Moffat County wrestling crowns two regional champs, sending 11 to state |

Moffat County wrestling crowns two regional champs, sending 11 to state

If there’s such an expression as “11th heaven,” Moffat County High School wrestlers must be feeling it right now.

MCHS finished second as a team Saturday at the 3A Region 3 Tournament in Englewood, complete with all 12 athletes placing in the tourney, 11 of them qualifying for the state championships and two of the Bulldogs earning regional titles.

At the top of their game — First place

Wrestler, weight, wins at 3A Region 3 Tournament; tourney record, season record

• Miki Klimper, 170, one pin, one technical fall, one major decision; 3-0, 37-3

• Elias Peroulis, 182, four pins; 4-0, 36-5

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Miki Klimper and Elias Peroulis went undefeated in the 170- and 182-pound brackets to finish first individually and claim regional titles.

Klimper, a regional champ for the second consecutive year, went into the event as the top-ranked grappler in the 3A 170 division and had little trouble with his three opponents, taking a Friday fall over Faith Christian’s Jonathan Waller, followed by a 17-0 technical fall against Mullen’s Sebastian Campos to progress to the finals.

Klimper went another match without giving up a point in competition in Saturday showdown with Abe Leonard of Elizabeth, ending with the 11-0 major decision.

While Klimper’s class only consisted of eight competitors, Peroulis was one among 12 vying for the title at 182. As a runner-up last season, the Bulldog was all the more determined to win and added 30 points to the Moffat County team tally, more than any other clad in a blue singlet.

Peroulis’s wins all came by pin, starting with a 24-second match against Englewood’s Ricardo Chinas, with neither of his falls against Elizabeth’s Cole Morse and Faith Christian’s London Spivey lasting longer than the first period. The clock went a little further in his championship bout against Lamar’s Lucas Tinnes, but came sure enough to earn him his title.

“Elias probably had the toughest weight at regionals, but he made it look easy,” Fredrickson said.

Fight to the finish — Second place

• Chris Moschetti, 132, one forfeit, one decision; 2-1, 26-6

• Daniel Caddy, 138, one pin, one major decision; 2-1, 33-9

• Drake Zimmerman, 152, three pins; 3-1, 18-6

• Toryn Hume, 220, one fall; 1-1, 24-10

Ending the day as runners-up were four more Moffat County grapplers — Chris Moschetti (132), Daniel Caddy (138), Drake Zimmerman (152) and Toryn Hume (220), each losing only in their final matches.

After an unexpected forfeit by Steamboat Springs’ Mohammed Alnajdawi, Moschetti was already guaranteed to place in the tourney, but he solidified his return to state with a 10-7 win against Middle Park’s Blake Weimer. However, he met his match in 33-1 Zander Condit of Conifer, ranked second in the state, Moschetti taking a 13-4 defeat by major decision and his second silver regional honor in a row.

“We knew his final would be a tough one, and he wrestled it tough, but that’s a very talented kid,” Fredrickson said.

Caddy was looking to improve on his third-place regional finish from the previous year and with a pin of Skyview’s Sebastian Viernes and 10-0 MD against Lamar’s Walker Kee, he was already a step up. However, he got pinned by the appropriately named Captain Payne of Conifer with two seconds left in regulation.

After missing most of the early season due to an arm injury, Zimmerman was eager to sweep through regionals, advancing beyond the fourth place he got at last year’s tourney. Back-to-back-to-back pins of Middle Park’s Champ Stuart, Skyview’s Xavier Viernes and Eagle Valley’s Noah Baldwin set him up for a possible trip to the top of the podium, but Zimmerman was outlasted in the final match, as Dimitris Flores took the win 5-4.

Fredrickson said he thought Zimmerman was likely disappointed with the loss but also already thinking of how to make it work for him going forward.

“That was a very winnable match for him, and I think if he sees that kid again at state, he’ll probably beat him,” he said.

Hume, who also was fourth at regionals in 2017, only needed one win to get locked in for a trip to state in a field of only five wrestlers, and he got the nod with a second-round fall against Eagle Valley’s Rowan Sokup. Still, facing off against No. 2-ranked Bart Gruenloh of Lamar, he found himself on his back in 63 seconds.

“We knew that’d be a tough one going in, and he knew he’d have a tough time,” Fredrickson said. “That’s an awfully good kid.”

Battling back — Third place

• Dagan White, 106, two pins, one decision; 3-1, 20-8

• Jefferson Piatt, 195, three pins, one technical fall; 4-1, 14-11

Dagan White (106) and Jefferson Piatt (195) each took early losses but stayed on course for victory throughout the consolation rounds to place third.

White’s opening pin of Lamar’s Caleb Rigsby put him in the semifinals, only to be felled by Skyview’s Nadim Kargar, who would go on to win the weight class altogether.

A 9-2 win against Alameda’s Cameron Weaver put him in the running for the bronze and the wiry wrestler was only one second from tying Peroulis for the fastest fall, defeating Conifer’s Cayden Condit in 25 seconds.

While all his teammates took a win in their first bout, Piatt got sent to the consolations all too soon with a loss by third-round pin to Elizabeth’s Azadian Romero. That proved to be a motivator, as he went on to pin Conifer’s Caleb Barker, Mullen’s Patrick Graham and Middle Park’s Will DeLay, each in the first period, ending his run with a 16-1 tech fall versus Steamboat’s John Slowey.

The outcome was a pleasant one for MCHS coaches, Fredrickson said.

“Jefferson did better than I think anybody expected, and he looked pretty dominant doing it,” he said. “He’s come a long way this year, and he was the surprise of the tournament, for our team anyway, to pull off what he did.”

Making the cut — Fourth place

• Isiaih Herod, 126, four pins; 4-2, 24-11

• Ethan Powers, 145, one pin, one decision; 2-2, 18-10

• Greg Hixson, 160, two pins, one decision; 3-2, 11-14

With the top four in each weight class moving on to Denver’s Pepsi Center, Isiaih Herod (126) Ethan Powers (145) and Greg Hixson (160) each won fourth in the regional tourney to extend their season.

Herod was en route to the semifinals with pins of Englewood’s Jaheim Young and Skyview’s David Barela before being upended by eventual champ Lucas Comroe of Eagle Valley. Herod took a fall against Mullen’s Nick Machock before being denied third place with an 8-3 decision that went to Lamar’s Jose Serrano.

The double-elimination rule does not apply in the consolation finals, and Herod had one more shot at state, picking up the win with a pin of Conifer’s Noah Hartman.

“He really had some great wrestle-backs,” Fredrickson said of Herod’s comeback.

After going 0-2 in 2017’s regional event, Hixson’s results were far more positive, complete with a fall against Faith Christian’s Elias Akins and a close 7-6 victory against Middle Park’s Dylan Kloss. Lamar’s Anthony Martinez got the 12-5 defeat in the semifinals, but Hixson responded with a pin of Skyview’s Daniel Agosto before finding himself matched with Kloss again, this time losing by fall.

Even so, Hixson’s past victory worked to his advantage when he was set against Agosto in the fourth-place bout, automatically getting the win thanks to a tournament rule that gives the state qualification to the previous winner if opponents are paired again at that point.

Powers had a similar path. He started off with a pin of Eagle Valley’s Jason Morrison before falling to Steamboat’s Lance Bryant, who would win the weight. A consolation match against Elizabeth’s Spencer Winkle gave him the win 6-1, while the third-place round concluded with a 6-5 tiebreaker victory for opponent Tristan Eskridge.

With Winkle the next name in the bracket, Powers got the win by default to claim fourth, a bit of karma after placing fifth in 2017 due to the same rule.

Fredrickson said he was happy to see all six seniors who attended regionals — Klimper, Peroulis, Hume, Zimmerman, Moschetti and Powers — have one more big meet in front of them during the state meet Feb. 15 to 17.

“They’ve been such a great group all year, and it’d be great to see every single senior get a state medal out of it,” he said. “They’ve really set the example for the younger kids and set the bar real high.”

Never give up — Fifth place

• Blake Juergens, 113, two pins, one decision; 3-3, 12-10

As the only freshman to represent the Dogs at regionals, Blake Juergens had a lengthy journey throughout the 113 bracket, pinning Conifer’s Laurel Acab-Schneider to kick off his stint before Carlos Sanchez of Denver West claimed an 11-7 win in the quarterfinals.

From there, Juergens pinned Alameda’s Gage Denoyer but lost by 14-3 major decision to Skyview’s Samuel Moreno. Matched up against Sanchez a second time, the Bulldog knew how to handle him and won it 6-4.

“He sure wrestled his heart out, did a good job for us,” Fredrickson said.

Juergens progressed to the final opportunity for state, losing out on fourth place with a 4-2 defeat to Sergio Mendoza of Lamar, the team who took the 3A Region 3 title with 12 state qualifiers despite MCHS ending the first day with a lead in points thanks to a 16-2 opening with plentiful pins.

“Lamar had 14 good kids there, so I’m pretty happy how we stacked up against them,” Fredrickson said of the team outcome. “A lot of the people at the tournament thought Lamar would run away with it, but we fought them for it, and one more tough team might have helped.”

Rather than increase the pressure for athletes in the final week, Fredrickson said he believes they’ll continue with usual regimen before shipping out, as wrestlers already have their heads in the game.

“They’re relaxed, I believe they’re actually having fun,” he said. “They’re aggressive and wrestling with a lot of confidence.”

Moffat County High School wrestling at 3A CHSAA State Championships

— The following are the match-ups scheduled for MCHS athletes in the opening round at state.

MCHS wrestler, weight, season record — First opponent, school, record

• Dagan White, 106, 20-8 — Javan Valdez, Valley, 17-8

• Isiaih Herod, 126, 24-11 — Ryan Moltz, Salida, 37-4

• Chris Moschetti, 132, 26-6 — Tyler Kenison, Alamosa, 30-13

• Daniel Caddy, 138, 33-9 — Oswaldo Nunez, Brush, 37-10

• Ethan Powers, 145, 18-10 — Brandon Buhr, Centauri, 46-3

• Drake Zimmerman, 152, 18-6 — Cole Gray, Woodland Park, 29-9

• Greg Hixson, 160, 11-14 — Ty Garnhart, Eaton, 22-5

• Miki Klimper, 170, 37-3 — Ian Reinhardt, Pagosa Springs, 18-11

• Elias Peroulis, 182, 36-5 — Jesse Camp, Salida, 21-13

• Jefferson Piatt, 195, 14-11 — Brock Johnson, Berthoud, 15-2

• Toryn Hume, 220, 24-10 — Logan Thompson, Alamosa, 26-13