Hayden Coach Dallas Robinson had nothing but praise for his middle school wrestlers, their parents and the community of Hayden, following the official completion of the wrestling season.
For the first time in "a long time" a Hayden team -- middle school or varsity -- took first place at a tournament.
The Tigers accomplished that feat at the East Grand Tournament, defeating 15 teams including Moffat County, Robinson said.
"It was amazing to see how they pulled the town together," Robinson said of his team. "The season went excellent. We had a great coaching staff this year. The faculty and the school really helped out a bunch, and the parents were supportive. These kids were a class act."
Robinson started with 30 wrestlers and finished with 27. There were nine wrestlers each in sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grades out this season.
Robinson said the sixth- and seventh-graders practiced and wrestled well, while the eighth-graders should be an excellent addition to the high school team next season.
"The only teams we had trouble with were Moffat County and Meeker," Robinson said. "We actually put up a good fight and it was always a race to see who won. For our grand finale at the East Grand Invitational, we took first. The kids got their first first place, so it was really nice."
Although the regular middle school season is over, nine wrestlers have opted to continue wrestling competitively and travel to the Southwest Regional Tournament in Grand Junction on Friday. The meet was formerly known as the Colorado Kids State Tournament.
"People aren't ready to see them stop," Robinson said. "We've got a good trend starting here."
Dakota McCarty (70), Zed Wheelock (70), Mitchel Doolin (85 pounds), Jordan Williams (100), Ryan Youell (100), Coy Letlow (110), Andy Bennett (115), Dustin Jones (120) and Paden Morehead (125) will be in the state tournament field this weekend.
The one-month middle school season isn't long enough to do what Robinson said he would like to do, so the decision to extend a wrestling season is an important one to make.
"It turns a kid from night to day," he said. "Competition, other than a partner, is really where they start to excel. The kids that extend the season and freestyle throughout the summer, it makes all the difference in the world."
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