Eagle Valley places second at home invite
GYPSUM — OK, the top step of the podium at the Eagle Valley Wrestling Invitational is only 2 or 3 feet high, but to those who make it there it might as well be a 14er.
“Feels great,” said Eagle Valley’s Noah Hermosillo of the view.
He won at 120 pounds on Saturday, while Battle Mountain’s Freddy Morales was tops at 126 as Eagle Valley (142.5 points) finished second behind Hotchkiss (199), while Battle Mountain was seventh (52) out of 18 teams.
Wrestlers have memories like elephants. Hermosillo, a sophomore, was seeking a little revenge in his final against Steamboat Springs’ Dakota Thevdt. Apparently, Thevdt beat Hermosillo three years ago — when they were seventh-grade.
“You’ll find in wrestling a lot of these matches go back a long ways,” Devils coach Ron Beard said.
Beard added that he and his coaching staff can still remember wins and losses from assorted points during their careers and discuss them regularly.
Hermosillo went the full six minutes with Thevdt, recording takedowns in the first and second periods. Thevdt popped up for two escapes during the second period for his points.
“I was tired for a little bit, but the feeling of victory was way better,” Hermosillo said.
Hermosillo showed superlative conditioning during a scoreless third, and lifted his hands, pointing upward after the buzzer went off.
“It’s so important. It’s such a confidence booster,” the sophomore said. “I was having a rough first half of the season, and now my confidence is little bit up. I’ve got to keep working hard and keep pushing it everyday in the room.”
Don’t jinx it
Battle Mountain’s Morales is undefeated, which is creating a welcome buzz for the Huskies’ program, which has struggled for a good part of the last 10 years.
Morales dances a little bit around the fact that he has a zero attached to his record.
“People will ask,” he said. “I say, ‘Yeah, I’m undefeated,’ but I stay humble.”
His coach Angelo Vasquez, himself a state qualifier back in his days as a Huskies grappler, always has a word of caution for Morales.
“Any wrestler can be beat at any point of the season,” Vasquez said. “One move can change the outcome of a wrestling match. Every single match, you want to be in control.”
Morales apparently is taking that advice to heart. Tied 2-2 after one period against Coal Ridge’s Lane Nelson in the 126-pound final, Morales got the takedown and then rode Lane until he got the pin at 3:29.
Morales took satisfaction at winning at the Eagle Valley Invite — he didn’t last year because of a neck injury. But his eyes are on a greater prize — a return trip to state.
“Everything is practice toward regionals,” Morales said. “The more practice you get, the more matches you get and you’ll do better.”
Back to work
Not every division had a happy ending on Saturday. The Devils had six wrestlers lose in the finals. Most surprisingly, perhaps, was that Buena Vista’s Keegan Wentz topped Devin Ward at 182 pounds by a 13-4 major decision.
Wentz is ranked No. 2 in the state in 2A by onthemat.com., and he was voted as the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler for 152 pounds and above, so it’s, by no means, a bad loss for Ward.
Trever LaFramboise (132), Chris Comroe (138), Justin Morrison (152), Xavier Mendoza (220) and Josh Schaecher (285) all made their finals for the Devils, but finished second.
“By no means am I disappointed with the guys,” Beard said. “We had a lot of runner-ups. It just gives us a lot of stuff to work on in the coming weeks. I saw a lot of good effort today.”
And Beard just grinned when he talked about “stuff to work on.” This was the first weekend back from the holiday break and there’s a lot of season to go before regionals.
Normally finishing seventh at a tournament isn’t much about which to write home, but the Huskies are definitely becoming more competitive as a program after years of being an afterthought.
Not only did Morales win, but Wyatt Harwood made the finals at 160 pounds before being pinned by Hotchkiss’ Wade Katzdoun, while Hector Aguirre finished fourth at 170.
“It’s big, especially for some of the kids who didn’t place here last year,” Vasquez said. “These kids are turning it around after one season. They believe in the coaches and we believe in them.”
Battle Mountain is at Evergreen next week, while Eagle Valley is at Florence.