DENVER -- The final round of wrestle-backs the Class 4A team state championship was won in typical Moffat County fashion with last second upsets, crucial head-to-head wins and team depth.
Except it wasn't Moffat County doing the winning.
"Pueblo South went through and had a nearly flawless tournament," Moffat County coach Roman Gutierrez said. "Their title was well deserved."
Going into Saturday the Bulldogs were behind Pueblo South 79.5 to 75.5 points. The Colts had eight wrestlers left in the tournament and the Bulldogs had six. Each team had two wrestlers in title matches, so the Colts still had a two-wrestler advantage in the consolation bracket.
Each team won its three matches in the first round. Moffat County gained four points on the Colts with bonuses for two major decisions and a technical fall. Deric Dill's win may have been the biggest for the Bulldogs as he dominated Broomfield's Brad Neitenbach, 9-1. Dill was pinned by Neitenbach at the regional tournament. Korey Kostur and Brent Chamberlain also won their matches with a 13-2 major decision and a pin, respectively.
Kaleb Brown joined the Bulldog in the next round to see if they could keep the momentum rolling. While Moffat County was waiting for its matches, things were starting to look good for the Bulldogs. South wrestlers were losing in three matches simultaneously. But two of the Colts came back to win, including 103-pounder Victor Sanchez, who was trailing 9-5 with 12 seconds left and reversed his opponent for a pin.
Then came the nail in the coffin.
Kostur locked up with Pueblo South's Mark Beaudry and the two sophomores wrestled to a 9-9 tie in the second period. Beaudry would be the only one to score the rest of the match, earning a 14-9 victory and sealing a victory for the Colts.
"I wasn't in good enough shape," said Kostur, who went on to finish fifth. "I have to work on my stamina next year if I want to compete against him."
In that round, Chamberlain and Dill also lost their matches. Brown, the bright spot for Moffat County in the consolation semifinals, pinned his opponent and went on to win the third-place medal.
"I wanted to be in the championship but I thought I wrestled pretty well to get third," he said. "It was a lot better than last year."
Brown came into state last year with four losses but was unable to get into the medal round. This year his seven losses didn't look as good on paper, but his wrestling was better.
"Kaleb wrestled sick and didn't complain at all," Gutierrez said. "He just couldn't get past (Fort Morgan's Travis) Kroskob in the semifinals to be where he wanted."
When the consolation rounds were over, South had five placers and a 15-point lead. The Bulldogs' four placers (Dill was sixth and Chamberlain fifth) weren't enough. But if South's two finalists lost and Moffat's two finalists won with pins, the tournament would end in a tie.
That title was locked up for South in the first match for either team in the finals. Moffat County's Jesse Brookshire wrestled in one of the the second-most anticipated matches of the tournament. Fort Morgan's Chad Romero was going for his fourth state title. He proved he was worth every bit of the hype with a 16-1 win.
"I've only wrestled one guy who was as good at the tilt as Romero was," Brookshire said. "He's an awesome wrestler and I'll remember my match against him the rest of my life."
Brookshire and Brown were probably the overachievers of the tournament for the Bulldogs. Brookshire came into his first state tournament and didn't look like a rookie.
"I hope it showed the underclassman that anything is possible," he said. "I was mentally focused and did what nobody expected."
Scott Garoutte won the Bulldogs' only state title with a pin of Mountain View's Calvin Kliner in 1:18. The win brought the Bulldogs to within six points, but Pueblo South's Tano Miell won his title match to get the difference back to 10 points, 121.5 to 111.5.
The talk all year about the Bulldogs focused on how they were down, and with a fifth-place ranking going into the tournament, only they felt they had a chance to get their fourth title.
"We came in with probably the fifth or sixth best team and still finished second," Gutierrez said. "I hope the guys aren't too disappointed in that, but I hope the underclassmen aren't satisfied."
Brown would have liked to hoist another state title, but there didn't seem to be too much dissapointment.
"Considering what we had coming in as a team it was impressive for us to get second," he said.
But if there was ever a year to have a "down year" and still win a team title, it would have been 2004. No team in title contention had more than one individual champion.
South will be the team to beat next year with only one of their state placers graduating. South is also planning to gain another state champion as 152-pound titlist Nick Padilla has talked about transferring from Pueblo West to South.
"We have some work to do in the summer if we want to compete next year," Gutierrez said. "We have the kids, we just need the effort."
4A state champions
103 -- Taylor Gallegos, Montrose, Jr. (35-6)
112 -- Tony Mustari, Greeley Central, Jr. (43-0)
119 -- Derek Brewer, Delta, Sr. (34-2)
125 -- Markus Portillos, Pueblo East, Sr. (37-2)
130 -- Chad Romero, Ft. Morgan, Sr. (41-1)
135 -- Corey Swanson, Ft. Lupton, Jr. (36-6)
140 -- Joey Deaguerro, Adams City, Jr. (42-0)
145 -- Mike Gallegos, Alamosa, Jr. (33-3)
152 -- Nick Padilla, Pueblo West, Jr. (43-2)
160 -- Craig Maurello, Pueblo West, Sr. (35-4)
171 -- Tano Miell, Pueblo South, Sr. (40-7)
189 -- Jesse Feinsod, Cheyenne Mountain, Jr. (31-3)
215 -- Scott Garoutte, Moffat County, Jr. (40-2)
275 -- Aaron Phillips, Greeley West, Sr. (44-2)