Family bragging rights up for grabs as Hayden brothers head to state wrestling meet |

Family bragging rights up for grabs as Hayden brothers head to state wrestling meet

Hayden freshman Hunter Planansky battles Soroco sophomore Jessie Amrein in a match earlier this season.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For Hunter and Payton Planasky this week's Colorado High School State Wrestling Tournament may seem more like a family outing than the state championships.

"It's more of a lifestyle," said Hunter Planansky, who is a sophomore at Hayden High School."We have been doing it for so long — wrestling is 24/7 at our house."

Hunter will be competing in the 170-pound weight class, and his younger brother Payton, a freshman, will take a shot in the 106-pound weight class when the championships begin Thursday afternoon at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The tournament will continue Friday and end with championship matches Saturday evening. 

The two boys, who make up two-thirds of the Hayden squad, understand what is at stake — state titles and family bragging rights.

Payton and Hunter come from a family of five boys who have fully embraced the sport of wrestling. Their dad Nick wrestled in middle school and high school and began coaching before Payton was born. Nick now serves as an assistant coach under Hayden head coach Chad Jones.

Payton and Hunter still remember wrestling in the family’s living room when they where toddlers, and dad has laid down wrestling mats in the garage. 

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"I'm super excited about it," Payton said when asked about going to state with his brother. "It gives me somebody that I can look up to."

It will be both boys’ first trip to the state tournament, and Payton likes to point out that he is the first of the boys in the house to have a chance to qualify for state all four years. 

Their older brother Jake was also hoping to make the trip but a neck injury the week before the regional meet ended the senior’s chances of getting to the Pepsi Center. 

"I think we both have a good chance to place," Hunter said. "If we wrestle well, there is no reason we can't be first."

Payton comes into the tournament with a 16-10 record and will face Fowler junior Seth McFail (29-5) in the opening round. Hunter (21-10) will take on Sargent senior Ethan Maxwell (14-10) in the first round.

Hayes went 25-6 this year and is slated to face Custer County junior Ray Perez (16-8) in his first match.

Hunter said the Plananskys have traveled to a lot of big tournaments across the state and in the region, so he feels like he will be ready for the pressures of state competition. 

"It's an amazing opportunity," he said.

An opportunity not only for him, but for the entire Planasky family.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

Hayden wrestler gets second chance at state

Hayden freshman Wyatt Murphy had already moved on.

His fifth-place finish at last week’s regional tournament in Delta should have marked the end of the season for the 120-pound wrestler. Maybe that is why he was so surprised when the Tigers head wrestling coach Chad Jones walked into his early morning class Wednesday.

“I was super surprised,” Murphy said. “When my coach walked into my class, I was caught off guard.”

Murphy will be given a second chance to compete at the Pepsi Center when the Colorado High School State Wrestling Championships open Thursday afternoon. He will take on Burlington senior Christopher Gamboa, 31-6, in the opening round.

His chance comes after Hotchkiss junior Sergio Campos (28-2) had to pull out of the tournament after an emergency appendectomy earlier this week, according to Jones.

“Of course, I want to win, but I really just want to go there and do my best,” Murphy said.