Panthers take four to state, seniors Varner and Mackay in top four

RANGELY | This year the Panthers took four wrestlers to the “big show”. Sophomore Kobey Chism at 132 pounds, senior Zane Varner (152), junior Kasen LeBleu (220), and senior Byron Mackay (HWT). Wrestling started on Thursday and each Panther wrestled one match.

“Chism had a very tough first draw facing off against the number two seed from Wray where we took a loss,” commented head coach JC Chumacero.

Chism’s opponent ended up being the state runner up. LeBleu also fell to a Wray opponent.

The seniors came out firing; both Varner and Mackay beat their first opponents by pin.

“I was happy with the first day,” said Chumacero.

On day two the morning started with two very tough match-ups for Varner and Mackay facing off against fellow Rio Blanco County wrestlers from Meeker. Varner lost a competitive match against the 152 pound state runner up, Connor Blunt 4-2. Mackay also lost a tight one 5-2 to Tanner Musser.

“I respect the program Meeker has built,” commented Chumacero.”They have very tough kids and a pretty star studded coaching staff. I was very impressed with how those two competed against them.”

LeBleu lost a heartbreaker in overtime against his Center opponent 3-1 who ended up getting 6th, but eliminated him from the tournament.

“I hope Kasen can see how much into these matches he truly is,” said Chumacero. “We are looking forward to his improvement for next year.”

Kobey came away with the only win for the second session, beating his Center opponent 4-0. One more win was needed in order to make it into day three. Chism lost a very close match to a senior from Olathe he had lost to at regionals.

“He looked like a completely different wrestler and I could tell he just decided to cut loose and have fun in the match losing 4-3, eliminating him from the tournament,” commented Chumacero. “As a sophomore, making it to state is impressive and I see Kobey having a very bright future in this sport with years to come.”

Both Varner and Mackay were able to come away with wins from regional foes, getting them into day three. Zane beat Norwood in dominating fashion 7-1, and Byron beat his Ignacio opponent by pin. Day three the seniors were left facing what is called the “blood rounds” their first match of the day was a “win or go home” situation. Varner beat his Custer County opponent 8-2 and Mackay defeated his North Ford opponent by fall. This advanced both of them into the medal rounds.

Varner left no question getting him into the 3/4 match as he dominated his Fowler competitor pinning him in 35 seconds. Mackay battled hard, beating his Trinidad opponent 8-6 also getting him into the third place match.

With their last high school matches in front of them, both Varner and Mackay shook the hands of their opponents one last time. Varner lost a battle to Lyons losing 5-0. Byron lost to County Line by fall in a match he was winning.

“Both of these young men came away top four in the state in their respective weights,” began Chumacero about the seniors’ performance. “That is very impressive and I’m extremely proud of them. It was a great weekend of wrestling and I’m very proud of all the young men that participated.”

“I would like to thank my whole team and coaching staff for sticking by my side this year,” wrapped-up Chumacero. “Coach Dillon and Coach Buck. Managers Kenzie Satterly and Whitney Rusher. Freshmen Aydan Christian (113) and Landon Carlson (120), junior Colton Stevens (126), sophomore Kobey Chism (132), freshman Izaiah Moody (138), senior Braxton Moore (145), senior Joseph Adams (145), senior Zane Varner (152), senior Alex Black (160) senior Brent Cantrell (170), junior Kasen LeBleu (220), and senior Byron Mackay (HWT).

Special to the Herald Times