Panthers fight hard at Tournament of Champions

RANGELY I Last weekend the Panther wrestling team competed in one of the most challenging tournaments they will compete in all year. Brackets were 32 men deep, filled with 2A up to 5A schools from Utah, Wyoming and Colorado. 

Landon Carlson at 113 pounds, Colton Stevens (126), Izaiah Moody (132), Braxton Moore (144), and Brent Cantrell (175) came up short of wins this weekend.

“All of these young men wrestled tough, they all lost to very solid competitors (one of them even being the tournament runner up) and have nothing to hang their heads down for,” said head coach JC Chumacero. 

Alex Black (157) and Kasen LeBleu (215) were both able to secure a win. 

“They both also fought hard,” began Chumacero, “LeBleu continues to improve week to week. He was able to get a couple extra matches in on Saturday where he went 2-1.” 

Four Panthers made it into the second day of wrestling. Aydan Christian (106) and Kobey Chism (132) were both on the consolation side of the bracket and were only one match away from the medal rounds going into Saturday. 

“Both Aydan and Kobey lost their match eliminating them from the tournament,” said Chumacero, “I hope they can both see how well they truly did in a tournament like this.” Freshman Christian finished his weekend 3-2 and sophomore Chism 2-2. 

“They are young and will continue to grow if they keep working hard,” commented Chumacero. Zane Varner (150) and Byron Mackay (HWT) both went into Saturday in the semi finals. 

“This is a pretty big accomplishment as it is,” said Chumacero, “Zane wrestled a very smart and technical match defeating his Utah number two ranked (3A) Juab opponent 10-4”. 

Varner’s win advanced him into the finals. Mackay faced off against a Rio Blanco County foe, Tanner Musser. It was a very close match and Mackey fell by points losing 2-1, which dropped down to the consolation side where he pinned his next opponent. This advanced him to the consolation semifinals where he wrestled for third. 

“He continued to wrestle hard but unfortunately lost his last match of the day,” commented Chumacero, “he finished 4-2 on the weekend and took fourth place”. 

Varner entered the finals as the first Panther to make it that far in about 13 years. Varner was ready to wrestle but the 5A Utah number one ranked wrestler from Uintah came out very strong. 

“Zane fell short but finished his weekend 3-1 and a second place finish,” wrapped up Chumacero, “placing in this tournament is a huge accomplishment and these two seniors should be extremely proud. I’m proud of the whole team and I feel like they are ready to keep working hard and preparing for regionals.” 

The Panther wrestlers will be in Hayden this weekend with the tournament beginning at 9 a.m. 

Special to the Herald Times