“I wanted to ride out the match, but I also wanted a fair match, so I tried not to stall too much. I had to do what I had to do to win.”
— Garrett Stewart, a Moffat County High School junior, on scoring his first victory at the 4A state wrestling meet Friday in Denver
Qualifying for the state wrestling tournament is an achievement in itself, but Garrett Stewart wasn’t satisfied with just being a qualifier.
Stewart, a Moffat County High School junior, said his goal was to place in his second year at the tournament.
But, following a 14-8 loss in the second round of the 138-pound consolation bracket Friday, Stewart walked off the mat without achieving his goal, having been eliminated after going 1-2 overall in Denver.
“I wrestled a lot better (Friday) than I did the first day because I didn’t wrestle well on my feet (Thursday),” Stewart said. “But, there is always room for improvement and I just couldn’t get it done.”
Stewart, who went 28-17 on the season, fell in the first round Thursday via pin, but bounced back in the first round of the consolation bracket Friday with a 10-8 victory over Elizabeth junior Dylan Bergett.
Stewart and Bergett felt each other out in the first round, with neither scoring a point.
But, Bergett (24-11) took advantage of Stewart hanging his head over his shoulder to start the second period to take a 2-0 lead off a reversal.
As Stewart tried to escape, Bergett went for a slam, but Stewart reversed and scored a 2-point nearfall to take a 4-2 lead and an eventual 8-4 lead after the second.
“(Bergett) was a tough kid, so I had to try my best to stay with him or fall behind,” Stewart said. “I had to keep hand control and try my best for an escape. It was win or go home, so I gave it everything I had.”
In the third period, Bergett pulled within two at 10-8, but couldn’t turn Stewart at the end of the match.
“I wanted to ride out the match, but I also wanted a fair match, so I tried not to stall too much,” Stewart said. “I had to do what I had to do to win.”
Stewart faced Golden junior Paris Salas in the second round of the consolation bracket later Friday.
Salas (36-6) started out with a quick shot to take a 5-0 lead with a nearfall.
However, Stewart got an escape and a takedown of his own to end the first.
Salas started the second period on bottom and got an escape followed by a takedown and a 3-point nearfall to jump out to an 11-3 lead.
Stewart said Salas was tough and it was a case of fighting from behind.
“It was tough to keep up with (Salas) and I was playing catch up,” he said. “I tried a lot of things to try and score, but I just couldn’t get anything I wanted at the end of the match.”
Stewart pulled within six points at 14-8, but a cradle attempt fell flat at the end of the match to give Salas the win.
Winning a match at state felt great, Stewart said, but he isn’t satisfied with winning only one match.
Stewart will be a two-time state qualifier heading into his final season and next year he will have the same goal as this season — placing at state.
“I am going to work out a lot in the summer with some different coaches and really concentrate on strengthening my conditioning and getting my quickness up,” Stewart said. “Anything but going back to state would be a huge disappointment.”
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