'Back-door' wrestlers played pivotal role

The story of Moffat County wrestling always involves the depth of the team. This year's regional tournament was no different. The Bulldogs qualified nine wrestlers for the state tournament.

At one point in the tournament, Montrose had 13 wrestlers still in the tournament compared with Moffat County's 10. The performances in the "back door" for the Bulldog wrestlers kept the points close enough for the wrestlers in the finals to get the win. The Bulldogs were 2-1 against Montrose wrestlers in the consolation bracket.

The Moffat wrestlers who weren't in the finals finished the tournament with a 13-7 record in the consolation bracket. The Bulldogs scored extra points for the team in 11 of the 13 wins: Nine wins were by pin, and one match was won by technical fall and a major decision respectively.

"Those guys' ability to pin kept us in it," Gutierrez said.

Montrose's ability to get into the championship and consolation championships kept them in the lead. Then their inability to win the matches for first (they were 1-4) and for third (they were 1-3) let the Bulldogs sneak back.

Junior Daniel Cramblett had the longest day for the Bulldogs. The 135-pounder came back from a quarterfinal loss with three straight pins.

In the third-place match, he trailed Montrose's Shawn Sanchez until the third period. Cramblett then turned Sanchez twice for the 11-5 win.

Sophomore Brice Boling recovered from being pinned after leading Montrose's Cutter Garrison in the semifinal. Boling pinned Golden's Brooke Sauer and won by technical fall against Rifle's Alex Avilla in the consolation final.

The surprise of the meet for Moffat County was sophomore Chris McAlexander.

The 125-pounder pinned Golden's Brandon Blair to move into the consolation final. He lost to Montezuma Cortez's Andrew Right and was challenged in a wrestle-back by Delta's Luke Weitzel.

McAlexander pinned Weitzel to secure a trip to state with a fourth-place finish.

"Chris hasn't had that great of a season," Gutierrez said. "But he had a big tournament when he was supposed to."

McAlexander will represent the sophomore class at state with Boling. Trenton Duarte finished sixth.

Not to be forgotten were the efforts of seniors Brent Chamberlain and Shayne Zimmerman. Chamberlain wrestled through injury and a challenging bracket (four wrestlers in the top eight) for fourth place.

Zimmerman continued to wrestle his opponents tough but without a winning result. Zimmerman was inches from near fall points at the end of the third period but instead went into overtime against eventual winter Anthony Laurita. Laurita prevailed in the extra period. Zimmerman lost in the consolation finals 11-6 to Eagle Valley's Brendan Best.

The first round of state will begin Thursday night at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

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