‘Thank you’: Hayden’s Hunter Planansky wins state title with late coach in mind
DENVER — Hayden High School senior Hunter Planansky got his hair cut today.
His dark curls were already in a mullet, but the sides were freshly shaven, exaggerating the look.
“Coach (Chad) Jones wanted me to get this hair cut, but with stripes on the side, my sophomore for state, but my mom said no,” said Planansky. “So, we went to the barber today, and I got it anyways.”
With a new do, sans stripes, Planansky leaned a photo of the late former Hayden wrestling coach Chad Jones against the coaches chairs, between head coach Nick Planansky and Matt Linsacum. The frame had followed him throughout the season.
With his former coach watching, Hunter won for Jones. The Hayden senior capped off his career with a 5-2 decision over Meeker’s Colby Clatterbaugh, winning the 2A 182-pound championship at the Pepsi Center on Saturday.
“He’s been my coach since I was 3, 4 years old, all the way up to my sophomore year,” Hunter said. “I wanted him to be there with me. He helped me through it all.”
Over the 2019-20 season, Hunter and Clatterbaugh have developed a rivalry, squaring off four times since January.
The pair met at the Tournament of Champions in early January, with Clatterbaugh winning 3-1.
Hunter won the next three, improving his margin of victory each time. At a home dual, the Tiger won via ultimate tie breaker. Just over a week later, Hunter defeated the Cowboy 5-0 and in the regional championship, the Hayden senior pinned Clatterbaugh in two minutes and 52 seconds.
Between those four matches, Hunter had learned a lot about the Meeker grappler.
“He’s just really strong,” said Hunter. “He’s really fast and really strong and everything, but takes a minute to think about stuff. I just try to use that to my advantage.”
But those matches no longer mattered.
The only thing that mattered, was what happened on the mat on Saturday.
Hunter made sure there was no question in who won. He earned the first takedown, gave up an escape, and brought Clatterbaugh down again to earn an early 4-1 lead. He elected to start the third period in the down position, and with some allowance from Clatterbaugh, Hunter got the point for an escape. With 40 seconds left, he stayed strong and upright, holding out for the win.
“I had something pushing me, more than he did,” said Hunter. “I had Coach Jones pushing me.”
“Thank you,” he added. “And I miss you.”
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