After blowing out his knee during summer football camp, Hayden’s Ryan Domson defied odds and expectations to return in time to take fourth place at the state wrestling tournament.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

After blowing out his knee during summer football camp, Hayden’s Ryan Domson defied odds and expectations to return in time to take fourth place at the state wrestling tournament.

Comeback Player of the Year: Hayden's Ryan Domson

In the end, it wasn’t the perfect fairy tale.

It’d be like the Indians placing second in “Major League,” Hickory putting forth a noble but doomed effort in “Hoosiers” or the Americans coming up short after putting a mighty scare into the Russians in the Miracle on Ice.

Ryan Domson’s return from a devastating offseason knee injury wasn’t the stuff of movies or sporting legend. He ended up finishing fourth in the 182-pound division at the Class 2A state wrestling tournament in February.

The Hayden High School senior’s journey might not have been made for Hollywood, but it still dropped plenty of jaws across the Yampa Valley.

For a dramatic recovery from a knee injury, Domson is the Yampa Valley Comeback Athlete of the Year.

Domson blew out his knee on the first offensive play of a summer football camp in Hayden, one horrible moment that initially seemed to end his senior season before it started.

The injury did cost him his final chance on the football field. Although he showed up for every practice and spent the games screaming from the sideline, the team’s loudest cheerleader, Domson didn’t suit up for the Tigers’ run to the state quarterfinals in football.

As he worked through the recovery process, Domson began to get the wild idea that he might be able to get back into action before the end of the wrestling season.

The crazy thing about it was that he could have achieved an amazing recovery, shaving an eye-popping amount of time off his expected recovery and still fallen well short of the time he needed in order to get back to wrestling.

The long odds didn’t stop him. They helped fuel him.

At first, it didn’t appear Domson had lost a step. He cruised through his bracket at the regional championships and, in the finals, bested the state’s No. 2 wrestler.

Even at state, things initially looked easy.

He won his first match quickly, notching a first-round pin.

He won in the quarterfinals, as well, but it all caught up to him in the semifinal.

A 12-5 loss in the semis cast Domson to the consolation bracket. He managed one final big win there, beating a rival from Paonia to advance to the third-place match but lost again to finish fourth.

“I’m a little let down, but there’s not much I can do about it,” he said at the time. “I’m appreciative of the opportunity.”

Even though he fell short of the championship of which he’d dreamed, it was immediately obvious that even though it lasted only a few weeks, Domson’s senior wrestling season was something special.

“The footwork and just being comfortable out there, that wasn’t there. That stuff usually comes during the season, but he didn’t have time to get there this year,” Hayden coach Chad Jones said at state. “Ryan can’t be ashamed. There’s no way he could have given anything more.”

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