RANGELY | The Panther wrestling team traveled to Kremmling this last weekend to compete in duals Friday and a tournament Saturday.
Friday against West Grand and Basalt, sophomore Zane Varner (145) seemed to be on a mission, pinning both of his opponents by pin. Teammates Brent Cantrell and Dalton Dembowski joined Varner, coming away with wins by pin. “We looked pretty good Friday night, we didn’t match up perfect with either teams so unfortunately not everyone was able to get a match,” said head coach JC Chumacero.
Saturday was the West Grand Invitational where 13 teams competed. Sophomore Braxton Moore (126) started his day off strong by winning his first match by pin. After that the Panthers lost two matches and came up short of a medal.
“Braxton isn’t showing us his full potential in my opinion,” Chumacero said. “He is a way better wrestler than he is giving himself credit for. As coaches, our goal is to get him to see his full potential.”
Sophomore Alex Black came up short of a win this weekend.
“This is Alex’s first year of wrestling and is continuing to grow week to week. He had some tough kids this weekend that just have years of experience over him,” Chumacero said.
Varner carried his dominance from Friday rolling through his weight bracket and pinning his three opponents to earn his second high school gold medal.
“I was very proud of Varner this weekend as he wrestled very smart and was able to control his opponents. He went 5-0 on the weekend and was also named the ‘outstanding wrestler’ of the whole tournament,” Chumacero said. Varner heads into the break with a 16-1 record.
Freshman Kasen LeBleu (152) won his first match of the day with a win by pin in a very fast match. This put LeBleu in the semifinals which automatically put the Panthers in the placing rounds. LeBleu wrestled tough but came up short and ended the day with a sixth place finish.
“152 pounds is not an easy weight class to come into as a freshman, but this young man is handling himself well and is continuing to grow,” Chumacero said.
Sophomore Brent Cantrell also started his day out strong with another win by pin. “He came up short of a medal but his improvement from last year is huge.”
Senior Del Garner was in a round robin bracket at 195, “where we lost some matches we know we could have won” according to Chumacero. “That’s how we learn, Garner is so hungry to win and to learn. It’s fun to watch him.”
Senior Dalton Dembowski won his first two matches by pin pushing him up to the semifinals. Dembowski lost that match but pinned another opponent getting him into the third and fourth place match. “We lost the final match of the day but got on the podium with a fourth place finish,” Chumacero said.
Sophomore Byron Mackay had another short day as he only had two competitors in his weight class. He won the first match by pin and lost the second, leaving the Panthers with a second place finish.
“Mackay is looking tough, we just need to find a way to make him mad before matches. He seems to be unstoppable when he is mad,” Chumacero said, adding, “Going into the break I am very impressed with this young team. We will look to keep growing and keep working hard. I would like to wish everyone and the wrestling community a Merry Christmas!”
Special to the Herald Times