Middle Park wrestlers take on Hotchkiss, Cerdaredge
Middle Park wrestlers traveled to Buena Vista on Jan. 23 to take on the sixth-ranked Hotckiss Bulldogs and the Cedaredge Bruins in a double dual.
“The match with Hotckiss was full of great matchups with the Panther’s coming out on top in five of the nine matches wrestled,” coach Cal Cherrington said. “In the end Hotchkiss came out ahead on the scoreboard 39 to 25. Once again Middle Park’s inability to fill all 14 weight classes provided proved to be the difference in the match.
“We gave them 24 points in forfeits, which is tough to overcome.” the coach added. “We beat them on the mat, however, and that was a lot of fun.”
Individually the Panthers turned in some outstanding performances in the Hotchkiss dual. Brandon Strang, 103 pounds, pinned his opponent at the 2:40 mark. Joe Visconti, 130 pounds, won by major decision, 10 to 1. Shelby Garrett, 135 pounds, pinned his opponent in 55 seconds. Jesse Johnson, 140 pounds, won by fall with 1 second remaining in the 1st period. And Nate Birdseye, 152 pounds, won a hard fought 6-3 decision.
Eric Scholl, 145 pounds, in his first varsity action of the season, wrestled a very tough match but came up short losing by fall at the 5:07 mark. Brian Macchion also wrestled extremely well despite losing a hard fought 4-2 decision at 189 pounds. Jared Cooper, 125 pounds, and Mitch Strang, 215 pounds, both lost by fall to round out the match.
Cedaredge High School was up next for the Middle Park Grapplers.
“This time the 24 forfeit points would not be enough to prevent a Middle Park victory,” Cherrington said. “The Panthers totally dominated on the mat winning six of the eight matches wrestled.”
Shelby Garrett, 135, got the ball rolling pinning his opponent at 1:28, next Jesse Johnson, 140, was pinned to even the score. Eric Scholl, 145, would put the Panthers back on top with a fall early in the second period.
Nate Birdseye, 152, would extend Middle Park’s lead with a dominating 16-1 technical fall. Cedaredge regained the lead by one point with forfeits at 160 and 171 pounds, then Brian Macchione pinned his opponent at 189 pounds to once again give Middle Park the lead by five.
Brandon Strang, 103, made quick work of his opposition with a fall at 39 seconds in the first period. With a lead of 11 points, a forfeit at 119 pounds would narrow the lead to five once again. Jared Cooper, 125, faced off with highly ranked opponent. Despite a valiant effort he was pinned in the match giving Cedaredge a one-point lead going into the final match of the dual. Joe Viscont, 130, would seal the victory with a 16-1 technical fall, giving the Panthers a 40-36 victory.
Jim McCall Invitational Tournament
On Jan. 24 the Panther Grapplers traveled to the Jim McCall Invitational Tournament held at Lake County High School in Leadville. Florence High School won the tournament followed by Hotchkiss, Grand Valley, Rocky Ford, Buena Vista, Gunnison, Middle Park, Cedaredge, Antonito, Lake County, Centennial, Battle Mountain, Sargent, Sangre de Cristo, and Mountain Valley.
“We set a goal of scoring in the 90 point range as a team,” Cherrington said. “We ended up in seventh place with 92.5 points. If we win two more matches on the day that would have moved us up to 5th place. The point is, every match counts.”
Five Middle Park matmen finished in the medals.
Joe Visconti continued to hammer his competition with three victories on the day, one by fall and two by technical fall, in route to the title at 130 pounds. Brian Macchione, a freshman at 189 pounds, had a great day reaching the championship match. Brian pinned his first two opponents but was defeated in the title match by a Florence opponent.
Mitch Strang, 215, finished third on the day. His only loss came to the No. 1-ranked 215-pounder in the state in the semi-final round. Brandon Strang, 103, finished fourth in the toughest weight class at the tournament. He defeated the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the 2A division, Jacob Garcia from Rocky Ford, to get to the medal round. This was a big victory for Brandon, Garcia beat him 8-3 earlier in the season.
Nathan Birdseye, 152, placed 4th on the day. His only lose came to the defending state champion from Grand Valley. Nathan was not able to wrestle in the third/fourth match because of the 5 match limit rule.
Jesse Johnson, 140, went 2-2 on the day. Eric Scholl, wrestling at 145 pounds, won one match on the day before elimination. Jared Cooper, Mitch Steffen and Andrew Hemm were winless on the day. Shelby Garrett, 135, won his first match but was withdrawn from the tournament because injury.
“As a whole we are wrestling better,” Cherrington said. “Our skills are improving and our conditioning is very good. With just three weeks left in the season it is crunch time. Our technical, physical and mental game must come together if we want to get kids to the state tournament.”
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