Hayden wrestlers ‘hungry’ to prove what they can do | SteamboatToday.com

Hayden wrestlers ‘hungry’ to prove what they can do

Hunter Planansky wrestles at the Eagle Valley Invitational in January 2019.
Gayle Zimmerman/courtesy

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In 2019, Hayden High School junior Hunter Planansky came as close as one can get to winning a state championship without actually doing it. He tied Nucla’s Will Gabriel through three periods and extra time before falling 3-1 to take second in the 182-pound bracket.

As a senior, the 2019-20 season will be Planansky’s final chance at a state title. He’s determined to stand on top of the podium and has been putting in work all summer and learning what he needs to do to improve.

“I try to be like myself, work to get myself better,” Planansky said. “I feel like I need to work on the feet, shooting more.” 

Hayden head coach Nick Planansky, who is also Hunter’s father, said Hunter has altered his mindset going into his final season in a Hayden singlet.

“(He got) beat in the state final and that was the point when he looked at himself and realized, ‘I can do this,’” Nick said.

Sophomore Dylan Zimmerman was the only other Tiger to stand on the state podium last year, finishing third as a freshman.

At the state tournament, he was bumped into the consolation bracket with a loss to Michael Atencio of Rye, an opponent Zimmerman said he looks forward to meeting again this year. At 113 pounds, Zimmerman fell to the eventual state champion by way of a 6-1 decision.

Hayden wrestler Wyatt Murphy controls Steamboat Springs’ Mohammed Alnajdawi on the mat in a February 2019 matchup at Soroco High School.
Leah Vann

When the Tigers travel to Center in February, Zimmerman hopes to run into Atencio there before achieving his ultimate goal of standing on top of the podium. He knows he has some work to do before accomplishing that, though.

“My goal is to be more aggressive and be more mean,” Zimmerman said. “There’s this (University of) Iowa wrestler, Austin DeSanto. He’s aggressive and mean and a fun kid to watch. I kind of want to resemble him a little bit.”

Hunter isn’t the only senior, but he’s the only seasoned one, as Garrett Salazar hasn’t wrestled in years, and Jack Nelms has never wrestled before.

Junior Payton Planansky should be another Tiger making the trip to regionals and state this year after suffering a knee injury last winter. Juniors Kyler Campbell and Wyatt Murphy who attended state last year are also expected to perform well.

“I wouldn’t want to go to war with anyone else but this team,” Zimmerman said. “They’re the toughest kids in the whole school.”

The Tigers, new and old, will get their first chance to prove themselves in a home dual against Rangely on Friday, Dec. 6.

Hayden wrestling schedule

  • Dec. 6: Rangely at Hayden, W 53-18
  • Dec. 7: Hayden at Middle Park, 1st
  • Dec. 13: Hayden at Soroco
  • Dec. 14: Hayden at Soroco Invite, 1st
  • Dec. 20-21: Hayden at Warrior Classic at Central
  • Jan. 10-11: Hayden at Vernal Tournament of Champions
  • Jan. 15: Meeker at Hayden, 6 p.m.
  • Jan. 18: Hayden at Rifle Dual Tournament, 8:30 a.m.
  • Jan. 22: Hayden at Rifle, 6 p.m.
  • Jan. 25: Hayden at Paonia Invite, 8 a.m.
  • Jan. 28: Routt County Tri at Steamboat Springs, 5 p.m.
  • Jan. 31: Hayden at Center, 7 p.m.
  • Feb. 1: Hayden at Center Tournament
  • Feb. 7: Hayden at Rangely, 6 p.m.
  • Feb. 8: Hayden at Meeker Tournament
  • Feb. 14-15: Hayden at Regionals in Montrose
  • Feb. 20-22: Hayden at State in Denver

Due to the size of the team, Hayden may have trouble competing as a team in dual formats, since the squad is lacking grapplers in some key weight classes. Still, Nick Planansky is confident he has strong individuals who can get his team bonus points with pins and technical falls to help the Tigers compete in duals.

Nick said his team will get a true test of where it’s at when the more experienced wrestlers head to the Warrior Classic in Grand Junction just ahead of the holiday break. A few Tigers are counting down the days to that tournament.

“(They’re) hungry,” he said. “They’re coming in every day, they’re working hard. They’re putting in the work, and they look good. They’re ready to show what they’re capable of.”

To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.

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