At the biggest stage for middle school wrestling in Colorado, Craig grapplers showed they were among the best.
At the large Rocky Mountain Nationals Middle School State wrestling meet, five wrestlers from Craig left their marks, with one walking away from his middle school wrestling days a champion.
Mikinzie Klimper, an eighth-grader who’s been involved with youth wrestling since he was physically capable, saw the years of work pay off Saturday with a state championship in the 145-pound bracket. A year after he made it to RMN but didn’t place, he stood atop the podium.
Craig wrestlers' records
Dagan White 70-lbs. 2-2
Daniel Caddy 75-lbs. 5-2
Drew Rothermund 95-lbs. 2-2
Drake Zimmerman 130-lbs. 3-2
Mikinzie Klimper 145-lbs. 4-0
“I was excited,” Klimper said about winning it all, though he kept his celebration to a minimum until he got off the mat. “It was cool to win.”
Klimper entered the tournament as the third seed and went 4-0, going to full time just once, in his semifinal match.
He won by fall and tech fall in the round of 16 and quarterfinals, respectively, before facing off against No. 2 seed Xavier Herrera in the semifinal.
“That was the toughest match I had,” Klimper said. “It was 5-5 after a period. I just worked all the basic moves I know.”
After that period, Klimper pulled away to win 17-11 and earn a spot in the championship. Once there, Klimper quickly put his opponent into a cradle and pinned him to win the title.
Klimper attributed his rapid rise from last year’s tournament to a more significant workout regimen this year.
“It was basically all conditioning and working out,” he said, giving credit to the many coaches he’s had. “I need to thank all my coaches throughout the years. They’ve always been there to help me.”
Klimper’s father, Rodney, also praised the work of coaches, especially in recent years as Miki has been bigger.
“Dennis Frederickson has been working with the Bad Dogs the past couple years and he’s taken a lot of extra time to work with Miki,” Rodney said. “Coach (Mark) Voloshin has done the same thing. That’s made a big difference for him. And it’s not just him they’re helping.”
Klimper wasn’t the only Craig wrestler to have success at state. All five Craig wrestlers won at least two matches, and CMS sixth-grader Daniel Caddy, who wrestles with the Bad Dogs, made the most of his first chance, placing fourth.
Caddy came up big in the clutch on multiple occasions to keep his tournament run alive among the 37 wrestlers competing at 75 pounds. After an 8-4 decision in his first match, Caddy got a takedown in overtime for a 5-3 sudden victory and advanced to the quarterfinals. He lost there, 3-2, to the eventual runner-up of the tournament but came back strong in the consolation bracket.
There, Caddy picked up a 4-2 decision and another overtime win, 4-2, to move into the third place match.
He lost out on third place, 9-2, but after taking fourth in the regional tournament a week before, he battled impressively to take fourth in the state.
Three other Craig wrestlers missed out on placing. In a stacked 130-pound bracket, Drake Zimmerman made it to the round of 16 before losing to the state runner-up. He won twice in consolations and was one match away from a top-eight finish, but lost a minor decision, 8-5.
Drew Rothermund wrestled at 95 pounds. and lost his first match but came back to win twice in the consolation bracket before his run came to an end in the third round. Dagan White, another sixth-grade student from CMS, won his round of 64 match by tech fall, then lost. He picked up a pin in the consolations but also lost in the third round.
Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@CraigDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.