Korey Kostur had some extra baggage going into the state wrestling tournament last year. The Moffat County High School freshman had to don a knee brace to support damaged cartilage in his right knee in his first state meet. This year the only accessory the sophomore is thinking about is a medal.
Junior Scott Garoutte came on the varsity scene his sophomore year right before Christmas break when 215-pound wrestler Trevor Sloan moved up to heavyweights for the Warrior Classic. Garoutte stayed at 215 all year after the move and was the only underclassman to win more than one match in the senior-stacked weight class. He started the season ranked first and has held that ranking all year. He has no plans to relinquish that title now.
Together, the two highest ranked Bulldogs (Kostur is ranked third) know they need to go deep into the winners bracket for their team to have a chance for its fourth consectuctive
"Korey and Scott have gone from colts last year to thoroughbreds," coach Roman Gutierrez said. "They have matured a lot this year and we are counting on them for some big points."
Kostur's weight class of 135 pounds this year has had a lot of high profile guests. Chad Romero of Fort Morgan is a three-time state champion and he started the season at 135. He then moved down in January and has remained at 130. Adam City's Joey Deaguero is the returning state champ at 135 but after trying to get down to his title weight in January he moved back up to 140.
"I'm pretty confident about how it worked out," Kostur said. "I can't overlook anybody but it looks good."
Kostur's record of 34-2 includes only one loss to a Colorado wrestler. His setback came to Pueblo South's Mark Beaudry at the Warrior Classic.
"Korey was down by one against Beaudry and took a chance too early," Gutierrez said. "I think he has learned and can compete with him."
Beaudry (33-7), who took third at 125 last year, finished the season ranked first in the class and Fort Lupton's Corey Swanson finished second, but neither wrestler is on Kostur's side of the bracket.
Even though he's protected from the only wrestlers ranked higher than him until a possible final, the state meet won't be a walk in the park like the regional bracket that Kostur pinned through.
On Kostur's side of the bracket is Widefield senior J.T. Hudson (30-6) and 135 runner up from last year, Will Carron (32-5) of Berthoud.
"The first year you're at state you tend to overlook matches," Kostur said. "I've learned from that and I know you can't look past anybody."
Garoutte especially knows he needs to keep every match in the right perspective. In January he lost one of his two matches of the year by looking past Valley's Cameron Salazar and got stuck at the Dogfight Duals.
"I wasn't focused on him and was thinking about the final," the junior said. "I think I learned my lesson." Garoutte hasn't lost to a Class 4A opponent all year and while all six state placers graduated -- leaving the class wide open --Gutierrez said his junior's ranking isn't just a fluke.
"I think Scott is one of the top three wrestlers in all classes at 215," he said. "But he has to win his matches just like everybody else."
If the bracket seedings play out Garoutte will face Waylon Lolotai of Centaurus in the semifinals. Lolotai has been ranked second most of the season.
"I don't know much about some of the other ranked guys," he said. "I just have to go out there and do what I've been doing all year."
With a state race that has been predicted to be one of the closest in years, the two wrestlers who plan to be in the finals are aware that it may come down the them for a team title.
"I've thought about that a lot," Kostur said. "But I have to get there first."
Garoutte said he doesn't plan on letting the team race get in his head.
"It's not something I plan to think about," he said. "I have to go out there and do my job. If it helps win a team title then I've done my job and a little extra."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or email@example.com