Conifer High School senior Matthew Creel was understandably disheartened to learn before the season started that he could no longer wrestle for his school. Apparently unable to obtain a coach for the 2019 season, CHS administrators regretfully informed Creel of the unexpected news.
“I was pretty disappointed, especially since it was my senior year,” Creel said. “But that was out of my control so I just sort of adjusted and moved on.”
Fortunately for Creel, according to the Colorado High School Activities Association, student athletes may compete with another high school in situations where his or her given institution is unable to – or chooses not to – offer a specific sport.
So, just like that, Creel went from donning Lobo green to Husky blue for his final year of wrestling. PCHS Blue apparently suited the senior just fine, as he reeled off 13 wins in 16 matches for the Huskies.
Platte Canyon head wrestling coach, Gary Rhoads, Sr., was pleased to add Creel to the roster.
“Matt is strong and agile, and he has no trouble making weight in the 152-pound class,” Rhoads said. “He has worked hard on technical parts of the sport, but he has also improved by staying relaxed and saving energy during matches. He has definitely been an asset for us.”
Creel, who was also a standout baseball player for Conifer prior to turning his attention exclusively to wrestling, had a stroke of bad luck early in the season when he suffered ligament damage in his shoulder.
Commitment and mental toughness served him well in undergoing a speedy recovery process and getting through what might have been a season-ending injury for other wrestlers.
In his first competition after returning from injury, Creel pinned three consecutive opponents to finish first at the Gilpin County Invitational meet.
Creel, who has a passion for working on cars and plans to enter trade school to become a diesel mechanic, says he feels fortunate to work with an experienced coach like Rhoads. Rhoads is currently nearing the completion of his 12th season at PCHS.
Rhoads will be taking a team of four to Regionals this season. One of those wrestlers, sophomore Noah Hartman, is also a CHS student who was forced to find another place to compete when the wrestling program at his school failed to materialize.
Hartman is a considerable talent in his own right, as he also took first place in his weight class with an impressive run of victories at the Gilpin County Invitational.
Hartman will compete in the 138-pound division, along with teammates Creel (152 pounds), David Johnson (160 pounds) and Jacob Ebbs (170 pounds).