The Delta Panthers placed five wrestlers and earned 97 points to place 10th at the Tournament of Champions wrestling tournament in Vernal, Utah.
While the tournament celebrated its 40th year, this is the first year the Panthers have competed at Vernal, which drew 48 teams and more than 860 wrestlers from Utah, Wyoming and Colorado.
"It could have gone better," said coach Clayton Curtis. "I'm happy, but not satisfied."
Panthers David Brown (113 pounds) and Shane Anderson (126) placed in the top four. Brown, a sophomore, opened with two wins before losing in a 6-2 decision to the tournament champion. Brown won by decision in the semifinals, then defeated Case Baughman of Dove Creek, 7-5, to place third.
Anderson won by pinfall in his opening match, then lost to tournament runner-up Cole Baughman of Dove Creek. Anderson went on to win five in a row — two by pinfall, two by decision, and one by major decision — before falling to Zeke Mamalis of Green River in 4 minutes, 33 seconds, to place fourth.
At 170, freshman Kory Mills was 5-2 to place fifth. Mills lost his opening match by a 12-10 decision, then pinned four opponents to advance to round two of the consolation semifinals. Mills won his final match with a pin in 2:20.
In his first week back on the mat, Alfredo Rosales (182) opened with two wins and finished the tournament at 2-3 to place sixth.
Sophomore 285 Marcus Garcia was 3-3 to place sixth. Garcia opened with a loss to Cole Mair of Uintah, who was tournament runner-up, then won three in a row to advance to the consolation rounds.
The Panthers will work in the coming days on finishing with a win, since several losses were by only a point, said Curtis. Rosales lost in consolation semifinals by a 1-0 decision. Hunter Brasfield was 3-2. His wins were all by seven or more points, but both of his losses were by a point.
Anderson's match against Mamalis ended in a 5-5 tie, with Anderson getting pinned 12 seconds into overtime. It was a huge disappointment, said Curtis, "Like the Broncos game."
Competing in a tournament this size should pay off down the line, said Curtis. For some of the younger wrestlers, opening day was a bit overwhelming. But that's why they selected this tournament, "to get that big-tournament feel" in preparation for state. "It's a shocker that has affected kids' performances at state in the past," he said of walking into a stadium with 10 mats. But it's the same size of mat, and just another opponent on the other side. After a talk with the team, they settled down and performed better on day two. Curtis said the team got a lot out of the experience that can help them at the regional and state level. "Hopefully we can take those hard losses now and learn from them."
Delta hits the road again this weekend and will dual Monte Vista this Friday. They compete at the Alamosa Invitational this Saturday.