After pinning both 2A Center's Cosme Cordova and 4A Grand Junction Central's Tiga Lundin, putting him into the semifinals, Jake Sandrey and the Bayfield Wolverines were riding higher at Pueblo Centennial's 2018 Bulldog Invitational than perhaps even they would have thought possible. The Wolverines were sitting in fifth place out of 21 teams.
But with the top prize in sight, that's when the hardest wrestling tends to begin.
Avoiding a collapse in the semis with a dominant 17-2 technical-fall win over 3A Gunnison's Zebuel Alexander, Sandrey finally met his match in the 145-pound division's championship bout. Almost able to resist long enough to see a second period and possibly find a second wind, Sandrey (21-6) was unable to wriggle out from beneath Braxton Montgomery (15-2) of Dumas, Texas, at the 1:56 mark.
Winning his first three matches at 138 before finding himself unable to fight out from underneath 4A Mead's unbeaten Jeremy Ashton (10-0) with just two seconds left in the first period, senior Garrett Beebe (21-5) left the Steel City also with second-place distinction.
One victory came in the semifinals where he held off Dumas' Gilbert Falcon 5-3, but the state champion Demons would ultimately earn the team title, their 213.5 team points on another level from Grand Junction Central's 154. 4A Pueblo South took third with 145.5, Cedaredge (#1 in On The Mat's Class 2A team rankings) was fourth with 144.5, and 4A Palisade rounded out the top five with 136.
Bayfield unluckily slipped out of the top 10 and came in 11th with 79 points.
John Foutz saw the most action of any of Roy Westbrook's Wolverines at the Invitational, winning four of six bouts. Three came after a quarterfinals loss to 2A Fowler's #1-ranked Dahlton McGhee. He finished fourth at 195 after losing 11-6 to 4A Colorado Springs Sierra's Donavin Bedburdick.
Sophomore Shane Moore unfortunately went 0-for-2 at 160 and 152-pounder Jason Schneider finished 1-2, as did freshman Trey McKee at 132, junior Colby Baker at 120 and freshman Dylan Pickering at 113.
McKee may have had the toughest opening draw of the group, and was a casualty of experience more than anything else; GJC's Dre Martinez pinned him in just 36 seconds, and would later finish the tournament a by-rule fourth-placer, dinging his record to 28-4 while McKee checked out at 5-9.
Junior Daniel Westbrook would have stepped onto the mat five times at 220 but, like Martinez, had to concede a by-rule victory to 2A Pueblo Dolores Huerta Prep's Dante Molina in the fifth-place bout, leaving the Wolverine with a 1-3 meet record and an updated 21-7 mark for the season.
Up next for BHS will be the Wolverines' Intermountain League dual, their first home action this winter, versus Monte Vista on Thursday, followed by the Jan. 19-20 Sand Devil Classic in Page, Ariz. 2018 PUEBLO CENTENNIAL BULLDOG INVITATIONAL STANDINGS: 1.Dumas (TX) 213.5, 2.Grand Junction Central 154, 3.Pueblo South 145.5, 4.Cedaredge 144.5, 5.Palisade 136, 6.Pueblo Centennial 111, 7.Falcon 106.5, 8.Fowler 98.5, 9.Colorado Springs Air Academy 98, 10.Mead 79.5, 11.BAYFIELD 79, 12.Taos (N.M.) 69, 13.Colorado Springs Rampart 41, 14.Swink 40, 15.Pueblo Dolores Huerta Prep 28, 16.Colorado Springs Sierra 26, 17.Highlands Ranch Rock Canyon 24.5, 18.Colorado Springs Harrison 20, 19.Gunnison 12, 20.Colorado Springs James Irwin 11, 21.Center 2.