Heading into the first day of the 4A state wrestling tournament Thursday in Denver, coach Roman Gutierrez said there were expectations for his three athletes.
With four-time state qualifier Charlie Griffiths, a Moffat County High School senior, Gutierrez expected great things.
For fellow senior Cody Adams and sophomore Garrett Stewart, the coach said he knew it would be a tough first round.
“Realistically, we expected Charlie to win,” Gutierrez said. “For Cody and Garrett, we knew if they were going to win, they would have to scramble to do so.”
The first day came with mixed results as Griffiths pinned his opponent in the second period, and Adams and Stewart fell in the first.
“Cody had a tough draw with a runner-up from last year’s state meet,” Gutierrez said. “We didn’t know too much about Garrett’s opponent, but he won a regional tournament, so he had to have had a pretty good tourney the week before.”
Stewart started things off for the Bulldogs’ qualifiers, wrestling in the 135-pound weight class.
Gutierrez said Stewart would have an upperhand in his final two years after making the state tournament in only his second year of varsity wrestling.
“It is good to get state experience when you are young,” Gutierrez said. “Everyone has nerves at first, but now (Stewart) has that first match behind him, he will go out and be more calm and relaxed.”
Stewart said he wasn’t sure what went wrong in his first match.
“I don’t know if it was the nerves or just a tough match,” he said. “Next time I will just have to be ready with a plan and wrestle as best I can.”
While he acknowledges the competition is fierce, Stewart said being part of the tournament was “amazing.”
“Making it to state has always been a dream of mine,” he said. “It is like I am accomplishing a goal by being here.”
Stewart won his first-round consolation match Friday, pinning his opponent in 1:26.
In his second-round consolation match, however, Stewart lost, 10-1, and was eliminated from the tournament.
In the 4A western regional tournament Feb. 11 and 12, Gutierrez said Adams came out flat in his 189-pound weight class.
And, while Adams lost his first match Thursday, Gutierrez said he saw the old Adams on the mat.
“He came out aggressive, which is good,” he said. “He wasn’t cautious and I was glad to see that.”
Adams was also pinned in his first-round consolation match Friday, eliminating him from the tournament.
In Griffiths’ 152-pound first round match, he was able to turn his opponent on his back twice in the first period and finally stuck him 53 seconds into the second.
“I feel I wrestled pretty tough and did what I wanted in my first match,” Griffiths said.
Even in his fourth time at the tournament, Griffiths said nerves still played a factor.
“I was really nervous because I wanted to do my best and not lose a single match,” he said.
In Griffiths’ championship quarterfinal match, the senior stuck his opponent with 17 seconds left in the third period.
The semi-finals, however, didn’t treat Griffiths as well, as a first round takedown came back to haunt him in a 4-3 defeat.
“I was a down after the match, but I have to get back up,” Griffiths said. “I want to finish this tournament off and pin my next two opponents (on my way) to a third-place finish.”
The best Griffiths can do is place third and the worst he can do is sixth place.
Griffiths will wrestle his next match between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. today.
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