’Dogs place second in 4A regional
MONTROSE — A 5-4 loss at last year’s state wrestling tournament still annoys Palisade High School’s Aaron Wagler.
The Bulldogs’ 189-pound wrestler took another step on his revenge tour Saturday, powering through the Class 4A Region 3 tournament and winning the title by defeating Montrose’s Jordan Passehl 10-5.
Wagler pinned his first three opponents in 11/2 minutes or less, but had a tougher match with Passehl, who handed Wagler one of his two losses this season.
“With a kid that good and a kid that has beaten me, getting to see him in the finals is good,” Wagler said. “If I didn’t, it might have taken away from what I needed going into state.
“My two years I have made it, I lost because I was out of condition. My main goal for state this year is I will not be out of shape.”
Wagler was one of five Bulldogs to be wrestling in the finals, which helped propel Palisade to a second-place finish with 230.5 points. Roosevelt won the tournament with 265.5 points.
“The kids wrestled real well,” Palisade coach Brian Rush said. “We placed 11 out of 14 places and while we are going to end up second, this is what determines the league champs and we got that, which is nice.”
Wagler wasn’t the only stellar performance for the Bulldogs in the finals.
Daniel Salazar won the 103-pound title by defeating Geordon Hudson of Montrose 14-0.
Salazar jumped to a 5-0 lead in the first period and controlled the match the rest of the way.
“I came out ready to wrestle,” Salazar said. “It was tough making weight two days in a row and I probably stayed up too late last night, but this was a lot of fun and now I have to take care of business.”
A freshman, Salazar cruised to the title by pinning Roosevelt’s Kyle Walter and defeating Vista Ridge’s David Collas 9-2.
The Bulldogs’ 145-pounder, Wesley Shingleton, also took home an individual title by defeating Erik Stucky of Montrose 8-4. Shingleton is a junior who has made the tournament the previous two years and said this year’s tournament he has raised the bar.
“My goal is to win the whole thing,” Shingleton said. “The past two years I made it but didn’t do anything, so this year I am hoping to do well.”
Shingleton said he feels like he is in great physical condition and he hopes that will set him apart at the state tournament.
“I feel amazing,” Shingleton said. “I have been a little better conditioned in the third (period), which has helped me outlast kids.”
The Bulldogs have three wrestlers returning home as regional champs, but two wrestlers reached the championship match, only to fall short of titles.
Casey Thornton (112) lost to Montrose’s Drew Schumann 9-2. Thornton said he was happy with his tournament, especially the fact he was able to defeat Eagle Valley’s Colt Ewing, a wrestler he had already lost to twice.
“I am proud of the match against the Eagle Valley kid,” Thornton said. “But I am ready for state and it is going to take a lot of focus and wrestling at the top of my game.”
Tanner Barnes (152) also made the finals but fell to top-ranked Justin Samora of Montezuma-Cortez. Barnes was pinned in the final at 2:55. The senior wrestler said he was glad to have seen Samora, because if he wants to win the state title, he figures he will have to get past Samora.
“He is tough and it was my first time seeing him, so I was trying to figure him out,” Barnes said.
“But I wanted to see him before I went to state.”
Palisade had three wrestlers in wrestlebacks.
Kelly Davis (130) held on to fourth place to qualify and 215-pounder Nick Stephanus defeated Zach Campbell of Summit to qualify. The Bulldogs’ 140-pounder, Terry Williams, lost his wrestleback.
“We are going to keep working hard,” Rush said. “Any time you get to state there will be good wrestlers. You just have to wrestle hard, wrestle smart and be aggressive.”
Rifle finished third with 211 points and host Montrose came in fourth with 189.50. The Bears will be sending eight wrestlers to state and the Indians nine.
Cortez, Moffat County, Delta, Eagle Valley and Glenwood Springs all finished in the top 10.