The Delta Panthers qualified six wrestlers for the Colorado High School Activities Association's 81st annual State Wrestling Tournament. Delta placed fifth with 134 points and placed in nine weight divisions at the 3A Region 1 wrestling tournament, held Friday and Saturday at Buena Vista. Moffat County scored 196 points to win the 14-team tournament.
The semifinals were an especially tough round on Delta, said head coach Clayton Curtis. Of the seven they sent in, only one, junior heavyweight Logan Church, advanced.
Two highly seeded seniors whom Curtis expected to have a good tournament won't be going to state.
Senior Kole Roberts was seeded third and lost the semifinal match to the No. 2 seed from Buena Vista and dropped his consolation semifinals match against Montezuma-Cortez, by a 5-4 decision. He finished fifth.
"It was not his best tournament," said Curtis. That he didn't qualify is a big loss for the whole team. "State won't be the same without him. He's a leader on the team."
Senior Sam Komives was the No. 2 seed at 195. Komives was pinned in quarterfinals and went on to place sixth.
"I thought they both had a real legitimate shot at placing in state," said Curtis. "It hurt a lot."
Curtis didn't want those disappointments to take away from the wrestlers who qualified. "It's hard not to be disappointed, but at the same time we're sending six to state."
Church was seeded second and lost by a 5-3 decision to the senior No. 1 seeded senior from Bayfield.
Church takes a 38-2 record into the state tournament
One senior, Chance Dillingham was among three Delta wrestlers to place third. Dillingham, who wrestles at 152 pounds, won his consolation semifinal match by an 11-2 major decision over Moffat County.
At 160, junior Drake Horn placed third in a 7-3 decision over Buena Vista.
Horn had a "phenomenal tournament," said Curtis. His only loss was to the fifth-ranked wrestler in the state, Caleb Jolley of Olathe.
And at 182, senior Livan Santander defeated Olathe's Justin Mosher to place third. Seniors Logan Mayberry (113) and Aiden Barrios (170) placed fourth.
The positive effects of qualifying five underclassmen for state will carry into the next season, said Curtis. Where wrestlers finish at state is huge in determining seeding in future tournaments like the Warrior Classic. A higher seeding can give wrestlers a better shot at placing. "In 4A we battled with that," said Curtis. "It's crazy how much one regional tournament can make a difference."
The state tournament opens Thursday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Brackets and live tracking of the tournament are available at TrackWrestling.com.