2nd day, 2nd chance: Moffat County wrestlers go out strong at Tournament of Champions
While some members of the Moffat County High School wrestling team had their better rounds Friday, getting back in the action Saturday offered redemption for some and still more experience for all.
MCHS placed 23rd among 31 varsity teams in the Uintah Tournament of Champions in Vernal, Utah.
After going 3-0 Friday, Daniel Caddy saw a familiar face Saturday in the 138-pound semifinals, paired up with Paonia’s Sackett Chesnik, whom he had previously defeated to gain third place in December’s Warrior Classic.
The rematch went to the Eagle rather than the Bulldog this time, as Caddy fought to the end only to take a defeat in a 9-3 decision.
Sent to the consolation rounds but guaranteed to place in the top eight, Caddy worked quickly to gain a first-period pin of Lander Valley’s Nathan Redman. In the consolation finals, he had his closest match of the weekend but outlasted another Wyoming opponent, Cameron Metcalf of Rock Springs, 6-5, to pick up third place.
MCHS coach Dusty Vaughn noted the back end of the brackets was no less tough with a state runner-up and two-time state champ against Caddy.
“As a coach that’s what you want to see. You didn’t get what you wanted so you go get the next best thing,” he said.
With a 2-1 day Friday, 160-pounder Greg Hixson was forced to forfeit Saturday due to a dislocated elbow. Dagan White went 2-2 Friday but wasn’t able to compete further due to his own war wound.
Vaughn said both of the Bulldogs may have to call it a season sooner than expected to recover.
“This is a huge hit to both Greg and Dagan, especially Greg. He’s a senior and has gone through so much to get where he’s at,” Vaughn said.
Though they had originally planned to attend Rangley’s Vern Rose Memorial during the weekend, MCHS’s junior varsity lineup tore through the first day of TOC, garnering first-place finishes in the JV segment for Caden Call (106), Ryan Duzik (120), and Coltyn Terry (132).
Duzik took five straight wins by pin to move to the top of the podium, finishing with the victory against Zach Weipert of Wyoming’s Green River, who had previously defeated Bulldog Colton Jones in the 120 weight class.
Call took two pins, a 16-0 technical fall, and a 10-4 decision leading up to a 7-2 win over Juab’s Jack Payne in the finals.
Terry gained two falls, both taken in less than one minute, as well as wins by decision of 7-5 and 5-0, the latter of which came against Waylon Martinez of Rock Springs for the title.
To add to the JV success, Pepper Rhyne (145) earned bronze honors with a 4-1 record for the day, complete with three pins. At 126, Blake Juergens took fourth with a 3-2 run.
Brock Hartung (138) didn’t place but had more wins than losses at 3-2, while Jones and Daniel Cruz (160) each fought hard despite two losses each.
Altogether, JV took fifth in the field.
“We thought the TOC would be better for match experience for our kids,” Vaughn said of the schedule change. “We have such a young team and some kids were able to get almost 10 matches in the two days.”
MCHS varsity and JV wrestlers were prominent in the Tournament of Champions Second Chance tourney, specifically for grapplers knocked out of varsity competition in the main event’s first day or JV athletes wanting to stay on the mat, with Hunter Fredrickson (106), Call, Duzik, and Kalub West (126) tearing through opponents with three straight wins each to finish Saturday strong.
Vaughn said the Second Chance was less about podium placement than keeping
“You just wrestled until you lost and our boys did a lot of winning,” Vaughn said. “We added up the total matches and noted this weekend, out of just under a total of 70 matches we pinned or tech-falled over 50 percent of the kids we wrestled. That’s outstanding!”
MCHS wrestlers will spend the coming weekend in Rifle, with a Jan. 18 dual match against the Bears, followed the next day by a dual tournament that will include Steamboat Springs, Basalt, Battle Mountain, Glenwood Springs, Coal Ridge and more from the Western Slope.
The TOC weekend was a stressful one for many with the news of the Montrose team’s bus accident near Rangely en route to Vernal. Though there were no injuries in the incident, Vaughn, a Montrose native, noted that he was very concerned upon hearing the details.
“I have friends I wrestled with in high school who were on that bus. People I grew up with in high school who have kids wrestling now were on that bus. I’m just grateful no one was hurt and everyone is OK,” he said.