RANGELY I This weekend the Panther wrestling team competed in the regional tournament. This is the tournament that determines who makes it to state.
“In a “normal” year, the top four placers of this tournament qualify for the Big Show,” commented head coach JC Chumacero, “and this year they only will be taking the top two. I think we have all realized that things just have not been normal and these young men have accepted that. We all knew coming into this tournament that we had to get into the finals to be comfortable in qualifying for the ‘Big Show.’”
Further complications to this year’s wrestling season was the loss of the consolation side of the bracket in the first round of a 16 man bracket.
Sophomore Colton Stevens at 126 pounds was the first Panther to fall victim of this new rule. He drew the second seed right off the bat, Christian Keller, who is ranked number six in the state, and unfortunately was done after falling in the first period.
Junior Alex Black at 138 pounds also lost in the first round eliminating him from the tournament. Freshman Kobey Chism had to win his first match to keep out of the same boat, pinning his first opponent from Meeker, Tyson Portwood, Chism was able to make it past the single elimination round.
“Chism had a tough draw his second round losing to number seven ranked and second seed from Cedaredge, AJ Robidoux,” said Chumacero.
Chism lost his last match of the day to Carter Galloway from Mancos opponent taking him out of the tournament. “He wrestled really hard all season and will be a force the next three years,” commented Chumacero.
Junior Braxton Moore at 145 pounds had a bye his first round, but then lost two matches in a row taking him out. His first match was against number six ranked Reagan Todd from Paonia. “He did also lose his second match, but wrestled really hard,” said Chumacero.
Moore suffered an injury early in the year and was unable to compete for more than half of it. Day two the Panthers entered six wrestlers. Junior Brent Cantrell at 170 pounds was unfortunately the only one to lose his first round eliminating him from the tournament. “This young man has really come a long way,” said Chumacero, “he is in the room all summer and never misses a practice.”
Sophomore Kasen LeBleu (220) lost both of his matches. “He wrestled hard all season,” commented Chumacero.
Freshman Jaxon Torsell (195), “lost a very close first match in a weight where I feel like he could have made some serious noise,” said Chumacero. Torsell suffered an injury where he was unable to finish the tournament.
Juniors Zane Varner (152) and Byron Mackay (285) both placed third. Varner lost a tough match in the semi finals putting him in the consolation side of the bracket. He pinned his next two opponents, getting him third place. Mackay took the same route, also getting third.
Varner and Mackay were both in a situation where they could have been in challenge matches depending on who won the first and second place match. Unfortunately there were no chances for wrestle backs.
In a “normal” year, they both would have made it to state. Lone senior Anthony Garner did not place. “This young man is the definition of heart,” said Chumacero. “His first loss was to number six ranked Meeker wrestler Dax Sheridan.” Garner was not willing to just give up and beat a very tough fight his next match winning 2-1. He lost his last match of his career which would have put him in the placing rounds.
“Anthony is someone I will truly miss. He has always been a young man who never quits. I am excited to see what his future holds,” commented Chumacero.
Chumacero wrapped up by saying, “Every year I like to thank the team for sticking by my side. I couldn’t emphasize this more with the crazy year we have had. Colton Stevens (126), Kobey Chism (132), Alex Black (138), Braxton Moore (145), Zane Varner (152), Brent Cantrell (170), Julian Pena (170), Anthony Garner (182), Jaxon Torsell (195), Kasen LeBleu (220), and Byron Mackay (285). I would also like to thank manager Kenzie Satterly and assistant coaches Mike Dillon and Jeff (Buck) LeBleu. Thank you all for sticking by my side once again.”