The Craig Daily Press will cover Moffat County's wrestlers live from the Pepsi Center from Thursday through Saturday.
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With the state wrestling meet fast approaching, Moffat County’s qualifying wrestlers are in the final stages of preparation for their season finale.
All six Bulldogs competing in the 3A tournament beginning Thursday at the Pepsi Center have difficult matches early in their quests to be the state’s best, but they are looking forward to hitting the mats.
It starts in the 120-pound bracket with Issik Herod, who will take on Andrew Clark, of Bennett High School, in the first round. Both wrestlers have a 26-10 record. The winner of that match likely will take on junior Conrad Cole, of Brush, the second-seeded wrestler in the bracket with a 33-5 record.
“I want to try to do better than I’m expected to do by placing,” Herod said about his second trip to state. “I’ll need to upset at least one kid who was seeded higher than me. I just need to work the moves that I know well and do what I’m good at.”
Herod would have his hands full with Cole in the quarterfinal, but getting out of the first round will help his chances of placing.
Brett Loyd and Jesse DeMoor are in a similar position at 170 pounds and 182 pounds, respectively. Loyd will see Jacob Smith, of Strasburg (31-7), in the first round, while DeMoor will take on Sheridan sophomore Aaron Apadaca (24-7). With a win, Loyd would see No. 2 seed Monte Vista senior Simon Schaefer (34-6), and DeMoor likely would face top-seeded Donaciano Vurciaga (36-5), of Fort Lupton, in the quarterfinals.
While DeMoor’s regional third place will have him facing a top wrestler earlier than he would have planned, his hopes of winning the state championship likely eventually would have gone through Vurciaga.
“I was going to have to beat him anyway,” he said of the top seed. “This way I can try to get him out of the way early. I’ve got the mentality to do that.”
Loyd said he is nervous but excited for the opportunity. He wants to pick up a couple wins, he said, using “a lot of movement on my feet and just giving it all I’ve got.”
Stelios Peroulis and Brady Springer both are low seeds in their brackets. Peroulis starts against fourth-seeded James Richardson, of Centauri, who has a 21-7 record this year. Springer is up against Brush junior Jose Rodriguez, who has amassed a 22-4 record.
“I say let them think they’re better,” Peroulis said about his first-round match. “That’s fine, and I’ll go in and try to mess it up.”
Similar to his teammates, Springer wants to wrestle as hard as he can and see what happens. While he doesn’t expect anything, he hopes to do well.
“I’m ready to get wrestling and give it all I have,” he said. “State’s weird — anybody can get beat. I just want to go have fun and at least go .500.”
The state draw is difficult even for senior Brayden Peterson. He is seeded fourth in the 138-pound bracket after winning the region and will start against Platte Valley senior Austin Walters (25-10), who took fourth in the strongest 138-pound region and was ranked a spot ahead of Peterson for much of the year.
“Even my first match is tough,” Peterson said. “I need to wrestle like I did in the finals at regionals. I think if I can get past him, my quarterfinal opponent won’t be as strong.”
Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.