Harvey, Best advance to state finals
DENVER – The fairgrounds behind the Pepsi Center may have been closed, but the Eagle Valley wrestling squad went on an emotional roller coaster ride Friday at state. Chris Harvey (160 pounds) and Brendan Best (171) both won their semifinal matches to advance to today’s state finals, after Mason Ewing (135) and Kylan Kottenstette (151) lost their quarterfinal matches earlier in the day. Harvey showed little emotion after decisively winning his semifinal match against Josh Rangel of Greely Central, 15-5, but celebrated with fervor along with his coaches when Best beat Ben Hicks of Pinecreek, 7-5, in a seasaw match. “Obviously there are two different reactions after the matches,” said Eagle Valley coach Ron Beard. “With Harvey, we more expected it – it’s business as usual. With Brendan, I’m hugging and jumping.” But Beard wasn’t completely happy, knowing two of his seniors had lost, and how upset they had been.”Right now it’s bittersweet,” Beard after Best and Harvey won their matches, but before Kottenstette and Ewing took to the mat for their consolation matches. “We have two kids who are in the finals, and two kids who are battling their way back.” And battle they did.
Ewing won 3-2, and Kottenstette pinned his opponent at 5:21, keeping both wrestlers alive for possible third-place finishes today.”It’s hard to get motivated for third place when you dream of first place,” Kottenstette said. “It’s so hard to realize that I’m never going to fulfill my dream (of wining).” Double GranbyAfter two periods of grappling and little action down on the mat, Best and Hicks put on a great show in the final frame.”I’m thinking it’s going to hinge on getting that coin flip and being the first to escape,” Beard said.After Best starting on the bottom in the second period, he escaped with under a minute left to take a 1-0 lead.Then, Best grabbed a 3-0 lead with a takedown to start out the third, but Hicks pulled a Granby to take a 4-3 lead. Then, with about a minute left in the match, Best pulled a Granby to take a 7-4 lead.
“Brendan gets a takedown, it’s like he’s got it now, 3-0, then it’s like how my god, how did (Hicks) come back for a four-point move. Brendan is the one who is usually pulling that,” Beard said. “His father Colonel (Joel) Best comes in and shows us the move. We call it the Colonel.” Best was elated after his match, but only for a while. He knows he still has one more match to go.”I promised my coach I wouldn’t talk to any reporters until I won a state championship,” Best said.Best’s quarterfinal match against Matt Fischer of Elizabeth, also featured extensive grappling.For the entire first period, both wrestlers butted heads and grabbed arms, but neither could gain any sort of advantage, and no knees made contact with the mat. Best started the second period with a takedown, and after the wrestlers went out of bounds, Fisher earned a reversal on the restart.Trailing 2-1, Fisher started the third period with a reversal to tie the match. Midway through the final frame, Best grabbed a 4-2 advantage with a takedown, and for the rest of the match, Fischer struggled to break free from Best.
DominanceHarvey was the mark of consistency in both of his matches, earning takedown after takedown.Against Rangel, Harvey led 4-2 after the first period, and had extended his lead to 9-3 by the end of the second period.For the final two minutes, Harvey controlled his opponent, and finished the match with a five second near fall.”He’s so focused,” Beard said.In the quarterfinals, Harvey kept Alamosa’s Craig Rogers on the mat for most of the final four minutes of the match, earning a technical fall as time expired. Rogers, however, had the advantage in the first period. An early takedown gave Rogers a 2-0 lead, and he fended off Harvey for most of the first period, only surrendering an escape. From the start of the second period, Harvey took over and didn’t look back. An escape, takedown and near fall put Harvey up 7-2 in the second. It was more of the same for the rest of the match, with Harvey extending his lead in four- and five-point spurts. Right before the third period ended, Harvey used yet another five-second near fall to get the tech fall at 23-7.
Tough lossEwing couldn’t make up a five-point deficit in his quarterfinal match against Cheyenne Mountain’s Austin Stubas. Early in the first period, Ewing got hold of Stubas’ leg and took him down to earn a 2-0 advantage, but Stubas used a reverse to even the score. Ewing was penalized early in the second period to give Stubas a 3-2 lead. Stubas then earned a reversal and a near fall to earn what proved to be an insurmountable lead. With 1:02 remaining in the final period, Stubas was penalized for stalling, then with 16 seconds left in the match, Ewing reversed a hold and was in a favorable position, but Stubas held out for the 7-5 win. In his consolation match, Ewing built an early 3-0 lead on Greely Central’s Josh Gonzales, and fended off a late surge by Gonzalez to win, 3-2. “We are trying to get him out of the funk,” Beard said. “Tomorrow morning he’ll be back to where he was. Coming back to take third is the hardest thing to do at state. You have to win the most matches to get third.”
Kottenstette’s loss to Matt Chavez of Fort Morgan left a shocking look on his face, as well as Beards’ face.After Kottenstette started the match in control, earning two takedowns, Chavez turned the tables quickly. As time winded down in the first period, Chavez escaped from Kottenstette, then took him down quickly, and rolled him into position for a pin at 1:54.But Kottenstette came back seven hours later to ensure him at least one more day of wrestling.Today, Best faces John Tangeman of Broomfield and Harvey faces Johnny Ortega of Thompson Valley, whom he beat at regionals. Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext 14631, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado