Dolores hosts league wrestling championships

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

Dolores wrestlers were lucky enough this year to wrestle in league championships on their home mat, as Dolores hosted the league championships last week.

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.

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

Ethan Upton was a pleasant surprise for the hometown Bears. The former 182-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 his season record is now 18-4. The junior is confident heading into regionals 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, 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 wrestled last Saturday at the Nucla tournament and took third as a team.

The host Mustangs were first and 4A Delta was second.

Wade, Valdez and Upton all won titles at 145, 152 and 170 with 2-0 records apiece.

Wallace was third at 138 with a 2-1 mark and Murefield came in fourth at 132s.

"I think it was a nice way to finish. We've been wrestling tough the last week," Garand said. "Their hard work is paying off. They're wrestling at the top of their game going into regionals."

The Bears will gear up for the 2A western regionals today and Saturday at Grand Junction High School.

"We've got three, possibly five guys that look like they can go on," said Garand about wrestlers advancing to next week's state tourney. "Wyatt Mattausch is coming back from injury. A couple guys are wrestling real well that can surprise some folks."

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