The wrestling team from Hotchkiss High School peaked and won the 2A Region 1 title, then came back to earth last weekend at the state tournament in Denver.
The Bulldogs qualified an impressive 11 wrestlers for state, but many of them showed their youth and inexperience over the course of the three-day extravaganza and Hotchkiss finished in eighth place as a team with 75 points.
"When you're in regionals, every now and then you might have an easy match," Hotchkiss coach Richard Flores said. "You get here, there's no easy match. Even if you're the best, even if you're ranked No. 1, somebody's looking for ya. Somebody's gunning for ya. It's never going to be easy."
Hotchkiss was led at state by three grapplers who finished on the podium. Sergio Campos finished his outstanding freshman campaign with a 4-1 mark in the tournament and a third place medal at 106 pounds.
Campos got to the semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Jacob Rodriguez of Rocky Ford. Campos then won the consolation bracket and finished with a 35-7 record on the season.
Senior Austin Todd completed his high school wrestling career with a third-place medal in the 145-pound division. Todd led most of the match in his semifinal against Jace Logan of Soroco before falling in the last few seconds of the bout.
Todd rebounded in the wrestle backs and finished the year with a 32-7 record.
The third Bulldog to place was Kale Litzelman, who finished the tournament with a 3-2 mark that earned him fifth place at 170 pounds.
Six of the 11 Bulldogs who qualified for state failed to reach the quarterfinals after a disastrous first day of tournament action on Thursday.
"We lost more than I thought we were gonna lose. Maybe we did something wrong," Flores said. "I think our preparation was great, everybody's in shape, but when you come here to state, anything happens.
"Here there's a lot of head games, a lot of mind games that occur, but it's wrestling," he added. "You gotta go and be ready to beat the best and today we just didn't get that done."
Four Bulldogs wrestled well in the consolation bracket and finished 2-2 for the tournament.
Colton Cordova (113 pounds), Colton Hall (126), Colton DeLuzio (132) and Wade Katzdorn (160) all picked up a pair of wins in their respective weight classes for Hotchkiss.
Devin Curtis (195 pounds) and Joe Nault (220) each finished 1-2 in the tournament while Chris Lovato (120) and Conner Collins (heavyweight) both bowed out after two matches for the Bulldogs.
Hotchkiss was able to win the region with depth in all of the weight classes and nearly all of the Bulldogs will return next year.
"Right now I'm a little disappointed with how that went," Flores said. "But tomorrow is a new day and we'll see if we can get these kids going again. Could have gone a little bit better, but that's ok."
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