Rohrig gives Bears a lift on opening night
DENVER — It can’t always be easy trying to follow in the footsteps of a state champion, especially when that man is your father.
But for Rifle junior Dallas Rohrig, having a champion to look up to has only heightened his own wrestling career.
“He’s been there, done that,” Rohrig said of his father, Bo, who won his title for Rifle back in 1990. “It’s a big help.”
The younger Rohrig took a big step of his own Thursday evening in the first round of the Class 4A state championships at the Pepsi Center. A match that went the distance and then some was decided when Rohrig scored a takedown of Pueblo West’s Erik Romero in overtime for an 8-6 decision at 138 pounds.
“The kid beat me earlier this year by a couple points,” said Rohrig, who faces Conifer’s Hunter Shively in the quarterfinals. “It feels good to get something back.”
The triumph was the only one of the day for the Bears, who had dropped their first three matches. Palisade junior Dalton Hannigan and the Montrose trio of Matt Sandoval, Marcus Velasquez and Jesus Casillas also advanced into this afternoon’s quarterfinals.
“It feels great. The first one’s always the hardest,” Velasquez said. “You’ve got to get past the first one, and every one after that gets harder and harder, so it feels good to get one out of the way.”
Rohrig echoed those sentiments after his thrilling victory. Both wrestlers were battling fatigue by the third period and couldn’t come up with the deciding takedown, but Rohrig found a way to get the job done in overtime.
“Just keep going,” Rohrig said of his strategy. “We both were dead, but you’ve got to put more heart out.”
Velasquez picked up his 41st victory of the season with an impressive pin of Elizabeth’s Kevin Paredes in 2 minutes, 47 seconds at 160 pounds. Velasquez, who scored two takedowns and a three-point near fall in the first period, hooked Paredes again in the second before finally getting his shoulders to the mat.
Next up is Woodland Park’s Thomas Chisolm.
“I just want to wrestle the way I wrestle,” Velasquez said. “Hope the cards play out the way they’re supposed to.”
Sandoval won his first-round contest at 138 pounds with a 4-3 decision over Lewis-Palmer’s Nathaniel Ryked, advancing to face Roosevelt’s Jace Lopez.
Casillas outlasted Cheyenne Mountain’s Billy Dabney 1-0 at heavyweight. He’ll meet Windsor’s Robert Bishop-Cotner today.
Hannigan made it look easy in his opening match at 126, dominating Windsor’s Matteo Ambriz to the tune of a 16-0 technical fall. Hannigan notched three near-falls in the first period and two more in the second to secure the victory.
He next faces Evergreen’s Jacob Kay.
“I thought Dalton did a good job. He went out there, he wrestled a smart match, and he was in charge the whole time,” Bulldogs coach Brian Rush said. “When you get here it’s just one match at a time, and he looked really good tonight.”
Rush admitted it was a bit of a rough evening for the rest of his qualifiers. Randen Espinoza was pinned at 106; Justin Ray dropped a 4-3 decision at 132; Trevor Garcia was pinned at 145; and Braxton Stewart lost by technical fall at 182.
“They’re sitting fine where they’re at in the bracket. They can all get back in this,” Rush said. “It takes two losses.”
No one advanced to the quarterfinals for Delta.
For those who stayed alive Thursday in the championship bracket, getting a match under their belts was a big relief.
“The first match is always the worst,” Rohrig said. “You get that one out of the way, and you move on to being closer to greatness.”