Hotchkiss 138-pounder Jesse Head was elated just to qualify for the state 3A wrestling tournament. He missed it last year, not because he couldn't qualify, but because of a wicked case of cauliflower ear.
His doctor wouldn't release him to wrestle.
To make it all the more sweet, it's his senior year, and twin brother Dustin, who wrestles at 152, also qualified.
But Jessie Head, who entered the tournament as the No. 8 seed, didn't quite imagine he'd pin his way to the finals and walk in Saturday night's Parade of Champions.
"I'm not trying to be down on myself," said Head after upsetting the No. 3 seed from Sterling to win in the semifinal round on Friday, "but I thought I'd be out tonight because I was wrestling the state champion."
After a first-round win over Lamar, Head came up against Jared Mestas in the quarterfinals. Mestas, the No. 1 seed and defending state champion from Dolores-Huerta, came in with an intimidating 37-1 record.
"I went out there with my adrenaline running, my nerves, and I had to put it away," said Head.
Seconds into the match, Mestas put Head onto his back, landing on Head's chest and scoring two takedown points. But in an instant, Head scored a reversal and sprawled out across Mestas' chest. Then he held on while Mestas struggled with all his might to escape.
"He was getting close," said Head. "I knew that I was tiring him out as he was bridging. I just had to hold him down, squeeze as hard as I could."
Almost 50 seconds later, Head had unseated the state champ.
"We had one shot, one shot," said head coach Glen Suppes, describing how Mestas started to roll out early on and had enough strength to bridge with Head riding him. "A lot of times when they bridge that high, the guy in control will let go a little bit" and give his opponent a chance to get away. But Head never let up.
Head did a repeat reversal maneuver, upsetting the No. 4 seed from Sterling to win in the semifinals. "I knew that I had to go to my move that I've been working on over the years," said Head, referring to a maneuver he learned from an assistant coach. "I knew I had to perfect it. We call it the Trailer Park."
Meanwhile, No. 2 seed Joe Boyle had a first-round 15-0 win, then pinned 20-3 Zacharia Garcia of Florence and 11th-seeded Dillon Vance of Alamosa to advance to Saturday night's finals.
Boyle, who wrestled 1-2 at last year's tournament, made a mistake against Garcia that almost cost him the match, but he was able to recover. "It's amazing to see how far he's come," said Suppes of Boyle. "Kids underestimate him."
This year is going better, said Boyle after defeating Vance. "Getting it done kind of fast, staying good, not putting myself in a bad position too often," he said with a laugh. In all the excitement, Boyle lost track of the rounds. "Where am I at right now?" he asked before learning he would finally face top-ranked Jason Buhr of Centauri in the finals. The two had never met. They were scheduled to wrestle at the Center tournament, which Boyle won, but Buhr was injured and forfeited.
Suppes said he can't remember a time when Hotchkiss sent two wrestlers into the finals. Both were pinned to place second. Head ended his senior year with a 26-6 record and Boyle finished at 35-4.
The Bulldogs qualified seven for state. Jake Hubbell (106) and Tony Ibarra (160) wrestled two and out. Garrett Toothaker (113), Dustin Head (152) and Zack Taylor (285) opened with wins, then lost in quarterfinals and first-round consolation.
Jesse Head said he was proud to share his final state experience with his brother. The Head brothers were the only twins at this year's tournament. "I told him I love him and I'm happy I got to wrestle all my life with him," said Head, who was also proud to walk in the Parade of Champions with his brother, Mike Vetter, a custodian at Hotchkiss High School. After unseating Mestas, Jesse headed for the stands to see Vetter and his family.
Hotchkiss earned 60.5 points to place 10th; Olathe was ninth with 63 points.
"Those kids that lost, they put in every bit as much work as Joe and Jesse," said Suppes. "What a roller coaster. We lost some good wrestlers in that consolation round tonight ... There is no forgiveness in this sport. None whatsoever."blog comments powered by Disqus