Routt County wrestlers looking for regional success, invitations to state
February 7, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Colorado State High School Wrestling Championships will grab all the headlines a couple of weeks from now in Denver, but for many athletes across Northwestern Colorado, the biggest meet of the season will begin Friday in Delta and in Englewood.
"If you don't perform at regionals, you don't make it to state; nothing else matters," said Soroco coach Jay Whaley. "The better you perform at regionals the better your matchup is at state."
Whaley will be taking 10 wrestlers from Soroco to the regional meet in Delta Friday. He will be joined by Hayden coach Chad Jones, who will be taking eight wrestlers to the regional meet, which begins at 5 p.m. and continues all day Saturday.
Both coaches agree that the meet features powerhouse teams like Cedaredge, Paonia, Hotchkiss and Norwood.
"I have mixed emotions about it," Whaley said. "We have always been in the toughest regionals — the good thing is that it kind of gives our kids a little bit of confidence. They know that they made it through a tough region, and then they think they can make it at state."
Steamboat will be sending eight wrestlers to the regional meet at Englewood High School on Friday and Saturday, and coach Travis Bryant is optimistic about his athletes’ chances.
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Soroco takes high hopes, veteran squad to Delta
Jace Logan and Sky Carlson will lead the way for a group of 10 wrestlers from Soroco High School hoping to punch their tickets to state.
Carlson, a senior, is undefeated this season and ranked No. 1 in the 220-pound weight class in just his second year in the sport. Last year, he advanced to the semifinals in the 195-pound class before losing to the eventual state champion, Jason Murphy of Joma.
"He's a recovering basketball player," Whaley jokes. "He's on a mission this season."
But getting to the big dance will not be easy for Carlson. Whaley said the senior wrestler will face the top five ranked wrestlers this weekend.
Jace Logan is also the top-ranked wrestler in his division. The 170-pound senior will also be looking forward to a return to state after finishing second at 152 pounds last year, just one win away from the title.
This weekend, the Rams will also be represented by freshman Darrel Ebaugh at 113 pounds, sophomore Gene Bracegirdle at 120 pounds, freshman Michael Boleng at 126 pounds, Kody Logan at 132 pounds, sophomore Jonathan Jerome at 152 pounds, junior Jesse Amrein at 160 pounds, sophomore Tristan Singer at 182 pounds and senior Erik Shafer at 285 pounds,
Unfortunately, the Rams lost senior Dalton Ray for the season Tuesday night after he broke his collarbone in practice. Whaley said the injury is devastating for the senior, who looked to have a solid chance at qualifying for the state meet for the very first time.
Hayden squad hopes to get through the door
Nobody has a better perspective on how tough this weekend’s regional meet is than 170-pound sophomore Hunter Planansky.
Last year, he finished fifth at the meet, one spot away from the state-qualifying bid he has been working so hard to earn. The four wrestlers that finished in front of him ended up taking the top four spots on the awards podium when the state finals at the Pepsi Center came to an end.
"I think our region is just like the state wrestling tournament,” his coach Chad Jones said. "We have all of the top teams in the state in our region, and things get pretty tough, pretty quick."
This weekend, Planansky and his teammates will be looking to break into the top five at the regional meet in Delta and extend their season by one more week.
Hayden will be represented by freshman Payton Planansky at 106 pounds, junior Taylor Powell at 113 pounds, freshman Wyatt Murphy at 120 pounds, senior Garrett Murphy at 126 pounds, senior Wade Hendricks at 132 pounds, freshman Keenan Hayes at 138 pounds, senior Jake Planansky at 145 points and sophomore Hunter Planansky at 170 pounds.
"They are all healthy, and we are just hoping for the best," Jones said. "We just want to go down there and get after it."
Steamboat heads to Denver with hopes of securing regional titles
On Friday, eight members of the Steamboat Springs wrestling team will head to Denver looking to take the first steps in a journey they hope will lead to state titles.
"Looking at the regions across the state, I think we are sitting pretty as far as getting our guys in and having a region that we can compete in," Sailors coach Travis Bryant said. "I think we are going to do well. Unfortunately, we only have eight weights that we are going to fill."
Leading the charge for the Sailors will be sophomore Spencer Mader at 120 pounds, sophomore Tucker Havel at 126, senior Mohammed Alnajdawi at 132, senior Kyle Spognardi at 138, Lance Bryant at 145, junior Austin Ban at 152, senior Hayden Johnson at 160 and sophomore John Slowey at 195.
Bryant said he expects several of the Steamboat Springs wrestlers to open eyes this weekend a the regional meet and he thinks several have a good chance of qualifying for the state meet.