Chasing a dream
Daves puts unbeaten record on the line, hopes to earn 1st state title
Ryan Daves goes to bed at night dreaming of the one thing he's chased for nearly four years.
A high school state wrestling championship.
"About every night, I've been dreaming of it," Daves said. "It would mean the world to me."
At 35-0, it's now or never for the Montezuma-Cortez High School senior.
"I'm excited. It's my last year to do it," Daves said. "I'm going to give it everything I have."
The farm boy will hang up his wrestling shoes and protective headgear at the conclusion of the Colorado High School Activities Association 4A State Championships, which begin today in Denver.
There are two things Daves has done a lot of since he was 4-years-old - farming and wrestling. He played soccer, baseball and football for a short time as a youngster, but it's always been about wrestling.
"I've been doing it awhile," Daves said. "It's the one (sport) I've always done the best at. I've always accomplished the most things at, so that's why I stuck with it."
Daves has been to state and placed his three previous years of high school. He earned consecutive fourth-place medals as a freshman and sophomore. As a junior, Daves broke through into the semifinals and claimed a bronze medal at 126 pounds.
Wrestling this season at 138 pounds, Daves is undefeated and ranked as the No. 1 overall seed in the division at the state tourney. Not only is Daves unbeaten, but he's done so in mostly dominant fashion. He uses speed, strength and superior technical skill to outwork his opponents.
With all of the success, the cool, calm and collected prep wrestling star is keeping a level head going into state.
"I try not to get overconfident and look past anybody," Daves said. "I kind of did that at state last year and that's why I lost the match that I did. I looked past the kid."
At the 4A Western Regionals last Saturday in Montrose, a focused Daves confidently put on a championship caliber display on the mat.
The Montrose High School fans were out in full force to support hometown grappler Matt Sandoval in the 138-pound finals
With a regional title on the line, the booing home fans against him and all eyes in a packed MHS Gymnasium glued to the mat, one could easily cut the tension with a knife.
It was basically another day at the office for Daves; and, he was the one doing the cutting.
Daves slashed any hope Sandoval had in the second period with two takedowns. He also scored an escape point and a caution point to take an 8-2 lead. For the majority of the match, Sandoval was face down with a mouth full of wrestling mat.
In the third period, Daves finished Sandoval.
Patiently waiting for his opportunity, Daves found it at the five minute, 18 second mark of the match. That's when the ref slapped the mat and Daves recorded yet another pin and another regional title.
"We call that a 'Cobra,'" said Daves about the hold he put on Sandoval to secure the pin.
Perhaps the shining moment this season came on Dec. 15, at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.
Daves pinned his way to the finals of the prestigious Warrior Classic. If there's a state championship barometer, the Warrior Classic is definitely it. Wrestlers from each classification in Colorado are paired against each other.
In the 138-pound finals, the top two ranked 4A wrestlers bested the state field and squared off for the title. On that December day, Daves claimed the top ranking in the state with a hard fought 4-2 overtime decision victory against Roosevelt's Jace Lopez.
It was Daves' first Warrior Classic title.
All that remains now, is a gold medal.
Four matches to ultimate glory and a dream begins today at the Pepsi Center against Matt McFadden (22-11) of Cheyenne Mountain.
Oh, and Lopez is ranked No. 2 on the other side of the bracket. Could there be a rematch for all the marbles Saturday?
Fulfilling a dream is taking it one match at a time.
"The best kids everywhere are going to be there," said Daves, who is the son of Travis Daves and Carry Snyder.
Ryan Daves will graduate in May from M-CHS and start the next chapter of his life working full-time on the family farm near Pleasant View.
For three days in Denver, Daves is ultimately looking to finish what he started at age 4.