At a glance ...
Craig Middle School eighth-grader Shandon Hadley placed third in the 125-pound weight class of the state wrestling tournament Friday and Saturday at the Denver Coliseum. 17 wrestlers CMS wrestlers qualified for the tournament and 11 participated, with Hadley the only representative of the school to place.
Streaks of brightness cut through the dark of the Denver Coliseum on Saturday, as a laser light show acknowledged the best middle school wrestlers in the state during an awards ceremony known as the Parade of Champions.
Among the honored was Craig Middle School eighth-grader Shandon Hadley, who placed third overall in the 125-pound weight class of the state wrestling tournament held Friday and in Denver, making him the highest finishing wrestler of the season for CMS.
Undefeated for the regular season and a first-place finisher at regionals, Shandon took on contenders from all around Colorado, including 5A schools, fighting through to the end until he was finally pinned.
“It was just such an honor even to get third,” he said. “I really worked hard for it, and it was awesome to be in the Parade of Champions and make it that far.”
Out of the 17 CMS wrestlers who qualified at the regional tournament in Fruita, 11 traveled to state. Shandon was the only CMS wrestler to place for the final round.
His father, Shane, a coach for the team, said the group was at its highest level against considerable competition.
“Most of them who lost got beaten by the kid who went on to be one of the champions, so they were taking on the best,” Shane said. “These kids all did great, and I was telling them they’re not going to be seeing these kids from 5A schools again, so that will give them an advantage once they get to high school.”
Shane took particular pride in Shandon’s showing at the tournament. A wrestler himself in high school, he came close to the Parade of Champions but didn’t quite make it.
“I’m not one of those guys who tries to live through his son, but I’m just so glad I could share that with him,” Shane said. “I’m also really glad my dad was there to see it.”
Shane’s father, Frank, was in the crowd supporting his grandson despite fighting his own battle with cancer.
“What’s really amazing is he had just gone through chemo on Thursday and he still made it down there for that,” Shane said. “I was just so glad he could still be around to see it.”
Shandon said having his whole family in the crowd made the whole tournament more special, especially considering the wrestling bond he has his father, who also coached him in the Bad Dogs Wrestling program.
“He’s always been there with me helping me get through everything, and it’s great having him as a dad,” he said.
Shandon said he plans to stick to a conditioning regimen for the coming months for high school athletics. His training includes weightlifting, running and playing football to stay in shape.
“I want to stay committed,” he said.
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