Huskies Morales and Harwood place at state
February 21, 2016
DENVER — Battle Mountain needs more paint.
For the first time since 2000, Battle Mountain wrestling had two athletes medal at the 4A state-wrestling meet on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
And that means names go up on the wall in the wrestling room in Edwards.
Jesus Morales gets his name on the wall again with a fourth-place finish at state at 132 pounds. (It's his second state podium in a row.) And leave some room for Wyatt Harwood. He goes on the wall with a fourth-place finish at 170.
"It's really cool. My siblings are going to go through Battle Mountain and see it," Morales said. "I'll have kids and they'll see it. It's never going to be erased."
And that's big stuff for a program that's been through some lean years.
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"It's a great feeling watching them out there," Huskies coach Angelo Vasquez said. "They were pulling upsets. They wrestled to their potential and peaked at the right time."
Morales capped his career in style, going 36-10 this season. He finishes with three-straight state appearances.
"It's a big deal always to have a leader on a team in a tough sport," Vasquez said. "Jesus' personality is like sharpened steel. It makes everyone in the room better."
Morales started on Saturday with a pin of Greeley Central's Justus Strand.
"It was really important to wrestle smart," Morales said. "You have to get in good position. It was mostly a battle of position. Whoever made the first mistake loses."
That was Strand and the end came at 4:55.
Morales had been scheduled to face Windsor's Matteo Ambriz in his next match, but the Battle Mountain senior got the forfeit — Ambriz had broken his ankle in his previous match.
Morales had the tough luck of facing a rematch in his third-place bout in the form of Niwot's Tommy Stager. The Niwot wrestler had beaten Morales, 5-3, in Friday's second round. This time around, Stager pinned Morales at 1:42.
Despite the disappointing finish, Morales considered it a great weekend.
"It feels really good placing," Morales said. "It was a really tough tournament. You don't do that every day."
Surprise, or not
Normally, first-time state qualifiers go two-and-out on the floor of the Pepsi Center. Not Harwood.
He likely pulled one of the bigger upsets of the tournament, pinning Alameda's Fabian Estrada in Friday's second round.
"I just thought of it as another wrestling match," Harwood said. "It didn't matter who was watching or how many people were there. It's just a match like at Middle Park or in your own gym."
And that made Harwood and his coach just about the only two people who weren't surprised by a podium finish.
"He's a level-headed kid," Vasquez said. "Every match means something to him."
Harwood dispatched Pueblo County's Jayson Davis, 10-6, during wrestle-backs on Saturday. And, naturally, he got Estrada again in his third-place match. Estrada got his revenge with a pin, but Harwood left the Pepsi Center with a state-wrestling medal.
"I always thought I would be on the podium," he said. "That was the goal all year. It means a lot to me. Hard work paid off, and here I am."
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.
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