, wrestled at Ignacio and placed fifth in the state at 132 pounds as a senior in 2016.
"My family is expecting me to do good, especially my brother," Beebe said. "He just wants me to do better than him. He never got pinned his senior year. He has taught me to just fight no matter what."
Beebe and Sandrey both played on the BHS football team that claimed the state championship in 2017. Being part of a state championship squad helped them roll into wrestling season with the right frame of mind.
"We know that feeling," Sandrey said. "We know what the mind-set is when you want to win and that feeling of winning."
It's a feeling the two will experience plenty more times in the month-long leadup to this year's state wrestling tournament.