Broomfield -- Moffat County High School sophomore Steven Englert knew going into the regional wrestling meet he could surprise some people. After Friday night, he and his teammates are posed to surprise a lot of people.
The Bulldogs sent 10 wrestlers into the semifinals, including Englert, who returned to the mat after sitting out a month with an injury to promptly pin Zac Harvey of Palisade. Englert's first round was a first round bye.
"I knew I had to beat some good kids because I don't have a very good seed," said the 112 pounder. "The Palisade kid wasn't as strong as I thought he would be and I pinned him pretty easily."
Englert would be lined up with for a match with the tournament's top seed, but Joe Castner of Evergreen didn't prove to be as tough as his seed when Drew Himelstieb of Montrose pinned him.
"I watched the very end of the match and it looked pretty intense," Englert said. "But I think I can wrestle with the Montrose kid."
Englert was one of eight Bulldogs to pin their opponents in the second round. Senior Deric Dill (125) and junior Eric Fredrickson (119) were the only victorious Bulldogs not to get pins.
"I'm really happy with the guys right now," coach Roman Gutierrez said. "You can see that fire, and if we keep it up we could win these next two tournaments."
The Bulldogs came into the meet ranked fifth in the state with Broomfield, the tournament's host, ranked fourth. Montrose ranked sixth, Rifle seventh and Delta ninth.
After day one the defending state champions from Moffat County had separated themselves from the field with a score of 107 points compared to Broomfield's 88.5 and Montrose's 87.5.
"The early part of the season is just practice and we might have struggled a bit then," sophomore Korey Kostur (135) said. "We come to wrestle when it matters."
The Bulldogs tallied up 14 pins in their 17 wins. Not counting byes, they went 17-4 the first night. They did it by beating opponents they had lost to during the "practice" part of the season -- junior Shayne Zimmerman (152) beat Chris Salazar of Battle Mountain, who had defeated Zimmerman in a dual, and senior Jody Moncrief (189) pinned Chance Bramlett of Delta after the senior barely beat him by one point earlier.
"Shayne came in without having to worry about his weight and just wrestle and it showed," Gutierrez said. "It's pretty amazing too that Jody is just one win away from going to state."
With 10 wrestlers in the semifinals, each wrestler is one win away from a trip to state. With some help from buys wrestling though the back door Gutierrez was upbeat about their chances to win this weekend and be right in the hunt at state.
"We could get more guys than last year," he said. "The rest of this weekend we need to match wins with Broomfield and Montrose to keep our lead."
The only wrestlers not in the semis for Moffat County are: freshman Levi Weber (103), who won his first match and had second seed John Tangeman on his back but could seal it and was pinned in the second period; sophomore Daniel Cramblett (145), who won his first match and also had his opponent on his back but couldn't hold on and was pinned in the second round, freshman Nick Navaratil, who was the only Bulldog to lose in the first round after drawing first seed Jesse Long of Rifle; junior Kyle Fredrickson (275) was pinned in the first period of his second-round match.
"Kyle was the only guy who I really thought should have won who didn't," Gutierrez said. "He'll have a tough go in that bracket but I think he can still get to state."
Except for Fredrickson's loss the Bulldogs were satisfied with their first day.
"We showed our ability today," senior Jesse Brookshire said. "We probably need six or seven guys in the finals tomorrow to take the tournament and we're wrestling confident."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org