Saturday, February 12, 2005
Wrestling has been a part of senior Matt Iacovetto's life since he was a child. Pee Wee tournaments gave way to middle school and, eventually, varsity wrestling at Soroco High School.
On Saturday, Iacovetto capped off a memorable career with a fourth-place finish at the 2005 Colorado State Wrestling Championships.
And he earned every step he took up the podium Saturday night.
Wrestling at 152 pounds, arguably the toughest weight class in 2A this season, Iacovetto had to defeat four seniors to place fourth. Had he beaten a fifth wrestler -- Meeker's Nick Ruckman -- he would have placed third.
What might have been was all he could think about Saturday afternoon.
"I know I wrestled well, but it's not how I wanted my last match to go," Iacovetto said.
Ruckman defeated Iacovetto, 5-4, behind several points that Soroco coaches and fans didn't necessarily agree with.
After neither wrestler scored in the first period, Iacovetto took the bottom position to start the second. He scored two points on a reversal after Ruckman was warned for stalling. Ruckman was given an escape in the final second at the mat's edge to close to within 2-1 after two.
Ruckman picked the down position to start the third period and got a reversal with 1:30 left in the third. He scored two back points on the move to take a 5-2 lead, but Iacovetto reversed off the near fall to put the score at 5-4.
In the top position for the final 40 seconds, Iacovetto was not able to turn Ruckman to get back points and win. Fans wanted stalling. Their wishes weren't granted.
But Iacovetto's final match isn't what Rams coach Doug Gates will leave the Pepsi Center remembering.
"He had the toughest weight class here," Gates said. "He just wrestled his heart out."
Partly because he was wrestling for two.
When senior Whit Gates went down with a season-ending shoulder injury in January, Iacovetto assumed responsibility for both of them. The pair had been together since the fourth grade, always at tournaments, always at practice, always wrestling each other.
"When he got hurt, I didn't have anyone to wrestle," Iacovetto said. "He said, 'You have to win for me.'"
Iacovetto went 33-10 this season. His final four victories were exceptional. After beating Antonito's Ryan Trujillo on Thursday, Iacovetto lost to junior Ross Brunkhardt of Merino on Friday. He staved off elimination Friday night, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon. He beat Nucla's Nevada Smith by decision and pinned Centennial senior Diego Mondragon and Akron senior Luke Crumley before losing to Ruckman.
Iacovetto's losses came by a combined two points.
Iacovetto had the pleasure of spending several years wrestling with his older brother, Josh, at the varsity level. Iacovetto said he sometimes wishes he had one year left, so he could wrestle with his younger brother Justin, who will be a freshman next season.
But the good news for those who have enjoyed watching the Iacovettos wrestle for the past eight years is that at least another one is coming.