Steamboat Springs The three area wrestling teams that traveled to the West Grand Tournament Saturday might not have had as high of numbers as the tournament champion, Wiggins, but they did have grapplers that came home as place winners and one named as the tournament's outstanding wrestler.
Hayden, Steamboat Springs and Soroco all had wrestlers finishing in the top four in the 14-team tournament with Hayden having three tournament champions and 152-pounder Kelly Bruchez named as the outstanding wrestler for the upper weight classes.
And despite a wrestling powerhouse such as Wiggins, who brought 27 wrestlers to the tournament, the Hayden team of nine, Soroco team of eight and Steamboat team of four finished in the tournament's top 10.
With six out of its nine wrestlers placing, Hayden was able to capture third place at the tournament with 145 points behind Wiggins, who took first with 318 points and Moffat County's JV team, who placed second with 162.5 points.
The Tigers' 215-pound Tanner Copeland, 160-pound Riley Whiteman and Bruchez all took home first places.
"The three first places had an exceptional tournament and pinned most of their opponents," Hayden coach John Svoboda said.
After pinning a Moffat County JV wrestler in the final round, Bruchez won the weight class and was named as the outstanding wrestler in the 145 pound and above weight classes.
At 160 pounds, Whiteman continued the Tigers' hold of top place. Unlike Bruchez, Whiteman wrestled in a round robin instead of a bracket-style tournament and won all five of Saturday's matches to claim the weight class title.
"It was the best he has wrestled all year," Svoboda said.
In the final 215-pound division, Copeland beat a Wiggins wrestler to take first. Clayton Neumiller finished second at 189 pounds, Kevin Miller took third at 171 pounds and heavyweight Allen Stark placed fourth.
With three top-four finishers, Soroco took a tournament seventh with 55 points. Freshman Whittier Gates had the highest finish for the Rams as he took home second.
After recording two falls, Gates met West Grand's Garret Eller, a senior who beat him 12-7 in the final round. Rams coach Doug Gates said it was a close match that had Eller on his back and close to a pin once in the match.
In the 135-pound weight class, Brandon Ager took third place and Matt Iacovetto placed fourth for the Rams at 119 pounds.
For the Sailors, two out of their four wrestlers placed at the tournament, which gave them a ninth-place finish with 42 points.
At heavyweight, Will Zimmerer had the highest place for the Sailors placing second. After winning two matches, Zimmerer went head to head with a strong Wiggins wrestler to lose in the final round.
Steamboat's Wes Adams took a fourth at the 171-pound weight class, which was a round robin-style class. Adams lost four of the five matches he wrestled, including a loss by one point in an overtime battle to the Tigers' Miller.
For the Sailors and Rams, the West Grand Tournament is the last competition before the Christmas break. The Tigers will travel to West Grand for a dual meet on Thursday before taking a holiday breather.
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