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RANGELY | The Panther wrestling team competed in the Northwestern Colorado wrestling championships last Saturday. The team placed fourth overall, and wrestled very well.
“We just can’t compete team score wise with the teams that have full rosters,” said head coach Jeff LeBleu.
Curtis Reeves at 80 pounds was one match away from the medal round.
“Curtis has improved each year he has wrestled and I hope he sticks with it because he can become a good little wrestler,” LeBleu said.
Anthony Dorris at 85 pounds placed fourth.
“Anthony really didn’t wrestle to his ability I didn’t think, he needs to get confident in his shots, once he does that he will be placing higher.”
Mariah Henson at 90 pounds wrestles hard each week, according to LeBleu. “Her confidence is lacking, once we turn that corner she will be fun to watch.”
Sixth grader Kobey Chism wrestled his best tournament of the season.
“Kobey defeated two wrestlers who have had his number this year. Kobey pinned his first three opponents including Ty Goedert from Meeker, and beat Candin Call from Moffat County 6-2 in the finals. Kobey is peaking at the right time,” LeBleu said.
Braxton Moore at 95 pounds lost to the eventual champion in the semis and lost 6-5 in the consolation side to take fourth. “Braxton has the ability to be a good wrestler he just needs to keep with it. It will get tougher as Braxton will move up to the high school level next year.”
Sixth grader Jaxon Torsell was also defeated in the semis by the eventual champ in the third place match. “Jaxon has been away from wrestling for three years, he looked pretty good all season, he will grow and keep learning, next season should be exciting for him.”
Kasen LeBleu (120) “also has confidence issues, he works hard in practice and he shows signs of getting it but he just isn’t there yet. He will get there and should be another good year next year.”
Seventh grader Wyatt Wiley at 150 pounds hasn’t wrestled for quite a few years. “Wyatt came out this season and has improved every week, It will be exciting to see him progress next season and the years to come.”
Eighth grader Zane Varner has had a great junior high career. Varner was undefeated last season, won the North Western Colorado Championships the last two seasons and has only been defeated twice this year, once in a sudden death match against Voloshin from Moffat County and in a match against Kelton Turner of Meeker. “Varner got revenge against Voloshin and defeated him 4-2 to win the championship.”
Eighth grader Dontea Pearce has had an outstanding season, Dontea finished this season with an 18-1 record. “Dontea has really turned it on this year. He will also make a big impact at the high school level. Dontea is one of the wrestlers that get into situations and seems to come out on top most of the time.”
“Eighth grader Brent Cantrell has improved so much from last year and if he keeps improving I think good things will happen in the future for Brent. It will take some hard work,” LeBleu said.
Coach LeBleu said he and “Dirt” Claude would like to thank all of the wrestlers from day one to the end of the season, saying, “nobody quit and they all worked hard all season long.”
He also thanked JC Chumacero for all his long hours tracking, setting up the tournament to ending up officiating the tournament, Travis Witherell for all his help with tracking wrestling and also officiating, Joe Gutierrez for the last minute call and coming to Rangely to help officiate. All the tournament helpers, custodians and bracket runners, all the ladies involved in setting up and running the hospitality room: “still the best in the state,” and last but not least photographer Cheryl Peed, whose “pictures are amazing.”
Nine wrestlers will compete in the north west regionals in Grand Junction Saturday with the top six advancing to the state tournament.