Palisade’s Hannigan shocks Class 4A regional wrestling field
Palisade wrestler Dalton Hannigan was simply hoping to qualify for state in a loaded weight bracket.
To the 112-pound freshman’s surprise, he ended up winning a regional title, upsetting the state’s third and fourth-ranked wrestlers along the way.
“I don’t know ... I’m speechless,” Hannigan said. “I came in looking to go to state, but I ended up wrestling hard and winning it.”
Hannigan and Daniel Salazar won individual titles Saturday at Mesa State College’s Brownson Arena to lead Palisade to the Class 4A Region 4 title with 195 points. The Bulldogs, who won their fourth consecutive Western Slope League title, qualified eight wrestlers for the 4A state tournament later this week at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Palisade won the regional sportsmanship award as well.
“The kids wrestled really well,” Palisade coach Brian Rush said. “That’s what it takes to win one of these. I thought our conditioning was pretty good. We won a lot of tight matches at the end and it made a difference.”
Delta had four individual champions and six state qualifiers to take second with 187.5 points. Montrose had two individual champions and seven state qualifiers to placed third with 163.
Hannigan upset third-ranked Frank Vigil of Air Academy 9-8 in overtime in the final.
“My coaches got me to where I always believed in myself and wouldn’t settle for anything less than winning,” Hannigan said. “That was the first time I’ve seen him. I didn’t know him. I just knew that was the next guy I had to beat to win it.”
Two matches later, Daniel Salazar avenged an earlier season loss, defeating Montrose’s Geordon Hudson 2-0 in the 125-pound final.
“I always hate losing, so to come back and get that win makes me feel a lot better about the loss earlier in the season,” Salazar said. “I always feel like, no matter who I’m wrestling, I should be able to get away on bottom. In the second period, he’d been riding me the whole time and my pride kicked in a little bit.”
Palisade’s Justin Ray (119), Kyle Hatcher (189) and Joey Dupre (285) reached the finals, but lost. They qualified for state along with Mason Day (135), Zach Judis (171) and Trevan Gardner (215).
Delta‘s Mykal DeHerrera pinned all four of his opponents to win his first region title. The No. 1-ranked 103-pound senior pinned Eagle Valley’s Damien Atencio in 1 minute, 40 seconds in the final.
“I felt good,” DeHerrera said. “I had to go out there and do my stuff. Thanks to (coaches Clayton) Curtis and (Luis) Meza helped me do a couple moves that helped me a lot in this tournament.”
Teammate Rudy Fantin won the 135-pound title with a 6-3 victory over Montrose’s Kordell Bradshaw. It was the third time the two have met this season.“It is tough to wrestle a kid three times,” Fantin said. “I want to win at state, if I can’t beat him here, I can’t do well at state.”
Two matches later, Delta’s Nathan Trujillo pinned Eagle Valley’s Cole Nielsen in 3:23 for the 145-pound title.
Michael Patton capped the Panthers’ night with the 215-pound title. He pinned all of his opponents, including Air Academy’s Brian Gelston.
“I wrestled a couple of these guys (in the region),” Patton said. “I know I’m pretty good at this, but I came out thinking I’m treating everyone equal. I wasn’t going to let myself get beat.”
Montrose’s Bryce Gaber defeated Cañon City’s Miguel Montelongo 8-1 in the 171-pound final in a rematch of the Cañon City Invitational final earlier this season. Gaber won that match in overtime.
“I knew I’d see him at regionals and I think I got his hopes up,” Gaber said. “When he came to regionals, I knew I had to prove a point because I’ll see him again at state. He’s a good wrestler.”
Gaber’s teammate, Drew Schumann, pinned his way through the tournament and pinned Cañon City’s Nick Grooms in 2:26 in the 130-pound final.
“I just went in it the same way I did last time,” Schumann said. “I go in tough and hard and know things will come out in the end like they come out.”
“I go in annoying myself by saying something over and over and over,” Schumann said. “I repeat to myself. I’ve had matches I should’ve won I lost because I wasn’t ready or I did something stupid. I’m not going to sit there and say I’m going to lose. I’m just going to do what I do until whatever happens.”