Soroco senior Tristan Palyo faces down former teammate Josh Baker, now wrestling for Merino, on Thursday at the state wrestling tournament in Denver. Palyo pulled a major upset in the match, winning 5-3. He was one of five local wrestlers to advance to Friday's quarterfinals in the three-day tournament.
Soroco's Tristan Palyo among 5 locals in state wrestling quarterfinals
Denver Editor's note: The headline has been changed to reflect that Tristan Palyo is among a group of five Routt County wrestlers advancing in the state tournament.
Soroco senior Tristan Palyo is about as cool a customer as they come, so when he started his wrestling season with back-to-back losses, he didn’t panic.
When he steadily improved throughout the season, he didn’t let up. And on Thursday, when he won the biggest match of his career — an eye-popping upset that doesn’t come close to being summed up by the fact Palyo was 17-15 this season and his opponent was 22-4 — he did what few else could: He took it in stride.
Palyo outsmarted and outwrestled his former partner, Merino’s Josh Baker, who transferred from Soroco after the past school year.
Palyo did well to avoid giving big points to the more nimble Baker early in the match but still trailed 3-0 midway through. He made up for that in a hurry by racking up two points for a reversal and two more for a near-fall late in the second period. Baker then let Palyo escape midway through the third, banking on his ability to notch a match-tying takedown.
Despite a tense final 30 seconds, that never happened, and Palyo marched onward.
“He controlled the match on his feet,” Soroco coach Jay Whaley said. “Tristan wrestled smart.
“This was bittersweet because I’ve spent nearly as much time working with Josh as I have Tristan, but that was the best match Tristan as ever wrestled. I’m glad he came out on top.”
Palyo joined Hayden’s T-Lane Mazzola, at 126 pounds, Nick Williams, at 138, Chad Terry, at 145, and Ryan Domson, at 182, in the quarterfinals, which begin at 10 a.m. Friday.
Hayden’s wrestlers are in the same round, but didn’t get there with nearly as much drama.
Mazzola, Terry and Domson all beat their opponents with lighting-quick, first-round pins.
Williams, meanwhile, took more time to enjoy his return to the state tournament mats.
He added points slowly at first and then fast late in the match with his score spinning upward in the third period like the dials in a slot machine.
He finally won, 15-3.
“Those are my four horseman, and they were ready,” Hayden coach Chad Jones said. “They all looked good.”
Williams, who last qualified for the tournament as a sophomore but missed all of last season with an injury, will have to be at his best Friday. He opens against Adam Ortivez, a three-time state champ who advanced Thursday with a first-round pin.
“That felt good,” Williams said. “I was a little nervous when I got out there, but I controlled him and got him where I wanted him.”
Elsewhere, a trio of Hayden wrestlers and Soroco’s Lauryn Bruggink struggled against tough competition. Journey Vreeman, the Tigers’ sophomore 132-pounder, came the closest to breaking through. He trailed 2-1 in the waning seconds and then gave up two more points as he desperately tried to make something happen, falling, 4-1.
Kaiden Decker and Kent Miller were pinned in their state debuts.
“Kent, he’s a freshman, and he was a little shell-shocked. Hopefully, he’ll come back and wrestle well,” Jones said. “Kaiden, he wrestled well and was in it.”
Bruggink, meanwhile, was pinned in the first period of her 106-pound bracket match against Daniel Walsh, the defending champ in the division. Bruggink appeared to have connected on a shot early, rocking Walsh back on his heels. The Burlington sophomore bounced right back, however, and quickly put Bruggink on her back, popping her shoulder out of socket in the process. She shouted in pain as Walsh finished the pin.
All four will get a chance Friday in the first round of the consolation bracket.
Sailors’ Parks a point short
Steamboat Springs junior Nathan Parks said a little of the excitement lingered, as did some disappointment. More than anything, though, it was determination that persisted following his wild 14-13 loss in the opening round of the Class 4A state wrestling tournament in Denver.
“I’m not done here,” he said defiantly, surveying the 10 mats and the rampant action that filled the floor of the Pepsi Center.
Parks fell behind early but rallied to take the lead late in a match against senior Mike Hartling, of Lewis Palmer. In a match filled with momentum changes, Hartling had the most and the last, however, and he clung to the one-point lead as Parks desperately tried to notch one final takedown as time expired.
“It’s hard not to be disappointed after losing by one point, but I’m not going to let it drag me down,” Parks said. “I walked out there and I wasn’t ready for him to shoot right off the whistle the way he did. That was the difference in the match.”
Parks returns to action Friday in the first round of consolation wrestling. He will face Hunter Milner, of Air Academy, who lost his first-round match via technical fall, 15-0.
“It was a matter of mat time. A little more mat time and he wins that match,” coach Shane Yeager said. “It was a great experience for him. He just ran out of time. We’ll be back.”
Results for Class 2A state wrestling
106 pounds: Daniel Walsh, Burlington, pin Lauryn Bruggink, Soroco, 0:55
113 pounds: Garrett Seewald, Merino, pin Kent Miller, Hayden, 1:39