Bulldogs reign supreme

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Dove Creek's Cole Baughman wins his first match and went on to be the 132-pound San Juan Basin League champion Thursday at Dolores.

By Bobby Abplanalp Journal staff writer

When asked how many consecutive league titles his team has won. Dove Creek wrestling coach Shane Baughman didn't know.

"I honestly couldn't tell you," he said. "We just try to take it year by year."

That's how dominant the Bulldogs have been. That many team wins have become an afterthought over the years.

Dove Creek claimed another San Juan Basin League championship Thursday night at Dolores High School.

Sure a league title is nice, but the state's third-ranked 2A team has bigger goals in mind.

"We just came in today and used this as building for regionals," said SJBL champ Cole Baughman, who is ranked No. 1 in the state in 2A at 132 pounds. "We've been going two-a-days for two weeks now. It's kind of nice to get in some wrestling against somebody else. We're really just getting ready for next weekend."

The Bulldogs claimed eight league champions to easily with the tournament with 158.5 points. Nucla was second with 81 and host Dolores placed third at 65. Ignacio and Norwood were fourth and fifth with 58 and 49 points, respectively.

"It was pretty good," coach Baughman said. "Overall, they wrestled pretty good for the most part."

Dolores had two league champions. Wyatt Wade took care of business at 145 pounds. He went 2-0 with each win by technical fall, as he defeated Dove Creek's Tommy Fury and Nucla's Danny Harris. Wade is ranked No. 2 by coloradopreps.com.

Ethan Upton was a pleasant surprise for the hometown Bears. The former182-pounder cut weight to 170 and wrestled two hard fought matches that went the distance.

After 10 minutes of wrestling on the day, Upton's final period against Dove Creek's Wyatt Applin was two minutes for the ages.

Upton led Applin 7-4 after an exhausting two rounds, as each wrestler greatly gasped for air.

In the end, it came down to who was the better conditioned athlete. Even after losing more than 10 pounds, it was Upton that had more left in the tank.

With each side of fans frantically cheering on the grapplers, Upton controlled Applin on the mat for the final two minutes to hang on for a tough 7-4 win by decision.

"That kid's (Applin) really tough. I've been watching him all year. He's just one of them farmer-built kids," said Upton, who also won a 7-4 decision over Norwood's Kolby Starks in the first match. "I've just been cutting, cutting weight and trying to get down to 170s. I tried match control and tried to get as many takedowns as I can."

Upton won his first SJBL title and upped his season record to 16-4. The junior is confident heading into regionals next week in Grand Junction.

"My confidence is way up right now," Upton said. "I haven't won a league championship yet. Last year, I took third and going into regionals, I feel pretty good. My biggest goal is to go undefeated the rest of the season and try to get that state championship."

Luke Murefield and Kacee Davis placed second for Dolores at 132 and 160.

"I though the guys wrestled really well," said first-year Dolores coach Leo Garand. "We wrestled technically very sound. Wyatt took care of business and Ethan coming back from tonsillitis, to come out and do what he did, I thought was very impressive."

The Bears only had six guys suit up Thursday, but Garand expects injured wrestlers Wyatt Mattausch (132) and Levi Noyes (120) to be back for regionals. Murefield will drop back to 126.

"It's just keeping them focused," Garand said. "It's staying focused and doing those things that we're doing that fuels the success that we're seeing."

Before regionals, Dolores will wrestle today at the Nucla tournament beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Thursday, though, was mostly about the Bulldogs - again.

Cole Baughman solidified his No. 1 ranking with two pins. The senior was the state runner-up in 2012 at 120.

"I'm just looking to wrestle hard. I'm looking to wrestle my best every match," Cole Baughman said. "It's not ever about just dominating. I want to keep building. I want to wrestle my best, keep improving myself, get my attitude right going into state."

Case Baughman (113), Chance Randolph (120), Nick Jones (120), Tyler Ebberts (No. 4; 138), Dalton Randolph (No. 4; 152), Dillon Daves (160) and Tyson Smith (heavyweight) all claimed titles. Applin and Tyler Knuckles (195) both took second.

"We're confident. Everybody is confident in themselves getting to state," Cole Baughman said. "They say it's a team sport, but it's all a bunch of individuals. You just worry about yourself and do your own job."

The Bulldogs will rest up for the 2A western regionals next Friday and Saturday at Grand Junction High School.

Dove Creek will be a strong contender with defending regional and state champion Paonia.


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