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RANGELY — The Panther wrestlers were in Palisade last Friday and Saturday to compete in the very tough regional tournament.
On Friday the team did not wrestle up to its potential and we lost some matches that kept us from sending one more over the hill.
The Panthers regrouped Saturday morning and wrestled as well as they had all season long.
Freshman Chance Peters had a wrestle-back opportunity and made the most of it by pinning his North Park opponent in the first period. With this win Chance earned a berth in the state tournament.
At 112, senior Ryan Petty took second place. Petty didn’t wrestle his finals match with the same intensity as he has this season and lost 8-6. This will be Petty’s second appearance in Denver.
At 119, sophomore Blake Wanstedt’s only loss of the tournament was to the No. 1-ranked kid in the state. Wanstedt took third and will also be making his first trip to Denver.
At 125, junior Devon Rose easily won the championship by pinning his way through the tournament. This is Rose’s third appearance in the state tournament.
At 130, junior JC Chumacero had a rough time. We knew he had to win the first match or it was going to be hard to place in this tough weight. Chumacero got behind by two at the end of the first period and just couldn’t make up the difference and placed fifth. I feel for JC because he works as hard as anyone in the room and he deserves to be making the trip.
At 135, sophomore Cole Barlow took the hard route to placing. Cole lost his first match on Friday but came back with a lot of heart and placed third. This will be Barlow’s first appearance in Denver.
Junior Travis Witherell at 140 advanced to the finals but was defeated by the No. 1-ranked kid in the state. Witherell has been out of action due to an injury but he should be just fine for Denver. This will be Witherell’s second time in Denver.
At 145, senior Ryan Cramer had the match of the tournament. Cramer didn’t wrestle well at all on Friday night but came back Saturday and pinned the defending state champion from Paonia. The only problem was there was another defending state champion he would face in the finals,
Cramer lost but still placed second and will also be making his second trip to Denver.
At 152, senior Christian Holcomb advanced to the finals but lost 3-0 to the No. 1-ranked kid in the state currently. Holcomb is ranked second and hopefully will get another shot at him. Holcomb also qualified last year.
At 171, junior Keane Raley placed third and will be making his second trip to Denver. Raley wrestled well all tournament long.
First year wrestler sophomore Bo Armstrong wrestled two matches and was eliminated. Armstrong has really improved from the first time he stepped on the mat until now.
At 215, junior Mike “Butterbean” Dillon placed third and will be making his first trip to state. Dillon redeemed himself from an earlier loss and pinned his Paonia opponent.
At heavyweight, junior Kindal Cushman pinned his way through his bracket and will be making his first trip to Denver.
I am so glad he listened to us because we told him he belongs on the mat not on the basketball court.
I really have a lot of thank yous: to the Holcomb family for the dinner while Kasen was in the hospital, Mike Cushman for getting the team to Rifle, my coaching staff for taking care of the team while I am away with my father in the hospital and for my team for understanding.