Keep the legacy going: Moffat County wrestling places 5 at regionals, Bulldogs sending 4 to state
MONTROSE — Paternal influences played a part in the final day of the 3A Region 1 Tournament for Moffat County High School wrestlers, but as much as Bulldogs may have been working to carry on family tradition, getting to the upper echelon of the sport was something they were ultimately earning for themselves.
MCHS placed sixth among 14 teams at the two-day regional event, a tourney that brought with it four state qualifiers: one individual champion, a runner-up, and two freshmen who finished in third place to head to the next level.
Go for the gold
Out of the nine Moffat County grapplers to hit the mat during the weekend, none had a better run than Daniel Caddy, who claimed his first regional championship in the 138-pound class, gaining the honor with a 7-0 decision against Alamosa’s Tyler Kenison.
At 35-6 — now 38-7 — Kenison was the top seed in the 138 bracket, though as the No. 2 in the weight, Caddy had the better record at 39-4 to start the tourney, racking up two pins Friday and a 17-2 technical fall in the Saturday morning semifinals before his final victory to move to 43 wins this season.
A particular point of pride was giving up no points in the bout.
“It came together really good, even though he knows our style really well,” Caddy said, adding that having his father, Jarrett, present was important to him.
Last season saw Caddy get pinned at the penultimate second in the finals to place second in the same weight, which was still good enough to get him to state. The upcoming journey to Denver’s Pepsi Center will be the third in a row for the Bulldog junior.
“Getting to place at state, that’s the goal,” he said.
The win over Alamosa was especially significant given that the Mean Moose finished as the top 3A team.
Besides the tourney site of Montrose being his hometown, MCHS head coach Dusty Vaughn had something of a homecoming, since he also worked on the coaching staff for Alamosa, and though none of the current athletes were familiar, the coaches were.
“I’ve had a lot of family and friends come up and say hi, and when were eating at Denny’s, I saw so many people I knew. It was pretty special,” he said.
Stay strong with silver
Dagan White knew from the onset who he was most likely to see in the last round of the 120 brackets.
A defending state champion, Grand Valley’s AJ Serna moved to 19-1 with a 5-1 decision over White, who had more in common with the Cardinal than just their weight.
The two might have been paired together earlier this season during a dual meet in Parachute, though both were recovering from injuries.
“I was hurt and so was he, so I didn’t get a chance to see him then,” White said, adding he was trying to take advantage of Serna nursing his arm without much success.
Although White gained a crucial escape during the match, he couldn’t find a good opportunity against Serna, who showed few signs that he had missed much of the schedule while on the mend.
“That kid from Grand Valley is still a favorite for state this year, obviously a very, very good wrestler,” Vaughn said. “From my perspective, Dagan only lost to him by four points. He gave up a sloppy takedown, but that we can fix. He wasn’t far out of his league, and that’s given Dagan a lot of confidence to move forward and do better.”
Like fellow junior Caddy, White rose up a placement level compared to last year, in which he gained third in the region’s 106 class during a season in which he also spent a lot of time recovering from a wound.
“I feel really good after this one, really energized,” said White, who heads into state with a 24-10 record.
Big bad bronze
Nearly half the athletes on the Bulldogs’ regional roster are in their first year at MCHS, and two of them will add “freshman state qualifier” to their résumé.
Both Hunter Fredrickson (106) and Anthony Duran (113) moved into the semifinals Friday night, and both saw some struggles at that point.
Fredrickson was pinned by Gunnison’s Jared Van Hee, while Duran went scoreless in a 7-0 loss to Erik Wyman of Pagosa Springs.
Both Van Hee and Wyman would go on to defeats to Alamosa competitors in the finals, while the two Bulldogs had better follow-ups.
Fredrickson faced off with Pagosa’s Trevor Torrez in a match that got physical right away in the Pirate’s favor. Fredrickson took a shot, which Torrez deflected and the MoCo kid went off the mat, his arm aching.
“He had my arm in a weird position and kind of pushed into it when I pushed out,” Fredrickson said.
Still, a small amount of pain wasn’t about to make him quit, and he outlasted Torrez 8-6.
“I was trying not to lose points for stalling and just got that last takedown when I needed it,” he said.
Duran, 23-8, didn’t need three periods to make some noise, claiming the bronze with a forceful fall against Jayven Valdez of Montezuma-Cortez at the 33-second mark.
Duran said he was keeping his dad, Cody, in mind during the last match, hoping to not only keep up with his father’s high school career but possibly outdo it.
“I was just trying to beat my dad as a freshman. He never made it to state as a freshman,” Duran grinned.
Fredrickson, 37-11, had similar thoughts with proud pop Anton on the MCHS coaching staff.
“Coming back into it today, I was kind of down and discouraged, and I just refocused so I could come back and make it to state, get a medal,” Hunter said. “My dad made it to state all four years, and I want to do that, too.”
Between a Bear and a hard place
Things were going Isiaih Herod’s way Friday night with one win by pin a narrow 10-9 decision.
The Moffat senior had a harder trek Saturday, falling in the third period of the 132 semis to Pagosa’s James Thomas.
He then took a one-point loss to Olathe’s Elias Ramirez at 8-7 in the consolation semifinals, though the day wasn’t done yet.
Making it that far allowed Herod to keep his state hopes alive in a route similar to the previous season, in which he gained fourth place through wrestle-backs.
Paired with Cauy Smith for the fifth-place match — the winner of which would move on to challenge for the No. 4 slot — Herod was ready to rumble.
But, so was Smith.
While it looked like Herod would gain a late rally against the Rifle Bear, who got the win at 6-3, as Herod placed sixth to end his final high school season 30-14.
Ultimately, the bout was for naught for its victor. Smith was stuck in fifth place, just short of state, with an earlier loss to Glenwood Springs’ Mathew Flores guaranteeing that Smith could not compete against him again.
Had he beaten Smith, Herod would have gotten the opposite ruling and fourth place, since he already defeated Flores in the championship semis.
“That was a tough one for the coaches to watch, especially since he’s a senior,” Vaughn said. “I had a soft spot in my heart for him to get on the podium on state. He had a lot of tough guys at that weight.”
In contrast to last season, in which all 12 attending athletes placed at regionals and 11 moved on to state, the weekend held ups and downs for the Bulldogs this year.
After going 1-1 Friday, freshman Ryan Duzik (126) was out of the running after a pin Saturday morning by Bayfield’s Dylan Pickering.
Sophomores Brock Hartung (152) and Daniel Cruz (160) also put up a fight in the second day after each going 0-1 to start.
Hartung had a 10-2 major decision defeat to Bayfield’s Kobe Prior, while Cruz was promptly pinned by Steamboat Springs’ Ivan Reynolds.
Duzik finished the year 19-7, Hartung 11-16, and Cruz 12-16. At 145, Pepper Rhyne took two Friday losses to end the season 8-13.
With much of the team still on the green side, building a foundation is still key, Vaughn said.
“I’m really proud of all the effort the guys put in this weekend, that’s all we can ask,” Vaughn said. “They listened to coaches, did the best they could and wrestled hard. We’ve built a team, and I’m really happy about that, because we’ve had to break a lot of eggs to get to this point. I want to see these guys accomplish their goals, because we’ve put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears and a lot of hours to get to state and make some great, lasting memories.”
The 3A CHSAA State Championships run from Feb. 21 to 23 with brackets announced online Sunday afternoon at chsaanow.com.