Daves just misses gold

M-CHS senior concludes prep wrestling career with fourth state medal

Ryan Daves of Montezuma-Cortez High School battles Roosevelt's Jace Lopez in the Class 4A 138-pound championship match Saturday night at the Pepsi Center. Daves came in undefeated but Lopez pulled off the upset, winning 3-1 to claim the state title. Enlargephoto

Dale Shrull/Cortez Journal

Ryan Daves of Montezuma-Cortez High School battles Roosevelt's Jace Lopez in the Class 4A 138-pound championship match Saturday night at the Pepsi Center. Daves came in undefeated but Lopez pulled off the upset, winning 3-1 to claim the state title.

DENVER - As the final seconds of the third period trickled down, Panthers wrestling coach Eric Smith screamed "you gotta go!"

Five, four, three, two... And there it was. A 2-point reversal senior Ryan Daves needed to keep his state championship hopes alive and force overtime.

But in a matter of nanoseconds, the buzzer sounded and the referee signaled the end of the match.

No reversal - no state championship. Loads of disappointment.

Fans of Roosevelt cheered. Fans of Montezuma-Cortez High School were left in stunned silence.

In a battle of evenly matched wrestlers, it was two-seeded Jace Lopez that had his hand raised in victory at 138 pounds.

Daves won 38 of 39 wrestling matches this season, with his final match being a close 3-1 loss by decision.

"I thought I could do it," he said. "That's all I have to say."

Daves concluded his M-CHS wrestling career Saturday night at the Pepsi Center where he finished his three previous seasons - on the podium.

However, with a sparkling 38-1 record, the "1" ultimately resulted in being No. 2 and earning silver instead of gold. For Daves, Saturday night was bittersweet. The senior walked away from the sport with his fourth medal in four years.

"It sucks," Daves said. "I wish I didn't have to lose the one at the end of it. It's awesome to be here, but it would have been a lot better if I won it."

This was the second match for Daves and Lopez. Daves defeated Lopez in the 138-pound finals of the Grand Junction Warrior Classic by two points. Daves had been ranked No. 1 in 4A since.

"He hardly gives up any position," Daves said about Lopez. "You got to capitalize when he does."

Lopez struck with a takedown late in the first period. Those two points were the difference, as Lopez barely gave an inch the rest of the match.

"It was staying in position and just hoping I'd come out on top in a close match like that," said Lopez, who finished his senior year 34-2. "I've been in the running for a state title ever since I was a freshman. I got there. It feels great this year."

Lopez earned an escape point in the second to take a 3-0 lead. Daves tried tirelessly to take down Lopez, but Daves couldn't get his competitor to budge.

In the third, Daves quickly got on the board with an escape point and went on the offensive.

Lopez was just trying to hang on when the Panther attacked. Daves missed another takedown, but was spinning out of Lopez's weakening grasp. With one section of the arena roaring for Daves to beat the clock, his reversal came just a hair too late.

One wrestler flexed his muscles in celebration. The other walked, shoulders slumped, to his corner in dejection.

Smith hugged Daves and told him he had a great year.

Daves hangs up his wrestling shoes as one of the most decorated athletes in the sport at M-CHS. He compiled an overall record of 145-33, won fourth-place medals as a freshman and sophomore, and took home bronze in 2012.

bobbya@cortezjournal.com.

Montezuma-Cortez High School coach Eric Smith gives senior Ryan Daves a hug after his loss in the title match. Enlargephoto

Dale Shrull/Cortez Journal

Montezuma-Cortez High School coach Eric Smith gives senior Ryan Daves a hug after his loss in the title match.