3 Routt County wrestlers still in running for state titles
February 16, 2018
Editor’s note: This story has been updated.
DENVER — Friday morning matches are no easy feat for any competitor at the CHSAA State Championships, but the second day of the tournament was particularly costly for the roster of Routt County wrestlers still active in the tournament, which was cut in half.
Routt County will be represented by three grapplers Saturday in the title bouts — Steamboat Springs’ Hayden Johnson and Soroco’s Jace Logan and Sky Carlson.
In the 3A 160-pound weight, Johnson had his work cut out for him against Alamosa’s Ben Vance, but the matchup between the Sailor and the Mean Moose went to the former. Johnson, one of many grapplers to have to stuff tissues in his nostrils to complete his bout, won by a 7-4 decision.
“He’s wrestled a smart game; he’s controlling the tempo, and he never gets too excited,” coach Travis Bryant said.
Johnson stayed the course during the evening’s semifinals, earning one takedown after another in a one-sided match with Eaton’s Ty Garnhart, ultimately winning a 12-4 major decision to move on the finals.
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Two other Sailors were sunk Friday, as Tucker Havel (126) and John Slowey (195) went the distance, only to lose 2-0 and 8-0 against opponents from Strasburg and Delta.
Down, but not out, donning the red and black, was Lance Bryant, who had his championship hopes dashed on the rocks with a 9-3 loss to Pagosa Springs’ Tate Hinger, though the Sailor stayed afloat in the 3A 145 consolation rounds later that night, notching a win against Jake Sandrey of Bayfield.
“All these guys are my boys, but it’s definitely different with your own son,” Travis Bryant said, adding that Lance’s head was where it needed to be upon his return to the mat.
For the 2A Rams, Logan (170) and Carlson (220) kept their first-day momentum going with speedy pins of Akron’s Derrick Poss and Rocky Ford’s Simon Apodaca, respectively.
And, the winning ways which have become commonplace for the pair didn’t change in the semis — Logan pinned Paonia’s Anthony Felice, and Carlson felled Brayden Dillingham, of Calhan, as each advanced to the title round.
The third member of the Three Musketeers to make it to state had a rougher time Friday. Heavyweight Erik Shafer, from Oak Creek, went to the consolation round after a Thursday loss and was 0-2 following his next match, pinned by Burlington’s Trent Gramm.
Hayden had the most difficulties Friday, with all the Tigers out of the running for a state title, but comebacks were also in the making.
In 2A’s 138 quarterfinals, Keenan Hayes was felled by Burlington’s Cody Jacobsen, while 170’s Hunter Planansky got caught in a pin by Wray’s Carlos Tarin, to move to the back brackets.
Fellow Tigers Payton Planansky (106) and Wyatt Murphy (120) were already there and wrapped their time at state, pinned, respectively, by Marco Martinez, of Sedgwick County/Fowler, and on an 18-4 major decision by Alejandro Velasquez, of Sierra Grande/Centennial.
The Plananskys had planned to be present with elder brother Jake, though the senior sibling was unable to join them, due to an injury in practice that prevented him from competing at regionals.
Still, Jake said he was thrilled to see Payton, a freshman, and sophomore Hunter get to the big time, even if it was viewing them as a spectator.
“Hunter’s worked harder to get state than anyone I know,” he said. “And for Payton, being a freshman, just getting this far is awesome.”
Hunter rebounded well from his earlier loss — a match with Preston Terrell of Del Norte — also of the Tigers — was a whirlwind waltz of black and orange before he finally flung Terrell to the mat and pinned him.
“He was tired, gassed himself after the first period,” Hunter said, adding that he seized a window of opportunity when Terrell made an ill-advised grab against him.
Hayes, also a freshman, won his consolation match with a fall against Kiowa’s Zeke Buker. For him, it’s all about setting the flow of the match.
“Once I get control, that’s when I can work my stuff, run my game,” Hayes said.
Hayden coach Chad Jones is optimistic the two lowerclassmen can still place and set a precedent for seasons to come.
“They came down here with a good attitude, and I think this’ll be great for them in the future,” he said.