Hayden It’s the kind of title that serves as a compliment and a reminder. At 3 p.m. Thursday, 224 Class 2A wrestlers will take to the mats at the Pepsi Center in Denver, all battling for the state championship in their weight classes.
Could Hayden senior Chad Terry be the best of the bunch who hasn’t already won a state championship?
He smiled Tuesday at the suggestion, recalling his previous trips to the tournament that’s been so great and so horrible to him.
“I’ve been there so many times and been so close,” he said with a pained laugh. “I guess I just keep hitting a brick wall, but I always gave it my all.”
Terry will wrestle this year at 145 pounds, and he’s undoubtedly one of the favorites in his bracket. He’s been deep in the tournament before, reaching at least the semifinals in all three of his previous trips to state.
He lost in the 103-pound finals on his first trip, a wide-eyed freshman on the wrong end of a grueling 1-0 match. He made the semifinals again a year later and seemed destined for another crack at a championship but gave up five points in the final 10 seconds of the match to lose, 7-6. He once again was a semifinalist as a junior, but a shoulder injury went from annoying to devastating in that match. It popped out of the socket repeatedly, and although he finished the match, he had no strength remaining and withdrew from the tournament.
Now, his final shot at that brick wall, at a championship, looms.
“He ranks up there with anyone,” Hayden coach Chad Jones said. “He’s what we consider our model for a wrestler. The way he wrestles on the mat, the way he can persevere and battle against any odds, that’s what we hope every kid will do.”
Terry is one of seven Tigers wrestlers headed to the tournament and one of a few with a good chance at making it three years in a row with a Hayden state champion.
Senior Nick Williams, at 138 pounds, is right in that discussion. His largest hurdle could come in a potential second-round matchup against top seed and once-defeated Adam Ortivez, of La Veta.
Juniors T-Lane Mazzola and Ryan Domson also said they’re happy with their draw.
Mazzola, second-place as a freshman before missing the meet last year because of sickness, opens against Dax Doyle, of Baca County. A tough bracket awaits, with the most difficult match likely awaiting in three-time champion Alex Pena, of Ignacio.
Pena picked up his second championship after beating Terry in that 10-second semifinal miracle.
Domson, meanwhile, missed out on his goal of placing in his first trip a year ago. He said Tuesday that he’s cautiously optimistic about his chances this go-around. He figures he’s one of the top three in his bracket and has as good a chance as anyone at breaking through for the title.
“I wanted to place last year, and I was one round away. I was pretty disappointed, but I want to do a lot better this year,” Domson said. “I want to win it, of course.”
The Tigers also are hoping for podium-worthy performances from sophomore Journey Vreeman, at 132 pounds and making his second trip, 120-pound sophomore Kaiden Decker, who pieced together his best tournament of the season to earn his first trip to state, and freshman Kent Miller, who has one of the best records in the 113-pound bracket.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com