170-pound bracket loaded with elite locals as Steamboat, Soroco, Hayden start wrestling seasons
After just one weekend of wrestling for local high school teams, the 170-pound bracket is already looking like one that should provide big-time fireworks between those local teams all season.
Three of the region’s top wrestlers all fell into that bracket on Saturday at Middle Park High School at the first tournament of the season. That included two two-time state finalists, Jace Logan, a junior from Soroco, and Hayden Johnson, a senior from Steamboat Springs.
Add in Hunter Planansky, a Hayden sophomore, and the local head-to-head matchups may have more juice than they’ve had in years.
“That’s pretty exciting,” Soroco coach Jay Whaley said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Round one went to Logan, who took out Planansky with an 8-1 decision, then beat Johnson in the championship, 4-2, with a late takedown.
Despite reigning as the two top wrestlers in the county for the previous two years, it was their first actual matchup on the mat.
Planansky, meanwhile, bounced back to win two matches in the consolation bracket for a third-place finish.
“That was probably the best bracket of the tournament,” Hayden coach Chad Jones said. “Hunter, that was really good for him. He’s really turning a corner.”
Sailors come up big Friday, Saturday
Steamboat came away from the weekend with strong results both Friday night and Saturday.
The Sailors split Friday in a triangular against Battle Mountain (a loss) and Summit (a win), then came back a day later to finish second at Middle Park High School in Granby.
“It was a great start,” coach Travis Bryant said. “I liked the way the boys were hustling, working hard. They were listening and very coachable this weekend.”
No one on the team had a better first weekend than sophomore John Slowey at 195 pounds. He won both of his matches Friday night, then stormed through his bracket Saturday, winning his first match by a 7-5 decision, then earning pins in the next two before winning the day’s title with another decision, 8-6.
“He’s learning to control his hips,” Bryant said. “He’s got a good punch through. He works the head really well, stuffing it underneath and keeps his weight above his opponent.”
He was one of two Sailors’ to win their weight brackets at the tournament. The other was senior Lance Bryant, wrestling again at 145 pounds.
He dominated Saturday’s competition, winning his first three matches with first-period pins, then his final match with a pin in the second period. He also won both matches Friday night to make for an undefeated weekend.
Elsewhere, Tucker Havel won both of his Friday matches at 126 pounds, then went 3-1 Saturday to place second. Mohammad Alnajdawi went 1-1 Friday and was fifth Saturday with a 4-1 record at 132 pounds.
Kyle Spognardi won his only match Friday, then was second after going 4-1 at 138 pounds Saturday. Ivan Reynolds was 1-1 Friday and 1-2 Saturday.
Johnson went 1-0 Friday night at 170 pounds then 2-1 Saturday, losing only in that championship against Jace Logan.
“They were both getting after it,” Bryant said.
Steamboat’s Kaleb Anderson also had a strong weekend. He wrestled junior varsity at 132 pounds Friday night, winning his only match, then went 3-2 Saturday.
Tigers place third
The Hayden High School wrestling team got big days from both rookies and veterans as it fought to a third-place finish in the tournament at Middle Park to start its season.
“Things went really well,” Hayden coach Chad Jones said. “We had good effort, good attitude and good leadership.”
On the veteran side, Taylor Powell, a 120-pound junior, went 3-0 with three pins to win his bracket. Jake Planansky, a senior, went 3-1 with two pins to finish third at 145 pounds.
Hunter Planansky was 3-1 to earn that third place finish. He had three pins and his only loss came against Logan.
Wade Henrdricks, a senior, also went 2-2 at 132 pounds.
Among the new faces, few shined like Keenan Hayes, who stormed to a 5-0 record at 138 pounds in his first high school wrestling tournament. He pinned each of his opponents.
“He’s a natural,” Jones said.
Among other freshmen, Kyler Campbell was 3-2 with two pins to finish third at 106 pounds, Payton Planansky was 1-2 with a pin to finish third at 113 pounds and Wyatt Murphy was 3-2 to place fourth at 126 pounds.
Rams aiming to get up to speed
Soroco came into the weekend without as much practice as most teams thanks to the Rams’ football team’s drive to the state semifinals.
That’s a trade-off they’re willing to take, but Whaley said he saw the result in his athletes. Sure, most came in in fine football shape, but wrestling’s a bit different.
“It’s every muscle in your body, not just your legs and not just cardio,” Whaley said. “It’s a completely different shape, so we have a long ways to go.”
Even if they got winded a bit early, they still came away with fine results.
The team picked up one other bracket win in addition to Logan’s, this one coming from 220-pounder Schuyler Carlson. He went 3-0 on the day and avoided that “getting tired” problem by barely wrestling at all. He won his first match with a pin 20 seconds in. He did it in 11 seconds for his second match and 39 in his third, adding up to 1:10 for all three.
“He’s better than where we left off at state a year ago,” Whaley said. “He’s more confident. Now he knows he’s good.”
Another Soroco highlight came at 145 pounds from Dalton Ray, who went 3-1 and placed second. He lost in the championship to Steamboat’s Lance Bryant via a second-period pin, but showed well in the weekend’s largest bracket.
Kody Logan went 3-2 to place third at 138 pounds. He lost in the second round to Steamboat’s Kyle Spognardi, but got three pins in the consolation bracket to finish things off.
Jonathan Jerome went 2-2 to place second at 160 pounds. Tristan Singer was 1-3 and placed sixth at 195 pounds. Gene Bracegridle went 2-2 at 132 pounds, Michael Boleng was 1-2 at 126 and Darrel Ebaugh was 0-2 at 120.
In all the Rams had nine wrestlers, and that too was a good sign in Whaley’s eyes.
“Nine kids, that’s the biggest team I’ve put into a tournament since I’ve been coaching and I started in 2000,” he said.
Next up for both Soroco and Hayden is a night of duals at Soroco on Friday followed by a tournament at Soroco on Saturday.
Steamboat will travel to wrestle a triangular Tuesday against Coal Ridge and Moffat County, then travel to the Front Range for more tournament action on Saturday.
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