Granby " Six Panthers qualify for Colorado State High School Wrestling Championships |

Granby " Six Panthers qualify for Colorado State High School Wrestling Championships

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
Sky-Hi Daily News | Sky-Hi Daily News

Six Middle Park wrestlers ” Mitch Strang, Shelby Garrett, Joe Visconti, Brandon Strang, Nate Birdseye and Brain Macchione ” qualified for the Colorado State High School Wrestling Championships.

The tournament will take place beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

It was a good showing for the Panthers, who finished in fourth place in a field of 11 teams at the Class 3A Region No. 1 Tournament at Gunnison High School Feb. 14.

“For us to finish fourth without having four weight classes is a tremendous testimony to how hard these wrestlers have worked this season,” coach Cal Cherrington said. “We wrestled hard and we wrestled smart throughout the tournament. There is a lot on the line, which creates pressure for these kids.

“Everybody wants to make it to the state tournament, so the intensity is incredible. One minute everyone is elated as a young man wins a match to secure his spot at the state tournament and moments later everyone is deeply deflated when a loss brings on that finality.”

Olathe High School won the tournament, followed by Hotchkiss, Grand Valley, then Middle Park. Rounding out the field were Gunnison, Buena Vista, Classical Academy, Cedaredge, Coal Ridge, Salida and Lake County.

Three MPHS grapplers wrestled for the Regional Championship: senior Mitch Strang, 215; junior Shelby Garrett, 135; and senior Joe Visconti, 130.

Garrett, pinned his way to the finals by putting away his first two opponents, Mike Kerr of Buena Vista and Davit Witt of Grand Valley in short order. In the championship match Shelby faced off against Josh Roper from Gunnison. In a very tactical and defensive match Roper came out on top with a 2-0 decision.

Mitch Strang opened his tournament with a pin over Tanner Syzmanski from Gunnison, then in the semi-finals he defeated Jared Goad from Classical Academy in a wild finish. Trailing 3-1 going into the last 30 seconds of the final period, Mitch took Goad down to tie the match and then ran him over on to his back for two points as time ran out, giving him the victory.

Visconti scored a 18-2 tech fall over John White of Cedaredge in the quarter finals, then he made quick work of Tyler Hanson from Hotchkiss with a fall at 1:41 of the first period. In the title match Visconti faced-off against James Drinkhouse of Grand Valley High School. Despite a final score of 3-1, Visconti completely dominated the action with a quick first period takedown, followed by two periods of punishing riding. Visconti will carry a record of 36-3 into the state tournament, Garrett will sport a record of 14-4 and Strang will have a record of 26-14.

Qualifying through the consolation side of the brackets were sophomore Brandon Strang, 103; Junior Nate Birdseye, 152; and freshman Brain Macchione, 189.

In what was perhaps the toughest weight in the tournament, Brandon Strang finished in third place. Strang won his first match by fall and then was pinned by the eventual champion, Corbin Bennetts of Buena Vista. Brandon wrestled back into the third/fourth match where he won a very hard-fought six to two decision over Wyatt Yarnell of Olathe High School.

Nate Birdseye, started the competition with a narrow 4-2 decision over Nick Johnson of Hotchkiss. He was then pinned by eventual champion Kyle Piatt of Olathe. Nate turned it around with a 16-1 tech fall for Don Gocha of Gunnison High School before losing in the consolation finals to Ben Register of Classical Academy, 8-3, to finish in fourth place.

Macchione made his way to a fourth place finish to qualify for the state tournament. Brian pinned John Labato of Lake County to open his tournament, he then lost in a great overtime semi final match 9-7 to eventual champion Bradey Gasaway from Coal Ridge High School. In the wrestle backs, Macchione defeated Jason Hart of Grand Valley 7-2. He was then defeated by fall in the third/fourth match by JD Jiminez of Olathe. Macchione will sport a 15-13 record as he participates in his first state tournament, Nate Birdseye will take a 26-15 record to state and Brandon Strang will take a record of 29-13.

Eric Scholl, 145, went 2-3 on the weekend to finish in sixth place. Eric started the tournament strong pinning Bart Schieicher of Salida in 4:18 then he pinned Zach Roper of Gunnison at the 3:08 mark. Eric then lost to eventual champion Ryan Gallegos by fall in the semi finals. Kyle New from Buena Vista defeated Scholl in the wrestlebacks, sending Eric to the fifth/sixth match. There the Middle Park senior lost a very tough 5-3 decision to Zach Roper of Gunnison.

Senior Jared Cooper, 125, junior Jesse Johnson, 140, and sophomore Ricky Ramirez, 112, were unable to garner victories at the regional tournament.

“A special thank you to all the Middle Park High School parents and fans that made the long trip to Gunnison to support the wrestlers,” Cherrington said. “Next up is the Colorado State Tournament held over a three-day period starting Thursday, Feb. 9 in Denver at the Pepsi Center. Good Luck to each of the Panthers in their quest for a State Championship.”

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