As he watched Delta High School's Tyler Morfitt work Broomfield's Adam Gutierrez in the 160-pound championship match, Moffat County junior Scott Garoutte turned to his teammates and started to congratulate them.
"We've got it fellas," he said. "Regionals is ours."
The statement might have been one more of relief than celebration, as up until Morfitt's 11-5 win, the Bulldogs were in a tight team race against Broomfield. Gutierrez's loss sealed the win for Moffat County and made Garoutte's match that was still to come icing on the cake instead of a high-pressure cooker.
All of Saturday Broomfield and Moffat County, the third-and fifth- ranked teams respectively in Class 4A, had a back-and-forth showdown. Both teams had five wrestlers in the consolation final and six wrestlers in the finals. Going into the consolations, the Bulldogs were trailing by a half point, 229.5 to 229. The dueling teams had three wrestlers win their consolation matches but the Bulldogs retook the lead with the help of a pin by Kyle Fredrickson (275-pound class) in the fifth- a nd sixth-place match.
After Fredrickson's win, Moffat County regained a half-point lead going into the finals 240-239.5.
Broomfield started out strong with consecutive wins in the 103 and 112 pound classes of finals, including John Ness' 9-1 major decision against Moffat County sophomore Steven Englert at 112 pounds. Those two wins gave the Eagles a 10 1/2- point lead, but that was all the points they would score in the finals. In contrast, the three-time defending state champion Bulldogs took care of their next five opponents.
When Morfitt's win came, the Bulldogs had a 3-point lead and Broomfield had no wrestlers left. Brent Chamberlain (171) and Garroutte still had matches for Moffat County, both of which they pinned their opponents in to open the Moffat County lead back up to 15 1/2 points.
"We put a lot of pressure on Broomfield to win big matches if they wanted to stay close," Moffat County coach Roman Gutierrez said. "They came out strong but had some tough matches later they couldn't overcome."
The deciding factor in the team race was the head-to-head meeting at 140 pounds between Moffat County's Kaleb Brown and Broomfield's Cassidy Klements. At the start of the match Broomfield was holding onto a half-point lead.
In the second period Brown wrapped Klements into a pinning move called the Sanders but the referee didn't recognize it as a pin. The move, which isn't used much in Colorado, didn't earn Brown back points.
"Somebody needs to teach the refs about the Sanders," Brown said. "If I didn't have him pinned, I at least earned some back points."
Brown held on to a 4-3 lead throughout the third period and earned a reversal as time expired for the 6-3 win, earning his team a decisive 3 1/2-point lead.
"I was pretty focused going into the match because I'd had a pretty easy time up until the final and I knew it would be different," said Brown, who won his second consecutive regional title. "It was a big match for me because it could have made the difference the team race and it helped my confidence going into state."
Before Brown senior Jesse Brookshire (130) and sophomore Korey Kostur fulfilled their top seeds with wins.
Brookshire's win wasn't pretty compared to first three pins, but his 4-2 victory against Delta's Brent West got him what he wanted -- a regional bracket in his first appearance at the tournament.
"Being a first seed put some pressure on me to get into the championship," he said.
"But once I got there and the team race was close I was focused."
Focusing was what 171-pound junior Brent Chamberlain was working on before his match as well. It would have been easy to blow it off since he had wrestled and pinned his opponent, Palisade's Kyle Britton, three times already this year. The fourth time wasn't a charm for Britton as the match resulted in the same results as the first three for Chamberlain with a first-round pin.
"It was important for me this year to wrestle well because I just missed getting to state last year," Chamberlain said. "Now I have a first seed and we'll go from there."
Two of the most dominating performances of the tournament came from the highest state-ranked Bulldogs. Both Kostur (ranked third in 135) and Garoutte (top ranked in 215) pinned through all of their matches including the championships.
"I wanted to pin all of my opponents under a minute," Kostur said. "That worked until the championship and when I got past a minute I decided I would tech fall the guy."
Kostur pinned Simon Malson of Conifer in the second period after building a 17-4 lead.
Garoutte, was yet to be challenged by a Class 4A opponent this year but things were expected to be different in his match against Montrose's Jake Finnegan. The Montrose wrestler hung in until late in the second round when Garoutte took him to his back for a pin.
"Finnegan was strong," Garoutte said. "But I watched him in other matches and it seemed like he tired down toward the end so I was working to tire him and got the right hold in the second period."
The right hold is what the Bulldogs have going into the state tournament if they continue to wrestle the way the did in regionals, according to Gutierrez.
"Going in I thought that if we could get at least nine guys to state we'd have a chance to be right in there," he said. "It came down to the finals and our kids showed what it took. We need one more week like that." Other Moffat County qualifiers were: freshman Levi Weber (103), fourth; junior Eric Fredrickson (119), third; senior Deric Dill (125), third; junior Shayne Zimmerman (152), fourth; senior Jody Moncrief (189) third.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or email@example.com
103 -- John Tangeman, Broomfield, pinned Taylor Gallegos, Montrose, 6:00; 112 -- John Ness, maj. dec. Steven Englert, Moffat County, 9-1; 119 -- Derek Brewer, Delta, pinned Luke Wooten, Rifle, 3:38; 125 -- Rodney Long, Rifle, dec. Brad Neitenbach, Broomfield, 11-5; 130 -- Jesse Brookshire, Moffat County, dec. Brent West, Delta, 4-2; 135 -- Korey Kostur, Moffat County, pinned Simon Malson, Conifer, 3:21; 140 -- Kaleb Brown, Moffat County, pinned Cassidy Klements, Broomfield, 6-3; 145 -- Takafumi Hashimoto, Mullen, maj.dec. Anthony Laurita, Delta, 11-3; 152 -- Casie Dunlap, Rifle, pinned Vinny Marone, Broomfield, 4:52; 160 -- Tyler Morfitt, Delta, dec. Adam Gutierrez, Broomfield, 11-5; 171 -- Brent Chamberlain, Moffat County, pinned Kyle Britton, Palisade, 1:45; 189 -- Dmitri Barrientos, Montrose, pinned John Duff, Mullen, 1:38; 215 -- Scott Garroute, Moffat County, pinned Jake Finnegan, Montrose, 3:46; 275 -- Cody Stackpole, Battle Mountain, pinned Adam Graves, Ralston Valley, 1:47.
103 -- Eddie Kreimier, Rifle, dec. Levi Weber, Moffat County, 11-3; 112 -- Zac Harvey, Palisade, pinned Tyler Thompson, Rifle, 1:14; 119 -- Eric Fredrickson, Moffat County, dec. Rudy Frausto, Battle Mountain, 9-5; 125 -- Deric Dill, Moffat County, maj. dec. Cody Kuene, Delta, 13-1; 130 -- Josh Hollingshead, Montrose, dec. A.J. Nelson, Golden, 7-3; 135 -- Matt Clevenger, Broomfield, dec. Shawn Sanchez, Montrose, 11-9; 140 -- Bryant Hunter, Montrose, maj. dec. Joey Logsdon, Palisade, 13-3; 145 -- David Marone, Broomfield, dec. Rocko Weaver, Palisade, 5-1; 152 -- Tyler Barnes, Palisade, pinned Shayne Zimmerman, Moffat County, 1:47; 160 -- Lucas Mignogna, Golden, won by injury default over Jess Long, Rifle; 171 -- Blaine Summer, Conifer, won by injury default over Joe Chierotti, Broomfield; 189 -- Jody Moncrief, Moffat County, dec. Chance Bramlett, Delta, 6-0; 215 -- Dustin Deprospro, Palisade, dec. Dave Campos, Broomfield, 1-0; 275 -- Brandon Borchardt, Broomfield, dec. Jordan Stricker, Golden, 4-3.