Before the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships, Scott Garoutte's stepfather handed him a photo. Instead of being worth 1,000 words to Garoutte, it was worth one -- pin.
The picture was of him pinning Mountain View's Calvin Kliner at the Dogfight Duals in January. The significance was that Kliner was his opponent in the title match.
"They went through the bracket and predicted who I might face," Garoutte said. "They guessed it would be Mountain View and it just so happened that they had that picture."
After Garoutte received the picture, he put it in his pocket and went into one of the hallways in the Pepsi Center to focus.
"Every time I got nervous or scared I looked at the picture," he said. "It would calm me down."
Garoutte's pre-match butterflies were released one minute into the first period when he locked into a move called the "Mills" and put Kliner on his back. The Mills wasn't tight enough for a pin so Garoutte adjusted with a half nelson, grabbed a headlock and cinched it tight. As the Moffat crowd yelled, "squeeze," the referee ended the match with a slap to the mat.
"I think he was a lot more nervous than I was," Garoutte said. "Last year I came in and guys played with me. This year I was the one in charge mentally."
Garoutte jumped up after the pin and spread his arms wide, and elevated his head toward the roof. After he had his hand raised and hugged his coaches, he ran over to his family in the stands, forgetting he needed to sign his bout sheet.
"I guess I was pretty excited," he said. "My family was one of the fist things I thought about."
Garoutte was ranked first by On the Mat Rankings all season. The pressure was on him not to make a mistake, and except for some tiring in his semifinal match, he didn't make many.
"I was one match from pinning my way through the state tournament," he said. "The championship might not have been my toughest match of the year, but it was my biggest."
He finished the season 40-2.
"Undefeated is my goal next year," he said. "I'm not going to wrestle in college so an undefeated season could be the best thing to go out with."
Garoutte hopes to play college football.
One thing that Garoutte will have to contend with is a tougher bracket next year. Three of the four top placers will return. A situation from this year when all six state placers in the 215 bracket graduated. Garoutte was only one of two returning state qualifiers this year.
"People might say that my class was weak," he said. "But I came to win a state championship and that's all I care about."
An opponent Garoutte would have liked to face this year is Meeker's Lee Overton. Many said Overton was the best 215-pound wrestler in all classes. But Garoutte, who wrestles for a 4A school and Overton, who wrestles for a 2A school, couldn't meet in the state tournament. Garoutte's two losses came to opponents who moved on to lose to Overton during the regular season.
"He's a great wrestler," Garoutte said, seconds before Overton won his state title match. "It just never worked out for us to meet."
Moffat County has only had two, two-time champions in its history. Garoutte could make it three.
"That would be a big feat considering how good of a program we've had," he said. "I'm not going to wrestle after high school so this will be my time to relish it."