The Delta Panthers had a strong showing on opening day of the 4A Region 4 wrestling tournament at Montrose. Panther wrestlers lost one opening-round match and were successful in quarterfinals with seven wins.
Delta led in points in the 16-team tournament heading into Saturday's semifinals.
From there things got tough, said head coach Clayton Curtis. Only one wrestler, heavyweight Marcus Garcia, won in the semis. Three of the team's semifinal losses were to wrestlers Delta had previously beaten. "Until then we were ahead," said Curtis.
Delta finished third with 172.5 points, and just 2.5 points behind the fourth-ranked team in the state, Discovery Canyon. Pueblo County, ranked sixth in state, scored 187 points for the win. The Panthers will send seven wrestlers - one more than in 2013 - to this week's state tournament in Denver.
While there were some disappointments, "I'm pretty happy with that," said Curtis.
Garcia was seeded second and won the semifinal round by decision over fourth-seeded Jose Prado of Rifle. In the championship match Garcia lost by a 7-1 decision to No. 1-seeded Jesus Casillas (26-3) of Montrose, whom he lost to in an ultimate tiebreaker at the Warrior Classic. Curtis said that, much like at the Warrior, the match was tied 1-1 heading into the final round. Early in the third round, Garcia was called for shoving Casillas off of the mat. Curtis said the call shook him up a bit, and under pressure he took a risky shot at Casillas and ended up on his back.
"It's one of those things he'll learn from," said Curtis.
Junior Derek Horn (152) advanced to the semis with a win over Alex Rivas of Rifle. At the end of round one, Rivas took Horn to the mat at the buzzer but wasn't awarded the points, ending the round at 0-0. Horn went on to win by an 11-3 decision.
Had Rivas scored, the tone may have been different. "It's all about setting the tone myself, wrestle my match," said Horn, who ended the tournament in fourth place and with a 31-13 record. Last year he finished sixth.
"We've been working on it since last year," after the Panthers lost out at state, said Horn. "Last year I wasn't able to make state. This year ..."
Horn, a junior who placed sixth last year, qualified with a fourth-place finish. This year has been better, said Horn, crediting summer camp participation and hitting the weight room hard, "and that made a difference."
Also qualifying were Cordell Stroud (30-13, 182), who lost in semifinals and wrestled back to place third. At 220 pounds, Alejandro Medina also placed third.
At 120 pounds, senior Hays McCracken (24-9) was 3-2 for the tournament to place third. He finished with a pin (1:57) over Trever LaFramboise of Eagle.
Daryan Urquhart lost to tournament champion Myles Wilson (42-2) of Glenwood Springs in the semis. Urquhart won by decision over Mason Mooring of Pueblo County and, after placing fourth, again beat Mooring in wrestle-backs.
One of the disappointments was returning state qualifier David Brown's semifinal loss. Brown didn't recover, and finished in sixth place.
little more motivated than last year," said Brown on Friday, crediting strong leadership. And while he'll have to wait until next season to try again, Brown's twin brother, first-year varsity wrestler Daniel Brown (27-13) qualified with a fourth-place finish at 160 pounds. Both are juniors.
"It was tough," said Curtis of David Brown's season-ending losses. "He's one of our better wrestlers and he's not going to state. It just feels like the team isn't complete."
Sophomore 170-pounder Kory Mills (25-10) was in a tough bracket, going 3-3 to place sixth. "Two of the hardest-working kids on the team," said Curtis.
This week's practices will be "short and sweet," and will be held late at night in anticipation of Thursday night's opening matches. The upper weights, where Delta has the most qualifiers, won't begin until at least 9 p.m.blog comments powered by Disqus