I’ve been at the state wrestling tournament the past couple of days following the action of Moffat and Routt County athletes. It has made for a hectic weekend, covering 12 wrestlers in the first session of the tournament, between Moffat, Hayden and Soroco.
But it’s tough to complain about that, because being here is a lot of fun. The energy in the Pepsi Center with 10 matches happening at once can’t be beaten, especially when a group of fans starts going berserk for the wrestler they’re supporting.
Unfortunately, the results haven’t gone in Moffat County’s favor the way the wrestlers or coaches would’ve hoped. After Day 1, just one Bulldog still was wrestling on the front side of the bracket. After Friday’s wrestling, just one still is in the tournament at all.
That’s Jesse DeMoor, who lost in the quarterfinals on a really tough decision by the referee. DeMoor was behind by 10 points to the top seed in his bracket but caught Donaciano Vurciaga and laid on top of him for a while, with the official deciding both shoulders weren’t on the mat, keeping DeMoor from scoring a come-from-behind pin.
Moffat County’s senior was downtrodden after that loss, simply telling me he needed to “just forget about it.”
But that might be the best part of the state tournament: how it mirrors wrestling as a sport. After avoiding a pin in his first-round match, Steamboat Springs senior Brandon Yeager told me that wrestling is about choosing to give up or keep fighting when you’re on your back.
So goes the state tournament, where a loss isn’t the end of the road. A wrestler with high aspirations at state can choose to pout after losing, or they can come back with fire and keep wrestling, with high positions on the line.
That’s what DeMoor, and all the Bulldogs, did Friday. DeMoor came back and earned a hard-fought pin. Issik Herod, Brayden Peterson and Stelios Peroulis all got good wins in their first consolation matches.
Unfortunately, each of those three ran into wrestlers thinking the same thing in the second round of consolation. Sometimes that’s the way it goes at the state tournament. But not one of them stopped fighting. Peroulis battled until he nearly fainted on the mat, he wanted to win so bad.
If that’s not an athlete’s attitude to be proud of, I don’t know what is.
Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.