Jake Doolin refused to release details when asked what fabulous hairstyle he was going to be wearing at this year's state wrestling tournament.
The Hayden junior has featured a variety of looks through the years, opting to shave off his Mohawk right before state last year on a bet. But the only information Doolin would divulge as he prepares for his third straight state appearance is that he has picked the cut.
"I've got a surprise," he said. "It will be ready."
Teammates Randy Muhme, a junior, and Jason Rolando, a senior, will join Doolin when the 69th annual State Wrestling Championships begin Thursday in Denver.
All three placed among the top four at last weekend's Region 2 meet in Grand Junction to book their trip to Denver for this weekend.
Doolin came in second behind Soroco's Matt Iacovetto. Rolando placed second as well, falling to Nucla's Derek Smuin in the finals. Muhme, a varsity rookie, fought off Paonia's Chris Kennedy to finish third.
"They showed heart," Tigers assistant coach Leif Jacobsen said. "They flat out didn't give up. Last week's practices were pretty good. They weren't lackadaisical, and they came to practice hard. It isn't a big surprise that those three are going."
There will be even fewer surprises at state for Doolin this time around. Last year, Doolin placed fifth at 130 pounds as a sophomore and finds himself on the more favorable bottom half of the 16-man bracket at 140 pounds.
Swink's Rob Marshall is the defending champ, and he, along with Wiggins' Craig Potthoff and Hilltop Baptist's Ryan Winters, are in the top half of the bracket with Iacovetto. Potthoff, Marshall and Winters are ranked in the top four in Class 2A as of Feb. 10, said Tim Yount, editor of On the Mat rankings.
Top-ranked Jordan Reid of Akron is the most likely candidate to prevent Doolin from making a run toward the finals in the bottom half.
Doolin wouldn't mind seeing Iacovetto in the 140-pound finals with a state championship on the line. Doolin and Iacovetto have beaten each other once this season.
"That would be a good one," Doolin said on the possibility of a Routt County final.
Doolin thinks the only advantage he holds as a former state qualifier comes Thursday when a rookie might not handle his first-match nerves well. Sargent sophomore Kye Fuston, Doolin's first-round opponent, is a state tournament rookie.
Muhme said there has been little discussion as to what he and Rolando should expect come state tournament time. Both are first-year state qualifiers, but neither enters untested.
Region 2 wrestlers and coaches believe their western region is the toughest in the state. Meeker and Nucla, the two teams favored to make a run at the team title in Class 2A, are members. Paonia is ranked among the top 10, as well.
Last year, Meeker won the team title convincingly, scoring 127 points to just 83 for Akron.
Meeker is sending 11 out of a possible 14 wrestlers to state this season. Nucla qualified eight, while Merino, another top team, is sending 12.
Merino's Jason Kailey is the top-ranked heavyweight in the state. If Muhme defeats Fowler's Taylor Hurd, a senior, in Thursday's first match, Muhme, who finds himself in the state tournament after his first season of high school wrestling, will get a crack at Kailey in the next round.
Rolando won't see top-seeded Torben Walters of Crowley County unless they meet in the 189-pound finals, but that doesn't mean Rolando's side of the bracket is any easier. His opening match is against Las Animas' Clint Myers, ranked third.
"I thought I had a chance (to make state this year) because I was beating some of the kids that went to state last year," Rolando said. "I know who my first match is, and I know that he's got a pretty good record. I don't think records are everything."
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail email@example.com