Hayden Middle School wrestling coaches Ty Camilletti and Dallas Robinson know a thing or two about state championships.
Both won individual wrestling titles when they were in high school. Now, as they pass on their experience to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, Robinson isn't afraid to heap praise and expectations on the young Tigers.
"We want a team state title," Robinson said. "Hayden's never had one of those. This team, more than ever, has shown the promise to do that. They can achieve that and can achieve it in a really good way."
Judging from the results from Saturday's inaugural Colorado Middle School Championships at the Budweiser Event Center in Loveland, Robinson's expectations are well founded.
Led by seventh-grader T-Lane Mazzola's second-place finish and eighth-grader Chad Terry's sixth-place finish, Hayden completed an impressive weekend.
More than 600 wrestlers from 31 middle schools across Colorado participated, with no separate divisions.
"The kids did exceptional," Robinson said. "I was so proud of them."
Kaiden Decker, Austin Cless, Nick Williams, Mark Doolin and Nathan Mack also competed at the tournament, but didn't place.
Mazzola, who entered the tournament undefeated, fell to Valley's Emilio Martinez, 10-4, in the finals.
Martinez has won three national championships and is one more away from being considered a Rocky Mountain Nationals belt holder.
"It was a tight, very good match," Robinson said. "It was a great match regardless of what the score was."
Terry's fifth- and sixth-place match was tied through three periods. Robinson said Terry nearly had a takedown before his opponent picked up the win.
"In all of our matches, we were in them right up until the end. They all wrestled really well," Robinson said. "We really competed well against those bigger schools."
Competing with and against the bigger schools was what impressed Robinson the most. Since there were no classifications like there are in high school, Hayden competed against schools from Class 3A, 4A and 5A.
The biggest thing, Robinson said, was that Hayden's not too far away from any of those teams.
"I was extremely impressed with every one of the kids. They did really well," Robinson said. "They wrestled completely better than I thought they would. Wrestling against all those 5A schools, you would have never known."