Two area wrestlers will be competing in the semifinals on Friday night at the Colorado High School Activities Association’s state wrestling tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Bayfield High School’s John Foutz and Daniel Westbrook each won their quarterfinal matchups on Friday morning in thrilling fashion.
Westbrook advanced in the 3A 220-pound weight class after he won a 3-1 decision over No. 2 seed Atsamaz Pliev (29-2) of Sierra, and got his points in the waning moments of the match. Tied at one point deep into the third period after each wrestler got an escape point, Pliev’s in the second, and Westbrook’s in the opening 30 seconds of the third, Westbrook made arguably the move of his storied career, as he was able to secure a two-point takedown with less than one second remaining in the match. After Westbrook was able to snake an ankle move that took both to the floor, he reached back, secured Pliev’s legs, got his arms around Pliev’s arms and once his arms were secured, so too was the takedown.
BHS head coach Todd McMenimen was thrilled with Westbrook’s grit down the stretch.
“At that point, it’s all about guts and heart,” McMenimen said. “We came up here for matches like that, and I think coach (Jerry) Sutherlin and I aged about 20 years in Daniel’s match alone. It was just amazing to see. Daniel knew what to expect coming in and just how the brackets shake out, you’ll usually face a top-four seed. (Pliev) was very strong, didn’t break stance and never opened up. So for Daniel to secure the takedown the way he did, it was remarkable.”
Immediately after the match, Sierra coaches tried to appeal the decision, saying that time had expired, but the referees concluded that the takedown happened with time remaining in the match.
Westbrook (34-4) was seeded at No. 7 in the tournament and could see two other top-three seeds, including Drew Book from Sterling and Cody Ponce of Eagle Valley. Austin Trujillo of Alamosa, the No. 4 seed who beat Westbrook in last week’s regional final, fell to Eli Smith of Salida in his quarterfinal matchup. Westbrook will face the No. 3 seed Ponce of Eagle Valley in the semifinals.
Foutz (38-5), the No. 3 seed in the 3A 195-pound weight class, pinned the No. 6 seed, Mitchell Peabody (10-12) of La Junta, just 20 seconds into the second period, at the 3:20 mark of the match.
Three of the top four seeds in the bracket advanced in the bracket, and a dark horse also made the semifinals in 12-seed Gauge Lockhart of Delta, who beat Foutz last year in the regionals and denied him a chance at state.
“For John, it was a huge weight lifted off of his shoulders,” McMenimen said. “If you win the quarters, it usually relieves some pressure because you’ve secured a podium spot. He wrestled really hard and was smart about when he attacked. Despite the round, and him being a first-timer, he looked composed out there and took care of business.”
Foutz will wrestle No. 2 seed Abe Leonard (33-2) of Elizabeth in the semifinals, which begins at 6:45 p.m. for all classifications.
Ignacio High School had two wrestlers compete in the 2A quarterfinals, but the results did not go their way.
Skieler Grooms (25-12) went the distance in the 138-pound quarterfinal but lost a 3-1 decision to No. 4 seed Santino Mendoza (33-12) of Rocky Ford. Grooms will head to the consolation bracket.
Dustin Sanchez (29-8) lost 8-0 in a major decision to No. 1 seed Cade Hillman (44-5) of Wray in the 160-pound quarterfinal. Sanchez will also continue to wrestle on the backside of the bracket. He finished sixth last year at state.
Ignacio had four other wrestlers competed in the first round of the consolation bracket, while Durango High School had two. IHS’ only winner came from Cesar Pedregon, who pinned William Anderson (3-25) of Hanover in just 15 seconds. He will wrestle Ty Hardesty (26-24) of Wray, who lost in the quarterfinals. Hunter Robbins (126) was eliminated by Dylan Armijo of Trinidad in an 8-7 decision. Clay Campbell (170) was pinned at the 2:20 mark of his first-round consolation match by Byron Shawcraft of Centauri. Finally, Randy Herrera (285) lost to Peyton Froman of Rocky Ford in an 8-5 decision and was also eliminated from medal contention.
Durango had one wrestler advance, as freshman Tyler Woodworth defeated Tiga Lundin of Grand Junction Central in the first round of the 4A 145-pound consolation bracket in an 8-6 decision. He will wrestle Kevin Hooks (39-10) in the second round of the consolation bracket on Friday night. Senior captain Paul Smagacz was pinned in his 138-pound first-round consolation match by Grayden Birdwell of Skyline at the 3:52 mark of the match.