Moffat County wrestlers learn from experience as Bulldogs move to state consolation rounds
A solid start to the 3A CHSAA State Championships Thursday flipped around in circumstances for the beginning of the second day at the Pepsi Center for Moffat County High School wrestling.
MCHS grapplers all found themselves knocked out of championship consideration during the quarterfinals Friday morning, with all five state-qualifying Bulldogs working through the consolation rounds.
At 106 pounds, Kaden Hixson lost by a 10-6 decision against Javan Valdez of Valley, while both Caden Call (113) and Daniel Caddy (152) couldn’t keep up in points in defeats by major decision to Jefferson opponents — Call, 18-6 to Angelo Lozado and Caddy 14-3 versus Nick Gallegos.
At 120, Anthony Duran squared off with the No. 1 contender in his weight, Brady Hankin of Woodland Park, who earned a pin against Duran in the second period.
“They went out there and fought. We had a lot of tough matchups that were 50-50, could have gone either way,” said MCHS head coach Tyler Seislove. “It didn’t go our way, but we’ll come back and fight through the consolation brackets. We’ll still hopefully place at state.”
The second wave of Bulldog matches wasn’t all bad. Despite a loss in Thursday’s opener, Pepper Rhyne pummeled his first Friday foe, Donovan Vigil of Pueblo Central, in the 160 bracket.
“It was a good match. I had some goals in mind I’ve been working for, so I thought about those, placing on the podium. I just thought about that and stayed aggressive in my match,” Rhyne said, adding his first loss served a purpose in teaching him to be better.
With a dominating lead, Rhyne got a final two points for a near-fall late in the match, making his win a technical fall at a total of 18-2, knowing that the last move could make all the difference.
“You always want to score as many points and get the pin, that way we can get as many team points as possible. We’d like to, as a team, place in the top 10. It adds up in the end if you get an extra two points for a pin or for a technical,” Seislove said.
Seislove credited Rhyne as one of the hardest-working members of the Bulldog roster.
“It says everything,” Seislove said of Rhyne’s recovery in the consolation round. “It exemplifies who he is as a person and how he wrestles.”
Rhyne’s state run came to a close later in the day, when he faced Jefferson’s Alberto Zelaya. Despite an early takedown by Rhyne that had him leading 2-1 in the first period, Zelaya racked up points in the second with his own takedown and a near-pin.
Rhyne was able to pick up points via escape three times, but he took the loss at 9-5.
The rest of the MoCo bunch fared better in the consolations.
Hixson kept it close but gained the points he needed with a third period reversal to walk off the mat the victor in a 7-6 bout with Platte Valley’s Nicholas Dill, the 40th win for the freshman Bulldog.
Call had little trouble in his third match, holding a 6-0 lead over The Classical Academy’s Zach Courtright before ending with the pin.
Duran nearly got himself in trouble against Bennett’s Carson Hawkins as the Moffat County kid led 4-0 heading into the last minutes. A takedown by Hawkins led to Duran being warned for stalling, and though Hawkins threw him to the mat twice more, Duran escaped again and again to win 7-6.
MCHS senior Caddy responded to missing a state title with an overwhelmingly one-sided performance in the consolations.
Eaton’s Ryder True had no chance against the oldest Bulldog there as Caddy earned two takedowns, four near-falls and an escape to earn the 17-0 tech fall.
Caddy said that while he knew a pin would be better for the team standings, he couldn’t quite finish the job in the last second, gaining the tech instead with the final near-fall.
After facing consolation rounds each of the last three years — last season finishing fourth in the 138 class — Caddy knows the remainder of the tournament will be tense.
“You mess up once out there and you’re done and that’s your last time wrestling this year,” he said.
Even so, he has a positive mindset to trust in his talents.
“Go out there, do my stuff, do it fast, do it hard and don’t make a mistake,” he said.
Craig Press will have further updates on the state tournament.
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