Steamboat Springs sophomore Brandon Yeager and Soroco's Cody Constine grapple for position Thursday in a 182-pound match at the Routt County Triangular wrestling meet at Soroco High School. The pair fought one of the best matches of the night, 9-8, Yeager only logging the go-ahead point with a takedown with 10 seconds remaining in the third period.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Springs sophomore Brandon Yeager and Soroco's Cody Constine grapple for position Thursday in a 182-pound match at the Routt County Triangular wrestling meet at Soroco High School. The pair fought one of the best matches of the night, 9-8, Yeager only logging the go-ahead point with a takedown with 10 seconds remaining in the third period.

Routt County wrestlers grapple for regionals positioning

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— The Hayden High School wrestling won both of its duals Thursday, retaining a firm edge on its Routt County wrestling siblings, topping Steamboat Springs via a tiebreaker, 35-34, and Soroco via a commanding performance, 42-6.

“We didn’t wrestle as good as we did (Wednesday) night,” Hayden coach Chad Jones said, referring to a Wednesday dual in which the Tigers took six of eight contested matches. “But the kids were solid out there. We wrestled well.”

Mass forfeitures on all sides rendered those team scores nearly meaningless, however. The story of Thursday night’s country triangular wasn’t in overall team performances. Next weekend’s all-important regional tournament looms so near that its heat already is causing nervous athletes to sweat. Thursday’s action was about individuals trying to be perfect before the season’s key test.

Pretty close to perfect Thursday night was Soroco senior Lauryn Bruggink. A pioneer her freshman year and even more so as a sophomore, when she became the first girl to win a match at the state meet, Bruggink missed state as a junior amid an injury-ridden season.

She was exhausted Thursday after a pair of matches, but she was excited and nervous about her attempt to make it back to state.

“I have nothing to lose. I want to have fun and enjoy this,” Bruggink said.

Thursday, she rolled over a pair of opponents, going 2-0 on the night against Hayden’s 106-pounders. She won the official match in the dual against the Tigers with a pin, and she then won an exhibition, 9-1.

“I felt like I didn’t even really have a season last year. Now I realize time is counting down, and I want to enjoy myself,” Bruggink said. “This was fun. We had a home crowd. This is the last time I’ll ever get to enjoy that.”

Soroco senior Tristan Palyo put on a show of his own, going 1-1 on the night. His most impressive wrestling came with a first-period pin in a match with Steamboat’s Guerin Lewis at 145 pounds.

Later Palyo matched up with Hayden senior Chad Terry. Terry won a drawn out battle against Palyo a week ago, and the pair seemed to be in another war of attrition. Terry changed that in a hurry, however, ending the close match with a pin midway through the second period.

Jaxon Ovard also picked up a win for the Rams, securing a pin late in the third period against Steamboat’s Dylan Parsons.

“Chad, he won’t let you get by with a mistake, and that’s what happened in that second match. I made a small mistake,” said Palyo, who explained that the loss didn’t hurt his optimism. “My record might not say it, but I feel pretty good about myself. I’m confident. I’m going to peak right at the time I need to.”

Incomplete and small teams sucked some of the meaning from the Tigers’ team victories, but that’s not to say the team wasn’t dominant.

Wrestlers up and down the roster logged big wins in tough matches. Terry was 2-0 at 145 pounds. Koa Cash earned a pin against Steamboat, and Nick Williams, Journey Vreeman and Kent Miller won their only matches of the day.

Ryan Domson, meanwhile, won twice at 182 pounds, pinning his opponents in the first period both times.

“You can tell regionals are coming close. The kids are starting to prepare better in the room. They’re feeling the pressure,” Jones said.

Steamboat beat Soroco in their head-to-head dual, 34-26. The best match in that pairing came at 182 pounds, where Sailors sophomore Brandon Yeager logged a takedown with 10 seconds remaining to get by Soroco’s Cody Constine, 9-8. Connor O’Brien, Nathan Parks and Casey Williams all won while wrestling against Hayden, Parks and O’Brien with pins and Williams by a 13-2 decision.

“We had some guys that did wrestle really hard,” Steamboat coach Shane Yeager said, not hesitating to offer his critiques from his team’s last regular season action. “We weren’t aggressive, we wrestled flat and didn’t have enough fight. We’ll have to figure that out.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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