Denver It's the second day of the state tournament that makes or breaks the dreams of the almost 900 high school wrestlers that have come to the Pepsi Center.
For Soroco's Josh Iacovetto, those dreams came true when he held on for a 10-8 win in the quarterfinals to guarantee a better finish than last year's third place.
Hayden's Tanner Copeland came into the tournament as a podium underdog, but was determined to win one match at a time. After a 3-2 win in the quarterfinals, Copeland's last match of his high school career will be for the state title.
But it was teammate Kelly Bruchez who suffered the most disappointing loss Friday as he dropped two matches to the same wrestlers that sent him out of the tournament last year. And senior Tiger Kevin Miller could not overcome one of the best freestyle wrestlers in the nation as he was pinned in the first period of his quarterfinal match.
Losing in the quarterfinals last year, Iacovetto said it was not going to happen a second time and that was the motivation he used to hold down Wiggins' Jacob Beydler in the final seconds of the quarterfinal match.
"I'm stoked," Iacovetto said of today's match for the 103-pound title.
With Iacovetto up 4-1 at the start of the second period, Beydler tied the score when he got an escape then went in for the takedown. But Iacovetto worked in a reversal, which Beydler escaped to put the match 6-5 at the end of the second.
In the bottom position, Iacovetto quickly worked a reversal, but a locked hands call on Iacovetto and then a Beydler escape brought Beydler within one point.
With the wrestlers on their feet, Iacovetto picked up Beydler and dropped him to the mat for the two-point takedown and a 10-7 lead. In the final minute, Iacovetto held on to Beydler to prevent the escape and secure the win.
In the semifinals, Iacovetto had a 6-2 lead coming into the third period when he was caught off guard by Limon's Shane Richie. Iacovetto started off the final two minutes by escaping from the bottom position, but was then taken down by Richie, which put the match at 7-4.
Richie was able to tie it at 7 after he put Iacovetto in a headlock and turned him to his back for three more points. Iacovetto fought to get off his back and turned the match in his favor with a reversal. After an escape by Richie, Iacovetto sealed his berth in the quarterfinals by adding on three more back points and ending the match up 12-8.
Copeland will join Iacovetto today in the championship round of the state tournament.
Coming into the third period down 2-0, the 215-pounder tied the match with Cheyenne Wells' Dustin Steelman when he stood up from underneath and worked his legs around for a reversal. With less than 20 seconds left in the match, Steelman was called for stalling, which gave Copeland a one-point advantage.
With Steelman on the bottom, Copeland held on to him to run off the clock and advance to the championship round.
In the semifinal round, Copeland recorded a technical fall over Peyton's Eddie Borgen, who was 33-3 coming into the tournament. Wrestling aggressively from the start, Copeland did not let Borgen get in a point as he worked his way to a 15-0 win.
At 171 pounds, Miller lost his chance to vie for the state title when Crowley County freshman, Torben Walters, caught Miller's legs in a grapevine hold to pin him in 57 seconds. One of the top- ranked freestyle wrestlers in the country, Walters' pin will have Miller wrestle in today's consolation round.
After losing to Sargent's Chance Parsons twice this season, Miller guaranteed himself a state place with a double overtime win in the semifinal round. Tied at four at the end of the second period, Miller took the bottom position in hopes of getting an escape to tack on the winning point.
Eight times in the two-minute period, Miller tried to work his way out of Parsons' hold, but each time was pushed out of bounds. In the last 10 seconds, Parsons was cautioned twice for stalling and the match ended in a 4-4 stalemate.
After losing two points for stalling in regulation, Miller said going into overtime he was focused on not letting that cost him the match.
In the first round of overtime, the wrestlers stayed on their feet to keep the match even for one minute. Going into double overtime, Miller took bottom and tried for another escape. With just four seconds into the 30-second overtime, Parsons was called for stalling which gave Miller the point he needed to win.
"(Miller) wrestled smart," Tigers coach John Svoboda said.
For the second year in a row, Hayden's Bruchez's state tournament dreams were foiled by Peyton's Lee Fairbanks and Trevor Kerr. After a loss to Fairbanks sent Bruchez out of the tournament last year, Bruchez dropped a 16-8 match to Fairbanks Friday, which put him out of contention for the championship round.
Down by just one point coming into the second period, the 152-pounder was caught on Fairbanks' grapevine hold, which put him on his back and down 12-6. The second period ended 16-8, after Bruchez worked in a reversal, but was taken down by Fairbanks, who added on two more back points.
In the final period, Fairbanks stalled on the bottom as Bruchez struggled unsuccessfully to turn him over for a pin.
"He caught me in a double grapevine and that cost me points right there," Bruchez said.
In the second round of consolations, Bruchez lost 9-2 to Kerr, the wrestler who put him out of last year's championship brackets. On Friday, Bruchez broke a scoreless stalemate in the second period when he escaped from Kerr. After an escape, Bruchez was taken down and caught on his back as Kerr ended the period up 7-2. Kerr secured the win in the final two minutes when he got another takedown.
In 4A action, Will Zimmerer kept Steamboat's hopes alive when he won, 8-3, in his first-round constellation match against Widefield's Preston Cannedy. Down two points from a Cannedy takedown, Zimmerer chose the bottom where he worked in a reversal, rolled Cannedy over and went for a pin. That series gave Zimmerer a 5-2 lead, which he added to in the third period with three more back points.
"I saw him wrestle last night and saw that he didn't move much. I'd figure I'd outmaneuver him, but I didn't think I'd get that many back points," Zimmerer said.
But in one of the last matches Friday night, Zimmerer lost a close match in the third period to Windsor's Steve Bomhoft.
After dropping matches to top-ranked wrestlers in the semifinals, Soroco freshman Matt Iacovetto and Whittier Gates are still in the chase for a state place. At 112 pounds, Iacovetto beat North Park's Matthew Wofford 7-2 in the second round of consolation. Gates also advanced out of the second round of consolations when he pinned Wiggins' Nick Klausner in the second period.
In the double elimination tournament, five area wrestlers lost their first two matches to exit the tournament early. Hayden's 119-pounder Jake Booco, 160-pounder Riley Whiteman and 189-pounder Clayton Neumiller, along with Soroco's 135-pounder Brandon Ager and 152-pounder Tyson Gilleland did not make it past the first round of consolation matches.