No matter where they stand at the end of the day, the important thing is that they stand. In a physically and emotionally draining sport that shows an athlete’s weaknesses and strengths and pushes his limits daily, each competitor can be proud that they stuck it out through all the pain and trials of the season.
The 2011 Utah State Wrestling tournament will hold a different memory for each individual wrestler, but Monticello High School fans will remember a year in which a mostly young and inexperienced team made many great accomplishments.
Fourteen Buckaroos made the trip to the state tournament to compete, with seven bringing home medals, and ten gaining valuable tournament experience that they will bring back to the team next season. As a team, the young MHS squad finished in third behind Altamont and Duchesne.
At the end of the day, Brian Robinson and CJ Cordasco stood atop the podium and claimed their moment of glory as they were crowned 1A State Champions.
Robinson, a sophomore, battled hard against a strong Duchesne opponent in the semi-final round, finishing with a big 11-5 victory to earn a spot in the finals. Under the spotlight on the center mat, he faced off against an Altamont senior.
Robinson had been in the same position his freshman season, and came up just short of a championship. He had no intention of finishing in second place this time.
Robinson battled hard through the first period, but couldn’t find a way to open a lead. He came from the bottom in the second period, and worked tirelessly to turn his opponent. As the time ticked away, Robinson put him on his back and worked for the pin, pushing with all his might as he saw the clock near zero.
The ref raised his hand to slap the mat a mere second before the buzzer sounded, sending Robinson and the large Buckaroo crowd into a frenzy of excitement celebrating the championship.
Senior CJ Cordasco won a state championship in 2010, so he knew how it would feel to have his hand raised again. It was something he planned and worked for all season long.
Cordasco cruised through his weight class, pinning both early opponents on his way to the finals, where he faced Chris Manzanares of Wayne. The two had met several times before, including the region championship the previous week, and at the 2010 state tournament, where Cordasco defeated Manzanares in the semi-final round leading to a championship for Cordasco and a third place medal for his opponent.
Manzanares came prepared to change the result, but Cordasco fought hard, staying one step ahead throughout the match, and earning an exciting 5-3 win.
Finishing with hard-earned second place medals are freshman Hunter Bowring and senior Coltan Musselman.
Bowring had an impressive first showing at the state tournament, winning with an exciting fall in the first round, and putting up a strong 6-1 win against the female phenom from Altamont in a pressure-filled match.
In the finals he faced the returning state champion, junior Jory Owens of Panguitch. Bowring battled well with the more experienced Owens, taking control in the early round, and putting him on his back several times but was unable to hold him there long enough to score points. In the end, Owens was able to gain control and defeat Bowring 10-2.
Musselman made his plan to return to the center mat for the championship match clear from the beginning. Winning both early rounds by fall in the first period sent him back to the finals for the fourth time in his career, hoping to add a second state championship to his medal collection.
Musselman faced Tanner Lewis of Duchesne. The match was intense as the two battled to near exhaustion for every point. With a 2-2 tie going into the third, Musselman earned a takedown to put him ahead as the time ran down. With only 30 seconds left in the match, Lewis mounted a final attempt at the win, getting a reversal and tying the score, but as the clock neared zero the worse case scenario happened and Lewis turned Musselman just long enough for a near fall count resulting in a heartbreaking 7-4 loss.
Bringing home a well deserved third place medal is senior Trevor Wagstaff. Coming in as the underdog in his first match was no deterrent for Wagstaff who put up a strong 18-8 win over his Duchesne opponent. A tough loss in the next round put him in the consolation bracket, where he battled back with a 9-0 win. In the consolation finals, the match remained close until the end when Wagstaff dug deep and found the strength to finish strong in a 14-8 victory.
Junior Tim Ryan and senior John Mayne each brought home fourth place medals from the tournament.
Ryan came ready to wrestle and made it clear in his first match, pinning his opponent in only 18 seconds. Ryan put up a great effort in the next round, but it wasn’t enough to put him in the finals.
In the consolation bracket he fought back from the loss, winning with an exciting fall despite suffering a knee injury in the match. In the finals he battled hard but came up short in the loss.
Mayne had a tough loss in the first round, but showed great determination, winning his next two matches by fall to stay alive in the tournament and make it to the consolation finals, where he was defeated.
Austin Wilcox and Nephi Barlow came out strong for the Buckaroos with first round wins by fall, but losses in the next match sent them both to the consolation bracket. Wilcox came out strong but got in a position he couldn’t fight out of, resulting in a loss and ending his tournament. Barlow was forced to forfeit out of the tournament due to illness.
The first round was tough on Dailyn Warren, Roque DeAnda, and Jake Giles, as they each suffered a loss, but they battled back to win big matches in the next round. DeAnda and Warren won by fall and Giles earned a thrilling 3-1 victory.
Eric Anderson and Kelland Brewer each made their first appearance at the state tournament. They both wrestled strong and gave tremendous effort in their matches.
The Buckaroos lose four seniors, but look forward to the future with the remainder of this young and talented team.