Soroco’s Lauryn Bruggink makes state wrestling history
Wrestler is 1st girl to win match at state tournament
Denver — It looked just like she always said it would: like any of a dozen other matches Lauryn Bruggink has won in her two-year high school career.
She lunged toward Cameron Ham, of Custer County, from the opening whistle of her first-round consolation match Friday morning at the state tournament in Denver. She caught him quickly and a few seconds after that had the pin.
Short and an obvious mismatch, it certainly was the most unremarkable bout of the 10 going on simultaneously on the floor of Denver’s massive Pepsi Center. Seeing as it decided who got to wrestle for the right to wrestle for the right to wrestle for third place in the lightest division of the smallest classification in the state, it may have been the most unremarkable match of the entire three-day, 1,624-match tournament.
Except it wasn’t.
Soroco sophomore Lauryn Bruggink became the first girl to win a match at the state tournament with a first-period pin.
Later in the day, she won a second match, surviving a late scare to secure a 9-4 decision and advance to today’s consolation quarterfinals.
“It definitely feels good to have it over with,” Bruggink said later. “Now, I can focus on playing. Now, I can focus on being the first girl to place at state.”
Bruggink set the “first girl” mark by a solid 10 minutes. Meeker wrestler Cody Pfau and Byers wrestler Areil Oster, wrestling in the same Class 2A 103-pound bracket, waited in a staging area as Bruggink wrestled and didn’t get their chance to break the gender barrier until Bruggink was finished. Oster lost, but 10 minutes after Bruggink, Pfau became the second girl to win a state match with a second-round pin.
Bruggink didn’t stay to watch. She followed her coach and her father away from the mat, and the group quickly slipped away from the action of the arena’s floor, into the anonymity that the huge crowd at the Pepsi Center allowed, into a period of rest before the second-round match and, whether she sought it or not, into history.
“It’s not a big deal to me right now,” she said. “I think it will (be) later, but right now, I’m still in this tournament. I’m still wrestling.”
Eye on a medal
She got on with the task of wrestling in a long and tough second-round consolation match against Jared Airola, of Nederland. She again was good, and she controlled the pace of the showdown, piecing together a 9-0 lead.
Each of Bruggink’s wins was met with a wide round of applause in the arena, but her many fans all nearly choked on their cheers late as she closed things out against Airola. She was taken down with 12 seconds remaining and rolled to her back for a split second. One last surge, and she’d have been pinned, but she rolled back to her stomach and crawled toward the edge of the mat. Bruggink held on, winning 9-4.
“I think I gave him a few extra gray hairs,” she said, nodding to her father, the beaming Travis Bruggink. “I’ll admit it. I was worried, but I knew how much time was left, and I knew where I was.”
Today, Bruggink returns to the only goal she’s said she cares about. She wants to place. Tough matches await, the first coming at 11 a.m. against David Torres, of Manzanola.
Torres beat Bruggink, 6-1, in the first round of the consolation bracket a year ago. A win there, and Bruggink would face Miguel Torres, of Burlington, the wrestler who cast her into the consolation bracket Thursday in her first match of the tournament.
She won’t enter the matches afraid or resigned, however — not this wrestler.
“It’s a new year,” she said about seeing David Torres again. “It’s state. Anything can happen.”
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