Middle Park has two medalists at state meet
Sky-Hi Daily News Sports Correspondent
The Middle Park High School Panthers wrestling team sent four wrestlers to the Colorado state wrestling tournament this season and brought home two medalists.
Coach Cal Cherrington said the four wrestlers, Brandon Strang, Brian Macchione, Nate Birdseye and Shelby Garrett all competed well and each had a measure of success at the tournament. The team finished 16th out of 48 schools, which was an improvement over the previous season.
Strang, who wrestles at 103 lbs. finished fourth in the touranment and Macchione, a 189 lb. competitor, grabbed a third place finish. Birdseye,, a 152 lb. wrestler, just missed finishing in the top six at the tournament and Garrett was able to upset the top-seeded competitor in the 145 lb. class.
Macchione entered the state tournament as the third-seed in his weight division. He compiled a 4-1 mark over the two-day event and was leading his semi-final match with Shay Hanson of Brush. A last second take down in that exciting dual went the wrong way for Macchione, however, and he missed a chance to wrestle in the finals. He recovered to win his consolation match over a Colorado Springs Christian wrestler to earn third place.
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In the 103 lb. division, Strang ran into the second-seeded wrestler in the quarterfinals and lost a tough match by a 4-2 score. Cherrington said it was an excellent match that could have gone either way.
Strang then ran off three straight victories and met Drew Romero from LaJunta. A last-second reversal gave the LaJunta grappler a 7-5 victory and Strang had to settle for fourth place.
Birdseye compiled a 2-2 mark at the tournament. Saturday night features the “heartbreak round” according to Coach Cherrington. In that round, the winning wrestler finishes in the top-six at state and the loser is out of the running. In that round, Birdseye lost, 5-1, to Hunter Gonzales of Valley.
Garrett has been battling injury most of the season and, according to Cherrington, has been fighting through a lot of pain. He lost in the first round, which set up a match against the top-ranked wrestler in his weight, who had been upset in his first round match. Garrett wrestled a great match and was able to pin his top-seeded foe in overtime. The tournament then ended for Garrett, who lost to James Price of Valley.
Cherrington said he is optimistic for the next season. The team has made great strides and returns good experience and depth. He is working on getting more kids out for wrestling and hopes to increase from the eight kids who were on the team this season.
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