Photo by Tamie Meck Wrestling at 152 pounds, Paonia’s Zach Milner, bottom, controls Brendon Beck of Hotchkiss. Paonia won the dual, held Jan. 17 at Paonia, 68-12. Hotchkiss was open in four weights, and had pins at 138 and 145.If last week's dual at Paonia had opened at a different weight, things may have gone differently for Hotchkiss. But Jesse Head opened the dual at 138 pounds with a pin over Gunner Chesnik.
"He was a little tougher than I thought," said Head, who is undefeated at 138. "I had to work hard, but I came out on top."
Joe Boyle was up next, scoring a pin over fifth-ranked Ty Coats for a win at 145 pounds. Coats' style is much like that of a former teammate, said Boyle. "So I've got lots of practice against that." Boyle put Coats on his back early on when he short set. "When he did it again, I was ready."
The opening matches were the only wins for the Bulldogs, but they set the tone for the rest of the team, said head coach Glen Suppes.
"It's a great dual for us," said Suppes. Paonia is the No. 1-ranked team in the state. "For us to get a chance to dual them, you always want to wrestle the best. We wrestled the best."
Had the dual started off with a loss, said Suppes, the tone may have been much different. But with all the kids psyched up, "Everyone wrestled hard enough to give themselves a fighting chance."
The Eagles pinned their way through the remainder of the dual, with most matches ending in the first round. No. 1-ranked heavyweight Tony Darling scored a second-round pin over Zack Taylor with 4 seconds remaining in the second round. It was the first match of the season for Taylor, who was recovering from a football injury.
"I know he's a good wrestler and will probably be a state champion this year," said Taylor, who was satisfied with his performance. "I knew that I just wanted to wrestle him hard."
Paonia won the dual, 42-12. The Bulldogs were missing wrestlers due to illness.
Hotchkiss was open at 106, 113, 120 and 170 pounds.