The Durango High School boys wrestling team will send one boy to the Class 4A state tournament next Saturday in Pueblo.
Jacob Fenberg placed second at 113 pounds at the 4A Region 1 tournament Friday. He will be the lone Demon to wrestle at state.
Fenberg earned a pin victory of Pueblo South’s Myka Oliva with 34 seconds to go in the second period of his quarterfinal match. He then earned a tough 6-1 decision against Falcon’s Daniel Leon in the semifinal.
But in the regional championship match at Pueblo West High School, Fenberg would fall late in the third period when he was pinned by Thompson Valley’s Nathan Nodalsky.
“He came in hurt, but he set himself up well and won the matches he should have, and that got him to state,” DHS head coach Robert Finneseth said.
Ben Belt of Durango finished one place out of qualifying for state at 152 pounds. Third place would have gotten him to state during a normal year, but during a condensed season with state brackets cut into half the size with only eight wrestlers per weight class qualifying for state, his third place kept him on the outside of state.
Belt won his third-place match with a 7-4 decision against Blake Hanenberg of Canon City. Belt had lost in the semifinals to Pueblo West’s Matthew Holdredge but bounced back with a 3-1 decision win in the consolation semifinals against Pueblo Centennial’s Tory Silver.
“He really needed to win in the semis,” Finneseth said. “The guy who won our region is really tough. The Pueblo West kid was beatable, but Ben didn’t wrestle his best match. He wrestled hard, and it has weighed on everybody this year only taking the top two and only eight making state. Any other year, he’d be there.”
Ben Finneseth (182) was the only other placer for DHS at regionals, as he also took third. He had a chance to challenge the championship-match loser in a true second-place match for the chance to go to state.
But Falcon’s Ryan Patterson, who lost to Pueblo East’s Xavier Freeman via pin 1:32 into the second period of the championship, was able to get past Finneseth by one point in overtime to clinch his spot at state and keep Finneseth out.
“For somebody who hadn’t stepped on the mat in several years, he’s disappointed, but he did really good,” coach Finneseth said of his son, who will attend the University of Colorado next year to play football. “It’s been a crazy short year with COVID, and all of his matches have been pins in the first or second periods. That was a concern going into regionals about how his lungs would be. But it was a great experience for him to better himself for CU and football, and he had a big impact on the kids on the team showing them the explosion it takes on a shot.”
Ben Finneseth earned a 12-7 quarterfinal win against Isaiah Alcazar of Montrose but would lose a 9-1 major decision to Freeman, the top-ranked 4A 182-pound wrestler in the state, in the semifinals. He bounced back in the consolation semifinals with a 7-5 decision win against Thompson Valley’s Joe Smack to get into the third-place match against Pueblo West’s Dominic Derting, which he won with a 10-6 decision.
Now, Fenberg will be the Demon with a chance to place at state on Saturday in Pueblo.
“Our whole team has bonded so much this year, and that’s what I wanted to see,” coach Finneseth said. “That’s how we get our numbers up. It’s about making sacrifices for the team. We went 11-9 in duals, had some great duals, and we had a ton of freshmen and sophomores. We want to get 40 kids in the room. We’re not quite there, but the next few years are going to be really exciting.”