Opening day of state tourney sees success for Moffat County wrestlers
So far so good for Moffat County High School wrestling in the first round of the 3A CHSAA State Championships in Denver.
MCHS took multiple victories to start their final tournament of the season, and the action Thursday flew by for Bulldogs.
In the 106-pound division, freshman Kaden Hixson capitalized on the seeding afforded him with his 3A Region 1 championship with a third period fall over La Junta’s Benny Diego Gonzales.
After a scoreless two minutes, an escape and a penalty point went against Hixson, but he responded with a takedown in the second period and a reversal in the third that was shortly followed by the pin with 35 seconds left.
Regional runner-up Caden Call was on the next mat concurrently in the 113 class, and shortly after Hixson gained his victory, Call followed suit against Eagle Valley’s Logan Stephens.
After an early takedown, Call also was docked a point, while Stephens made a devilish escape to tie them at 2-2.
Call was in command from there with another TD and a reversal for good measure to get the win at 6-2.
At 120, Duran took the silver at regionals but had his eyes on the prize to start state in his second year at the Pepsi Center.
Starting with a takedown of Jefferson’s Daniel Soto, the Bulldog picked up an additional point with a penalty against Soto, who was cautioned three times during the bout.
Soto earned a reversal that looked to benefit him, yet Duran gained an escape and a late takedown for a 6-2 W.
In the 152 category, senior Daniel Caddy started his fourth year at state like a steamroller against Ben May of The Classical Academy, who avoided being pinned by the Bulldog upperclassman, but just barely.
After struggling to score in his final regional match, Caddy racked up point after point, including three near-falls, two takedowns and a reversal altogether in the 14-0 major decision.
With four MoCo wrestlers moving on to the quarterfinals, the team only took one loss Thursday as Pepper Rhyne faced one of the 160 brackets’ top contenders, Tanner Baumgartner of Weld Central.
Rhyne, who placed fourth at regionals, fared somewhat better than teammate Caddy’s opponent, earning an escape in the first round. However, Baumgartner had Rhyne in near-pin position four times, eventually finishing with a 16-1 technical fall.
As the tourney continues Friday, Hixson (39-4) faces Valley’s Javan Valdez (22-8), with Call (31-10) paired with Jefferson’s Angelo Lozado (32-7).
Duran (27-13) will have his work cut out for him against Woodland Park’s Brady Hankin, who, at 39-1, is the top seed in the 120 weight class.
In the last round of the quarters, 30-2 Caddy will meet Nick Gallegos of Jefferson (35-5).
Now 31-10, Rhyne will seek to advance through the consolation side of the brackets, paired with Donovan Vigil (26-15) of Pueblo Central.
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Moffat County Sheriff KC Hume saw it as a win-win situation.