Injury brings end to Ray’s wrestling season short of state championship appearance
February 13, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Dalton Ray has put in the hard work needed to earn a bid for the 2018 Colorado State High School Wrestling Championships, but his dream of competing there came to an end a little over a week ago.
"I knew pretty much, right there that I was done," Ray said of the moments after suffering a broken collarbone in practice just a few days before the regional championships were scheduled to start in Delta last week. "It happened at the end of practice, doing the same thing we have done a hundred times. It's no one's fault. We just have so much brute force going on that stuff tends to happen."
But that moment was the end of a journey that the Soroco High School senior began when he was in kindergarten and started wrestling as a peewee. For 14 years, Ray's quest has been to compete for a state title at the Pepsi Center.
This year, he seemed primed to get an invitation after going 20-5 in matches. He won a tournament in Oak Creek, was second in two other tournaments and placed fifth in another.
But last week as he was preparing for the regional tournament, he found himself in a bad position, and before he could make a move, he heard the bone break. He held out hope he would be able to wrestle in the regional tournament up until the time doctors showed him the X-ray that confirmed his season was over.
The news was devastating, but wrestling was not his first concern. Ray had enlisted in the Marine Corps a month ago, and he was concerned about his future beyond high school.
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"I've worked my butt off to get in there," Ray said. "I was worried that I was not going to be able to do that."
But then Ray also realized that this was his senior year, he was the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the region and state was now out of the picture.
"This was my shot, and now, I'm done," Ray said. "When I got the news from the doctors, I had a little bit of a pity party. But then I thought to myself ‘that's it, there is nothing you can do about the past.’ I have to get over it."
Ray will travel with the team Thursday to the Pepsi Center where he plans to cheer and encourage teammates Jace Logan (170 pounds), Sky Carlson (220 pounds) and Erik Shafer (285 pounds) as they make their way through the brackets of the 2A State Colorado High School Wrestling championships.
"I'm going to give all my support to them," Ray said. "I'm not pitying myself anymore. It's life. It happened, and now, all I can do is go down there and support them and tell them that they can do it — that they can win a state title."
His contributions to the team have not gone unnoticed, and his teammate Shafer said Ray’s presence on the mat is going to be missed.
“We are all getting a ‘high and tight’ haircuts for our senior Dalton,” Shafer said. “He broke his collar bone, so he can’t make it with us. So it’s kind of our tribute to him. It’s kind of our way of representing him at state.”