“(Donkle) was really, really aggressive and hacked on (Stewart’s) neck a little to wear him down. More or less, he controlled the match and we tried to get in a carry, but Garrett had some technical problems getting in control.”
— Roman Gutierrez, Moffat County High School varsity wrestling coach, about MCHS junior Garrett Stewart’s struggles Thursday in the first round of the 4A state tournament in Denver.
Garrett Stewart went into Thursday’s first round of the 4A state wrestling tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver as the underdog.
Stewart, a Moffat County High School junior, was matched up against the No. 2 seed in the 138-pound bracket, Josh Donkle of Windsor.
Donkle took control of the match early and wrestled Stewart like he knew he had the win, letting Stewart escape without resistance after almost every takedown.
Despite trying time and again to get a takedown, Stewart couldn’t overcome the stronger Donkle, as the Windsor senior scored a pin with 12 seconds remaining in the second period.
“I didn’t wrestle very good,” Stewart said. “He had strength and he was quick on his feet. I was in a lot of awkward positions and I just had to try and scramble out of it.”
Donkle (42-5) gave up four escapes to Stewart in the first round, but still led, 10-4, heading into the second.
Stewart (27-16) started the second period on top and thwarted Donkle’s early attempts for an escape, but the Windsor grappler’s strength again was the difference, as he got back to his feet 30 seconds into the period.
Stewart got two more escapes before finally being turned to his back.
“When he would take me down and let me escape, I had to be tough and try and show him I wasn’t there to fool around,” Stewart said. “He was the No. 2 seed, but I didn’t think about that because you have to beat the best to be the best. I just couldn’t get anything going.”
Roman Gutierrez, the MCHS varsity wrestling team’s head coach, said Donkle was just more aggressive on his feet.
“(Donkle) was really, really aggressive and hacked on (Stewart’s) neck a little to wear him down,” he said. “More or less, he controlled the match and we tried to get in a carry, but Garrett had some technical problems getting in control.”
Stewart, the Bulldogs lone wrestler to advance to the state tournament, said when going against a stronger opponent, the key is to try and catch him off guard.
At some point, Gutierrez said Stewart just had to go for it.
“Garrett didn’t control the match at all and he wasn’t able to get a good shot in,” he said. “But, you have to get a takedown, so you just have to shoot because the worse thing that can happen is he takes you down anyway.”
Stewart drops down to the consolation bracket in his weight class to wrestle Elizabeth High School junior Dylan Bergett, who lost 5-3 in the first round to Pueblo South senior Geno Long.
The first round of consolation matches will begin around 2:30 p.m. today.
In a win-or-go-home situation, Stewart said he is going to leave it all on the mat against Bergett.
“It is a do or die situation, so I have nothing to lose,” he said. “I am going to try and get an advantage early and keep it by wrestling my type of match and not my opponent’s.”
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