Denver Joel Wixson picked up his warm-up jacket and headed into a nearby hallway in the Pepsi Center after falling in the 171-pound state championship match Saturday night.
When he entered the hallway, he quickly turned to a wall and pressed his hands against it, reflecting on what had just taken place.
Wixson was defeated by Daniel Neal, a Wiggins High School wrestler who captured the state title by pinning the senior Hayden Tiger with :01 remaining in the second period.
Moments earlier, however, Wixson had fought out of a near pin as he reversed Neal and put him into a cradle.
He almost pinned the Wiggins wrestler but ended up settling for two points on a reversal and two points on a near fall.
At that point, Neal was ahead 5-4.
Neal then managed to regain control by reversing Wixson and clamping on a half-nelson just seconds before time expired in the period.
It was a heartbreaking way to lose, but in the end, Wixson walked proudly out of the building as the No. 2 Colorado high school wrestler in the Class 2A division. It was the final match of his high school career, as he capped of his season with a 26-8 record.
"Even though I did lose my last match, I'm happy that I placed this far," Wixson said.
Wixson's coaches, John Svoboda and Ty Zabel, congratulated him for a
tremendous outing at the tourney. Wixson went 3-1, and surpassed his Hayden
teammates by placing the highest in his individual class.
Last year, Wixson was fifth in the state in the 171-pound class.
Anton Fredrickson, last year's 125-pound state champion, finished No. 4 in
the state in the 135-pound class. Fredrickson, who wrestles for Hayden,
dropped his final bout against Chris Anderson of Merino in overtime.
Anderson won 5-3 after scoring a takedown in the extra period.
Josh Iacovetto of Soroco was the No. 3 state-finisher in the 103-pound
division. Iacovetto, who is a sophomore, won four matches and lost one
during the three-day event. In his final match, he upended Tony Gallegos of
Calhan by way of a 4-2 decision.
The Soroco wrestler was awarded a penalty point in the second period when
Gallegos grabbed onto his headgear. In the final period, Iacovetto got
another point for an escape that put him on top, 2-0. He then was penalized
for stalling but got two points on a takedown that sealed the win. His only
loss during the tournament came in the semifinals Friday.
"I knew what I had to do as soon as I lost that match," Iacovetto said. "I
worked as hard as I could to get third."
Iacovetto, who finished his season with a 23-6 record, said he dedicated the
victory to his father, Clyde, and to a close friend who recently passed
That friend was Wes Milway, who graduated from Soroco High School last year.
He died later in the year of a heart problem.
Soroco coach Doug Gates said Iacovetto's defense during the final period was
the key to defeating Gallegos.
"That kid was trying headlocks and anything else that he could," Gates said.
"Josh just stayed focused and stayed out of trouble and didn't make any
Two other Hayden wrestlers made it to the final day of the state tourney.
Kevin Miller, a junior 152-pounder, lost a 13-11 decision to Dylan Stewart
of Cheyenne Wells in the third-round consolations.
Clayton Neumiller, a junior 189-pounder, was pinned by Brandon Alexander of
Norwood at the 1:33-mark of their match. Neumiller fell in the third round
The Hayden Tigers ended the season with a top-10 finish at states.
"We're pleased with the season we had," said Svoboda, Hayden's head coach.