According to a school banner, the last state champion wrestler for Cedaredge was Mark Brown. That was 35 years ago, said head coach Cutter Garrison. Last Saturday night the Bruins broke the dry spell when freshman Trey Geyer and sophomore Sean Dale won titles at 120 and 126 pounds, respectively.
"That's a big thing for Cedaredge," said Garrison. "Back to back! It was a lot of fun."
Geyer, who wrestles at 120, was seeded fifth. He knew coming into the season that he had a shot at making the top four at state. In Saturday night's championship match, Geyer won by a 16-3 major decision over Jacob Pelloni of Meeker. Having beat him three times this season, Geyer said he knew his odds were good. "It gave me a little more confidence, knowing I had wrestled him before."
Dale, who placed fourth in state his freshman year, was seeded first and won his first three matches by fall, technical fall and major decision. In the championship match he faced second-seeded freshman Junior Arambula. Looking at his 38-5 record, Dale said he knew Arambula would put up a fight. "Coming in as a freshman he probably has some nerves," said Dale.
Dale scored first and held on for a 2-0 win. He credited his ability to keep Arambula from scoring to his coaches, hard work and Geyer. "I have a great partner in Trey," said Dale.
Cedaredge placed five wrestlers and scored 109 points to finish fourth in Class 2A. Rocky Ford was ranked first and placed third. Wray, which Garrison called "The Purple Monster," surprised everyone by scoring 197 points to win the team title. "Like us, they're a young team too," said Garrison. "They're well coached and Matt Brown does a good job... That's what makes this tournament so fun."
Cedaredge lost six of 11 wrestlers in Saturday's consolation rounds. "We came out a little bit flat when we needed to be up for it," said Garrison.
While seniors Alex McCracken (132), a four-year state qualifier, David Schipmann (138), Colton Hoerr (152) and Jared Hulteen (160) didn't place, each scored points for the team.
At 106 pounds, freshman Sam Campbell was 0-2, and freshman heavyweight Derek Sanchez was 2-2 for the tournament and pinned two competitors to score eight team points.
Of the three other placers, freshman Adrien Nieto placed fourth at 113 pounds and ends the season with a 25-6 record. In semifinals Nieto lost by a point to a 24-4 sophomore and 2017 state runner up, then won by decision to advance to the third-place match. "He's young," said Garrison. "It's gonna happen for him."
In his first state tournament, junior Taj Van der Linde (220) was seeded 12th and placed sixth. Van der Linde opened the tournament with two solid wins, then lost by pin to Paonia senior Jaden Miller in semifinals.
Miller was wrestling up from 182. "That kind of hurt," said Van der Linde, especially since Miller jumped from 182 to 220 in time for the regional tournament.
In consolation semis Van der Linde was tied, 5-5, with Wray, but lost momentum, resulting in a 10-5 loss. Wrestling for fifth, he said, he was more focused and pinned 26-8 Brayden Dillingham of Calhan in the first round. "Next year," said Van der Linde, who ends the season at 34-10.
Junior Toby Waddell, who was seeded 12th, wrestled back to sixth place.
After opening on a loss Garrison told Waddell to show him what he's got. In his first consolation match Waddell pinned his opponent from Akron in 15 seconds, making it the shortest match in Class 2A.
Waddell then worked his way to consolation semifinals on a 7-5 decision over Wray and a technical fall over Sedgwick County/Fleming.
That was a big step for Waddell, said Garrison. "He battled and battled."
After coming off of a regional team championship and looking to a promising state tournament, Garrison said that after the consolation and third and fifth place rounds were over, he was asking himself what happened.
Then came the two championships. Garrison said he started looking to next year, and recalling his first tournament four years ago when Cedaredge brought four wrestlers to state.
In looking at next year, said Garrison, there's a lot to work with. All five placers and two state qualifiers will be eligible to return next season.
"That's what's great about this sport," said Garrison. "There's ups and downs."