It was a valiant effort from two of Bayfield High School’s best wrestlers on Friday night in the semifinals at the state wrestling tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver, but John Foutz and Daniel Westbrook will be wrestling for a different podium spot other than the top after they each lost in their final-four matchups.
“That’s a tough one to lose, unfortunately, and while they’re all tough to lose at state, the semifinal match is always the hardest,” said BHS head coach Todd McMenimen. “I’ve seen two seniors get to that point and they take it pretty hard and the state championship match is agonizingly close, and to come out short, it’s a tough one to take.”
Foutz (38-6) took on No. 2 seed Abe Leonard (33-2) of Elizabeth in the 3A 195-pound semis, but was pinned at the 1:09 mark of the match. He will now move on to the consolation bracket semifinals on Saturday, where he is guaranteed to finish no less than fifth. Those remaining in the consolation include Mitchell Peabody of La Junta, who Foutz defeated in the quarterfinals, Thomas Mettlen of Brush, Chrisnel Akele of Fort Morgan and Caleb Janowsky of Pagosa Springs. Foutz could also face Gauge Lockhart of Delta, who he lost to last year, which denied him a spot at state. Lockhart lost in the other semifinal match against Holt Brashears of Salida.
“John got sick pretty bad last night and after that quarterfinal match, he didn’t have any energy at all,” McMenimen said. “He was going for a minute in that match, and just didn’t have anything left in the tank. He was so mentally ready for it, but he didn’t have any fuel to last him. But he fought hard, as always, we’ll come out with different plan for tomorrow and go from there.”
Westbrook (34-5) came in against Cody Ponce, the No. 3 seed from Eagle Valley and got an early takedown and went up 2-0, which he held at the end of the first period. In the second, it was a different story, as Ponce was able to make a move and pin Westbrook 28 seconds into the second period.
Westbrook will also move to the consolation bracket semifinals where he could potentially see Atsamaz Pliev of Sierra, who he beat in the quarterfinals, James Hochandel of Fort Morgan, Chris Felan of Lamar, and Austin Trujillo of Alamosa, who beat Westbrook last week in the regional final. The other semifinal saw Eli Smith of Salida defeat top-seeded Drew Book of Sterling in a 2-1 thriller.
“Daniel was moving really well on the bottom and we got the start we needed,” McMenimen said. “He tried to switch a couple of times, and in the second, he stood up and got his arm stuck and (Ponce) got us with the cradle move. Sometimes, you just get caught, and I wish it didn’t happen like that, but it did.”
Westbrook, who isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve and is known for his passion on the mat, took the loss pretty hard, according to McMenimen.
“It’s hurting right now, it really is, but we’ll put it behind us, get some fuel and be ready to battle tomorrow,” McMenimen said.
McMenimen added that sometimes at a state championship, it’s those who come up short in the semifinals who end up learning the most.
“Quite often, the toughest kid in the tournament ends up third,” McMenimen said. “You have to go to a different mental state after a semifinal loss, and you have to get back into that battling mode in order to fight for that third-place podium spot.”
The semifinal consolation match will take place after the third-round consolation matches, which begin at 10 a.m.
In another area semifinal, Montezuma-Cortez’s Matthew Broughton (42-5) lost in the 3A 152-pound semifinal in an 8-5 decision against Oswaldo Nunez (30-6) of Brush.
Ignacio High School’s Cesar Pedregon (27-12) advanced to the third round of the Class 2A 182-pound
consolation bracket, after he pinned Ty Hardesty (26-25) in just 42 seconds. Pedregon made quick work for the second time in the consolation bracket, after he pinned William Anderson of Hanover in just 15 seconds in the first round earlier in the afternoon.
Pedregon will wrestle in the consolation bracket quarterfinals against Jesus Diaz of Trinidad (23-7) on Saturday morning beginning at 10 a.m.
Durango’s Tyler Woodworth had a valiant first showing at state, but his season ended with a 9-6 decision loss to Kevin Hooks (40-10) of Cheyenne Mountain in the 145-pound second round consolation bracket.