Panthers finish 7th at state

Five Rangely wrestlers earn individual medals

RANGELY — For the second year in a row, the Rangely Panther wrestling team finished seventh as a team at the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in the Pepsi Center in Denver. But this is the first time the Panthers qualified 11 wrestlers for the big show or returned with five individual medals.
“They wanted to do better than they did,” head coach Jeff LeBleu said. “We were hoping to finish in the top three but you have to win matches to be in the hunt for the title. We had four wrestlers go two and out and we lost seven matches by two points or less but I’m still very proud of this team and their accomplishments this season. We were 15-3 in dual meets, regional runners-up, 11 qualifiers and five state placers. It was a good year.”
Seniors Ryan Petty, Ryan Cramer and Christian Holcomb all earned state medals in their final high school season. Petty finished sixth in the 112-pound bracket and Cramer, lost his only match of the state tournament in the semifinals, before coming back to win two and the consolation championship in the 145-weight class, which featured two returning state champions in the finals.
Holcomb won his semifinals bout to advance to the 152-pound state championship match, where he lost to familiar foe Luke Wiggins of Paonia. Holcomb ended his senior season with a 36-8 record and state silver medal.
Devon Rose, who finished second last year, lost in the semifinals this year and finished fourth in the 125-pound bracket. Rose’s classmate Travis Witherell, who was also a state runner-up last year, also finished fourth this year in the 140-pound division.
Big men Michael Dillon and Kindal Cushman, also juniors, were both one match away from placing in their respective weights of 215 and 285.
Freshman Chance Peters (103), sophomores Blake Wanstedt (119) and Cole Barlow (135), along with junior Keane Raley (171), all qualified for the big show but did not win a match.
“They are already talking about next year,” LeBleu said. “We’ll be led by seniors next year for sure.”
“A big thank you to the businesses and individuals for their donations to the team and to Pauline (Brady) for getting us to Denver and back safely,” LeBleu said. “And special thanks to the Panther wrestling fans, thanks for making the trip and supporting us. Next season looks to be promising.”