RANGELY | This weekend the Panthers wrestled in the always tough Screaming Eagle tournament in Paonia.
“As a team, this is the best we have looked all year in my opinion,” said head coach JC Chumacero. “Friday night we wrestled Grand Valley where we didn’t seem to be ourselves and came up short of a single win. We talked to the young team and explained to them Saturday was the big day. We wanted them to get to their rooms, get a little food in their stomachs, and tell their girlfriends goodnight so we could get some good rest. They did just that and cleared their minds well as the team looked completely different Saturday.”
Freshman Sage Rhea (145) and Kasen LeBleu (152) came up short of wins this weekend. “The weight classes these two young men are in are two of the hardest weight classes in our region, in my opinion,” Chumacero said. Rhea fell to the number two seed and number three ranked wrestler in the state the first match. His second match he lost by points.
“This was one of the best matches I have seen Sage wrestle all year. He had zero quit in him and just kept coming after his opponent. LeBleu also had a tough first draw falling to the number five ranked kid in the state and also ended up being the tournament champion. He also lost his second match by points. Kasen just refused to give up. He has so much fight, and is starting to peak at the right time.”
Junior Anthony Garner (160) and older brother Del Garner (195) both picked up wins by points. “Winning by points is important because it shows that we are able to go a full distance and stay in control,” Chumacero said. Anthony Garner beat his John Mall opponent 7-3. Del Garner was able to secure a win against his Palisade opponent 7-1. Del’s win put him in the placing rounds where he walked away with a sixth-place finish.
Sophomore Brent Cantrell (170) and senior Dalton Dembowski both came out of the tournament with pins. Cantrell pinned his Mancos opponent in the third period and Dembowski pinned his Cedaredge opponent at the end of the third period.
Sophomore Byron Mackay (HWT) had an impressive 3-2 finish on the day. His first loss came from a 3A opponent. His next three wins all were by pin and against regional competitors from Meeker, Coal Ridge and West Grand. His final loss was a close one. “We lost in overtime to Ignacio,” Chumacero said, adding, “I hope we can meet up with him again next weekend.”
Sophomore Zane Varner came away with a third-place finish and dominating performances against regional opponents. He got a win by pin against a West Grand competitor and a 9-2 win against Nucla. He lost in the semi-finals against number one ranked wrestler Wesley VanMatre from John Mall, who is also a three-time state champion. Varner finished his day beating two more regional opponents including number three ranked JD Miller from Hotchkiss 7-1.
Senior Tytus Coombs (160) “looked scary” this weekend, according to his coach. Coombs got the fourth seed in the tournament on the same side of the bracket as the number two ranked wrestler in the state. Coombs rolled through his first two matches pinning both of his opponents with a combined time of 1:01 minutes. He met No. 2 ranked Grey Neil from Paonia in the semi-finals and won 6-3. He ended the day pinning another regional foe from Cedaredge to earn a first-place finish.
“We looked very good this weekend but we have to continue to keep our foot on the pedal. This helped us with regional seeding but we have to win these matches again in order to make it to state. I am confident in these young men. We will continue to work hard,” Chumacero said.
Special to the Herald Times