Photo by Wayne Crick Delta coaches Luis Meza, center, and Clayton Curtis congratulate 152-pound senior Hunter Brasfield after an upset win sent him into the 4A Region 4 semifinals. Brasfield, who placed fourth and was one of six Delta wrestlers to qualify for this week’s state tournament, was wrestling in memory of his late cousin.After an upset win over No. 3 seed Nick Nira of Thompson Valley in Friday's quarterfinal round, Delta senior Hunter Brasfield received kudos from his coaches, a roaring cheer from the stands, and a big hug from his dad, Scott Brasfield.
The win sent him into the 4A Region 4 semifinals on Saturday, and put him one step closer to qualifying for this week's state tournament.
Brasfield then slipped into a white T-shirt that read, "Win the day for Jamie."
"He's my cousin," said Brasfield of Jamie Brasfield, of Vernal, Utah. Jamie grew up in Rangely, and was a state placer on the Panthers wrestling team. A year ago, Jamie was diagnosed with cancer, said Brasfield. For the last few months he was treated for an aggressive form of melanoma. "Ever since I found that out I've been wrestling for Jamie," said Brasfield, who wrestles at 152. He finished the season at 24-9 and won 17 of his last 20 matches.
Jamie Brasfield passed away last Wednesday at the age of 30.
"It's all I think about every day," said Brasfield, his voice shaking from a mixture of sadness and excitement. "Today is Jamie's day. Every day is Jamie's day. I just don't want to let him down. He's up there watching."
Brasfield's cheering section included his parents, two grandmothers, and his girlfriend, Kaitlyn Suppes. His sister, junior Brittany Brasfield, would have been there, too, but is a forward for the Delta girls basketball team and had a game Friday. The Lady Panthers defeated Summit that night, and Palisade on Saturday to remain undefeated and ranked first in the 4A Western Slope League.
While the family traveled to Arizona for Jamie's memorial last week, Hunter and Brittany "have been home and practicing and trying to keep things rolling," said Trudy Brasfield.
"It was really, really, really hard on him," said Trudy. "Hunter was really close to Jamie."
Head coach Clayton Curtis credited Brasfield for wrestling a smart match against Nira, and for keeping his cool under the immense emotional and physical stress. "They got in a little scramble and instead of panicking he just stayed calm and kept wrestling through the scramble," said Curtis. "He ended up pinning a really good kid."
Brasfield lost in the semifinals to No. 2 seed Cody Soulka of Falcon, then wrestled back to a fourth-place finish to qualify for state. Five other wrestlers also qualified for the state meet, which opens tomorrow at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Senior Shane Anderson (126) suffered an upset in his opening match, then regrouped to win four straight matches and place third. Anderson is Delta's only returning state qualifier.
David Brown (113) and Alfredo Rosales (182) also wrestled in Saturday's semifinal round. Brown was the No. 1 seed and knew after advancing to the semifinals that state wasn't yet a sure thing. "I still have some tough matches," said Brown, a sophomore and second-year varsity wrestler, "but I've just got to keep my mind straight and keep the confidence."
After getting pinned in the semifinals, Brown won his remaining matches, defeating Emmanuel Sandoval of Montrose (23-9) by a 6-1 decision to place third.
Rosales also lost by pinfall in the semis and won two in a row to place third.
Heavyweight Marcus Garcia was upset in the opening round, then won four consecutive matches, placing third after defeating No. 2 seed Matt Isaacs of Thompson Valley.
"We were expecting him to wrestle in the semis," said Curtis at the end of Friday's second round of wrestling. "Even the easy ones that we thought we were going to have, they ended up not being easy... That's wrestling for you. Anything can happen."
Senior Kyle Collins also qualified for state. Collins wrestled to a 4-2 regional record to place fourth at 195 pounds.
Lino Ortiz (220) lost in his opening match to No. 1 seed Andy Armstrong of Eagle Valley (36-0). Ortiz was 3-2 to place sixth. Derek Horn (145) finished at 3-3 to place sixth.
Junior Hayes McCracken (21-18) was seeded 10th and opened with an upset win by pinfall over Quintin Day of Palisade. Three weeks earlier, Day had defeated McCracken with a first-round pin. In the quarterfinals, McCracken lost by a 15-14 decision to a 28-9 wrestler from Summit. The match ended in a controversial call by the referee. "He did an excellent job," said Curtis of McCracken. "He gave it everything he had."
Jayden Chynoweth (106, 26-12) and Kory Mills (170, 23-16) were 2-2 for the tournament, and Kodie Komives (138, 9-23) and Cordell Stroud (160, 24-11) finished at 1-2.
Delta was in fifth place with 73.5 points at the close of Friday's competition and ended the tournament in fourth place with 141.5 points. Thompson Valley won the 17-team tournament with 231 points.