After a dual loss to Gunnison earlier in the week, the North Fork High School boys wrestling team responded by placing second at the Valley Invitational at Center High School, finishing behind only Class 5A Eaglecrest, who is ranked eighth in the largest classification.
The Miners also finished ahead of Centauri, ranked eighth in 3A, and a half-dozen ranked teams from lower classifications.
Heavyweight Sam Ware was the Miners’ lone winner, piling on three consecutive pins, each in less than 50 seconds.
“He’s a good, aggressive wrestler who was fighting an injury after Christmas, then he got sick and missed the Fight at the Fork,” North Fork coach Nate Wiggins said. “But I feel like he’s healthy now and peaking at the right time.”
The team’s success came from depth, starting with Lane Stroh’s second-place finish at 144 pounds. He notched a quick pin, followed by two decisions, then lost a 5-0 decision in the title match.
More success followed as 113-pounder Payson Pene placed third, while Peyton Armstrong (132 pounds) and Charlie Miller (138 pounds) took fourth. Daniel Owens (150 pounds) and Jakob Carver (165 pounds) placed sixth in their respective weight classes.
The team was wrestling without two key wrestlers. With their support, Wiggins thinks his team might’ve even been able to make a run at Eaglecrest.
“It was just a great weekend all around,” Wiggins said. “All the regular varsity guys we had were able to score points and we proved we can go with a lot of these top-ranked guys.”
The Miners host a dual against Delta at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, then head to a tri-meet at Coal Ridge on Friday.
The Panthers were also present at the Valley Invitational, placing ninth. Dawsen Drozdik (106 pounds), Matthew Valdez (113 pounds) and Kyle Kincaide (144 pounds) all placed fourth.
After the dual against North Fork, the Panthers head to the Meeker Duals on Saturday
The Bruins took third at the Butch Melton Invitational in Ignacio and finished as the top Colorado team at the meet, placing behind a pair of New Mexico schools in Bloomington and Farmington.
Ethan Hice won at 120 pounds with four pins and a 7-3 decision in the championship match. Ethan Toothaker faced his toughest test in the 150-pound semifinals, securing the sudden victory win to punch his ticket to an eventual championship win. All four of Toothaker’s other victories came by pin.
Josh Martinez was third at 113 pounds, as was Tayton Nelson at 126 pounds and Elias Hanson at 138 pounds.
Cedaredge will host a dual against Gunnison at 6 p.m. Thursday.
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