On the bubble
To get to state, five wrestlers know they must defy their seedings and wrestle well
The numbers of reservations in Denver for the Moffat County wrestling team are on hold until Saturday. That’s because coach Roman Gutierrez has reservations about how many of his wrestlers will be making the trip.
“I told the guys we could either be driving to state in a Volkswagen or in a van,” Gutierrez said. “We have quite a few guys who, if they wrestle well, will go. If they don’t, they won’t.”
No Bulldog received a No. 1 seed in the regional tournament, which starts Friday in Grand Junction. But Gutierrez doesn’t think the seeds, which are decided solely by winning percentage, have much validity.
“A Front Range school like Golden brings in kids with good records, but I just don’t know if they’ve wrestled anybody tough,” he said. “Schools like Golden and Jefferson and Evergreen picked up some high seeds with their padded records, but I think we’ll see in the second or third rounds if they are for real.”
Craig wrestlers Korey Kostur (145 pounds), Nick Navratil (189 pounds) and Cory Vigil (103 pounds) received second seeds in the tournament. Brice Boling (112), Jake Breslin (119) and Daniel Cramblett (152) received third seeds.
Gutierrez said he expects to see those wrestlers finish in the top four this weekend in Grand Junction and advance to state. A majority of his other wrestlers are “on the bubble,” Gutierrez said.
Middleweight wrestlers Matt Kincheloe (125), Chris McAlexander (130), Lyle Schaffner (135) and Drew Turner (140) as well as Clancy Garoutte (171) are all seeded out of the top four. Gutierrez said they could advance with a good tournament.
“If we wrestle like we did against Palisade, we could have a nice representation for state,” he said. “None of those guys have to wrestle out of their minds to get to state, they just have to wrestle well.”
If they were to advance, they would do what Mc—-Alexander did last year. As a sophomore, McAlexander went into his first regional tournament as the 11th seed. He wrestled beyond expectations and finished fourth to make it to state.
“It’s not about the seed, it’s about how you wrestle,” the eighth-seeded wrestler said.
Moffat County wrestlers have traditionally wrestled well during the last two weeks of the season. The five bubble boys said they think the same result will happen this year.
“We’re in better shape than anybody,” Kincheloe said. “If a match gets into the third period, it’s ours to win.”
The Bulldogs also were confident that they’re going to be more experienced than some of the higher-seeded wrestlers.
“We’ve faced the toughest competition in Colorado,” Garoutte said.
That’s evident in some of the head-to-head results with the Bulldogs and wrestlers seeded higher. Kincheloe and Turner have pinned wrestlers seeded ahead of them.
“I’ve beat several guys above me,” Turner said.
Inexperience could play against the five. Only Kincheloe and McAlexander have wrestled at the regional.
“I’m way nervous,” Garoutte said. “But I know I just have to wrestle like I have all year.”
The other two wrestlers, Trenton Duarte (160) and David Hickson (215), may have to wrestle “out of their minds” to make the trip to Denver, Gutierrez said.
Duarte is cursed with a stacked bracket (five wrestlers ranked in the top 10 in state), Hickson with inexperience (his first year wrestling).
“Duarte has the toughest bracket in the region,” Gutierrez said. “David will need some big wins to get there.”
In the team race, Gutierrez said, his boys have a good chance to win the eighth-consecutive regional tournament for Moffat County.
“I like where we’re sitting,” he said. “But it will be a three- or four-team race with us, Montrose, Palisade and Golden.”
Eagle Valley is ranked higher in the state (No. 6) than the other regional teams, but that’s because they have four wrestlers ranked in the top four of the state.
“Eagle Valley is a better team at state,” Gutierrez said. “Our depth helps us at the regional.”
The first round of wrestling starts at 11 a.m. Friday at Grand Junction High School.
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