10 Routt County wrestlers earn trips to state tournament | SteamboatToday.com

10 Routt County wrestlers earn trips to state tournament

Steamboat Springs High School senior Hayden Johnson is headed back to state after finishing in second place there each of the last two seasons.

A pack of 10 wrestlers from Routt County high schools is bound this week for the state wrestling tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Steamboat Springs High School qualified four wrestlers. Hayden is sending three and Soroco three.

At the top of the list for the Sailors is Hayden Johnson, a senior at 160 pounds who's seeking to return to the state finals for the third consecutive season. His previous two trips resulted in second place finishes, and he hopes to take that final step as a senior.

He cruised through his regional bracket to earn the trip back to state.

"He really was shining and really has a chance of making a run at state," Steamboat coach Travis Bryant said. "He dropped 10 pounds after Christmas, was a low (1)70-pounder, now an average-sized 60-pounder. He's fast, he's fluid at 160, and he wrestles well there. It's definitely his weight. Since he dropped, he has not lost a match."

Fellow senior Lance Bryant will also return to the state tournament at 145 pounds after he pinned his way through his regional bracket.

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"He had a slow start on the first night but got it done, pinned everybody," Travis Bryant said. "Took him time to get fired up, and the next day, he wrestled top-notch. Now, let's see if we can get him up on that podium at state."

Tucker Havel, at 126 pounds, and John Slowey, at 195, both sophomores, will also make the trip.

Havel powered his way into the regional finals before ending up with a second-place finish. Slowey racked up three pins and finished fourth to earn his trip.

"Awesome day for him. Three pins on the day and just a phenomenal difference from last year to this year," Bryant said. "He's really intelligent, getting better every day. I can't say how happy I am with him."

The Sailors also had a few near misses when it came to qualifying for state, which required a top-four finish in a weight class.

Spencer Mader at 120 pounds and Austin Ban at 152 both finished fifth, just short of their goal.

"Kind of a bittersweet performance for our boys," Bryant said. "Some stellar performances with our two firsts and a second from our sophomore, plus a fourth and two other places, but we still had some heartbreakers, too. I fully expected to take six, and we had the full capability of taking all seven. We ran into one of the oldest demons of wrestling, and that is self-doubt. It's such a fast-paced sport, and if you doubt your ability, it will happen. It proved to be an emotional roller coaster for me and the fans.”

Tigers loaded with young talent, Soroco with veterans

Hayden's three qualified wrestlers all placed third in their brackets, and the Tigers will be taking a young, talented team to Denver.

Payton Planansky, a freshman, made the cut at 106 pounds. Keenan Hayes, also a freshman, and Hunter Planansky, a sophomore, got there at 170 pounds.

It's the first trip to state for each of the team's qualifiers.

Soroco, meanwhile, is taking a pair of title contenders.

Jace Logan, a junior, will be back at state for the third time. He's finished second in each of his two previous trips. At 26-2 on the season, he'll be eyeing a championship at 170 pounds.

Sky Carlson, meanwhile, is hoping to cap what's been a powerful season with one last huge highlight. New to the sport a year ago, he's currently one of the state's top wrestlers, undefeated 35-0 at 220 pounds.

Erik Shafer also qualified for Soroco. A senior in his first year with the program, he will compete at 285 pounds.

Wrestling at state begins Thursday. The state semifinals are Friday evening, and the finals are Saturday evening.