Moffat County wrestling fights to the finish at Warrior Classic
- 132, Isiaih Herod, 8-3 — 2-2
- 138, Daniel Caddy, 17-3 — 6-2, 5th
- 145, Ethan Powers, 10-5 — 1-2
- 152, Greg Hixson, 5-10 — 1-2
- 170, Miki Klimper, 19-1 — 4-1, 2nd
- 182, Elias Peroulis, 18-2 — 3-2, 4th
- 220, Toryn Hume, 2-2 — 2-2
- 113, Slater Durbin — 1-3
- 120, Blake Juergens — 2-2
- 126, Coltyn Terry — 3-2, 4th
- 126, Jeremiah Ziegler — 3-1, 2nd
- 138, Keaton Durbin — 0-2
- 152, Connor Winn — 1-2
- 160, Daniel Cruz — 0-2
- 182, Jefferson Piatt — 5-1, 3rd
For a tournament known as the Warrior Classic, it was only appropriate that the Moffat County High School wrestlers came out fighting right away.
The Bulldogs tied for 14th among more than 40 teams across five states gathered during the weekend at Central High School in Grand Junction, with three Moffat County athletes finding their way to the podium.
Battle to the end
Miki Klimper went the distance during the Warrior as he powered through early rounds of the 170-pound bracket, starting with a technical fall that amounted to a 19-2 score, followed by back-to-back pins of Centaurus and Paonia opponents.
Paonia’s Anthony Felice nearly got him on his back, but Klimper promptly flipped him for the reversal, achieving the pin moments later.
“I think I bridged harder than I ever have in my life,” Klimper laughed.
A narrow 3-2 victory over Grand Junction’s Jay Skalecki put the Bulldog senior in the championship round against Pagosa Springs’ Dalton Lucero.
Lucero led Klimper 4-3 for most of the match and made him work to get any other points, a strategy that backfired as the referee penalized Lucero for stalling at the last second.
“My feeling is once he put it into overtime, he was saying, ‘let the kid decide it on the mat,’” said MCHS coach Dennis Fredrickson. “That’s all you can ask for from an official.”
The bout moved into extra minutes, and Lucero picked up the sudden victory at 6-4 with a quick takedown as he got just enough leverage and slammed Klimper to the mat to give the Bulldog the silver medal.
The loss was the first this season for Klimper, now 19-1, but he said with his undefeated status gone, that’s prompting him to work even harder with the possibility of seeing Lucero again this year.
“The pressure’s on now,” he said.
Fredrickson added that he believes Klimper’s loss will ultimately be his gain as he continues to improve.
“He doesn’t lose very often, he’s very competitive, but he accepts the loss, doesn’t have to like it,” he said. “It’s always hard to go undefeated because you don’t know what your limits are, but you know that you are vulnerable. It’s hard to stay on top forever.”
Elias Peroulis likewise went into the tournament undefeated, but his first loss came sooner, a 9-0 major decision in the semifinals that went to Grand Junction’s Seth Latham, who went on to win the 182 bracket.
Peroulis pinned Pagosa Springs’ Colton Castro to stay alive for third place, facing off in his final round against Pine Creek’s Garrett Niel.
Intel on Niel told the Moffat County grappler to watch out for a headlock from his opponent, and the move came as expected, subsequently getting Peroulis into pin position.
“That was a real slick move, I didn’t even see it coming,” Fredrickson said.
Peroulis said he was still happy with fourth place, going much further at the Warrior than last year.
“These are all tests for the finals, for state,” he said.
In the 138 class, Daniel Caddy had the longest weekend of all, sent into the consolation round by Meeker’s Tannen Kennedy with a 14-4 major decision.
Caddy had two of his three pins on the other end of the brackets, as well as two wins by decision before meeting Kennedy again, this time getting pinned by the Cowboy.
While warming up for their final bouts of the night — Kennedy with third place at stake and Caddy fifth — the two were in close quarters as they awaited their matches.
“It was a little weird, but we’re all in the same mindset at that point,” Caddy said. “I didn’t do very good against him in that first one, but I took it to him in the second and I hope I can take it to him again.”
Caddy had another reminder of the Meeker foe during his match with Delta’s Cody Sauve. A nosebleed courtesy of Kennedy kept springing up, though it proved little more than a nuisance as the Bulldog shoved plugs in his nostrils and dominated Sauve in a 14-2 major decision to place fifth.
Fight the good fight
With seven total athletes at the Warrior, MCHS coaches weren’t expecting to have enough points to place highly as a team.
Still, each of those competing put points on the board one way or another.
At 132, Isiaih Herod was out of contention in the first round with a loss by a 16-6 major decision, though he took two falls over Meeker’s Cooper Main and Pueblo South’s Michael Gonzales to finish the opening day before being pinned by Cedaredge’s Alex McCracken first thing Saturday.
Toryn Hume also took a quick defeat in his initial match at 220, pinned by Central’s Weston Holden. Pins of Fort Lupton’s Lorenzo Vasquez and Fruita Monument’s Levi Womack followed, but Hume finished with a 7-4 loss to Paonia’s Cyrus Malek’Madani.
“I did all right, but I think there was a lot of learning from it,” Hume said.
In the middle of the pack were Ethan Powers (145) and Greg Hixson (152), each 1-2. While in the consolation rounds, Hixson took a 9-2 win against Thorin Howell, of Montezuma Cortez, while Powers took his win by medical forfeit against Fort Collins’ Shay Wind.
Multiple bye rounds were a change from the previous duals in Grand Junction, and Powers said that had an effect.
“When you sit around that long, it wears on you, and I think that kind of hurt me,” he said.
While the Warrior was strictly a varsity event, nearby was the Fruita Monument JV Tournament where MCHS tied for seventh among 20 teams and likewise placed three.
Jeremiah Ziegler led the way in second place for the 126 class, taking three straight pins before an 8-2 loss in the championship round to Rifle’s Bryce Rowley. Competing in the same class, Coltyn Terry rebounded from a quarterfinal defeat by Hotchkiss’s Adam Smith to go 3-2, ultimately falling to Central’s Louis Grasso — who had just lost to Ziegler — to place fourth.
Jefferson Piatt also took a loss in the quarterfinals with a late pin by Montrose’s Raul Martinez but fought through the 182 brackets to take third, with four falls and a forfeit.
New year, new resolve
MCHS wrestlers will have one final event of 2017, with a dual against Hayden taking place at 6 p.m. Thursday at MCHS.
Though their minds are certainly focused on one more competition, athletes and coaches can’t help but look to what’s to come in 2018, namely the hopeful return of those who have had to sit out so far this season — Dagan White, Kaden Cox, Karson Cox, Chris Moschetti and Drake Zimmerman, all of whom are on the mend.
Fredrickson said multiple injuries have been an issue in competitions for the first half of the season, but ensuring all wrestlers are healed up is worth weathering a smaller roster.
Still, harder work in the practice room is coming soon.
“We’re really going to be picking up the intensity,” Fredrickson said. “We’ve been easing into everything, but we’re going to get more serious about it, see if we can’t peak toward regionals and state.”
The Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters will move to Grand Junction.