Grinding out a win

Fruita's Taylor continues season-long approach at state

Central’s Riley Garner-Orr, right, gets Douglas County’s Jack Bullock on his head Thursday during his 113-pound match in the first round of the Class 5A state tournament at the Pepsi Center. Garner-Orr, a freshman, won his debut match 2-0.

Grand Junction 138-pounder Isaac Rider gets a grip on Fairview’s Melvin Gutierrez on his way to pinning Gutierrez in 2:43 in the first round on Thursday.

DENVER — Ty Taylor can laugh about it because he knows what he is: a grinder.

He’s not flashy. He doesn’t record many technical falls or pins.

What Fruita Monument’s 182-pound junior ultimately does is win, like he did Thursday in the first round of the Class 5A state wrestling tournament at the Pepsi Center.

Taylor (34-10) led Cherry Creek senior Hunter Pasternack 2-0 after one period, 3-0 after two periods, then concluded the grind with a late takedown for a 5-0 win and a berth in today’s quarterfinals.

Taylor said he practices mostly against Fruita’s Jacob Seely, an undefeated state qualifier at 195, and Chase Clayton, who didn’t make the state cut but is one of the area’s best 220-pounders. And that led him to mention a little joke that teammates have devised about the trio.

“They call us Murderer’s Row or the Bermuda Triangle,” Taylor said. “And if anyone messes with the Bermuda Triangle, Jacob’s going to tech fall you, Chase is going to pin you, and Ty’s going to beat you by one point only.”

Taylor then laughed and said, “It’s true.”

Most of his matches go the full six minutes, like Thursday’s, after which he said, “I’m tired. Exhausted, actually.”

But he was feeling good, especially after losing both of his matches at state as a sophomore.

“I think I got complacent last year. I thought, ‘I made it here. Good job,’ ” Taylor said. “This year it’s, ‘I made it here. Now go get what you’re here for, and that’s to finish in the top six.’ “

Taylor was one of five local wrestlers to win first-round matches and six to advance to the quarterfinals. Seely didn’t have to wrestle Thursday because he didn’t have an opponent and received a bye.

The other quarterfinalists are Central freshman Riley Garner-Orr (113) and a trio of juniors from Grand Junction, Isaac Rider (138), returning state champion Jacob Trujillo (160) and Tyler Zook (220).

Garner-Orr entered his freshman season with people telling him he’d go to state and win matches there.

He wasn’t so sure about that, having doubts about even getting to Denver, but he took
Step 1 last weekend when he qualified for state, and he took Step 2 on Thursday, winning his opening match 2-0 over Douglas County junior Jack Bullock.

Garner-Orr had beaten Bullock previously, 5-3 at the Warrior Classic in December, but Thursday’s match was closer yet, scoreless after two periods. The two points came when Garner-Orr tilted Bullock with about 1:20 remaining. His hold on Bullock was tenuous, so he needed to seize the moment.

“I didn’t expect to get him over, but when I did, I figured ‘I’ve got to get it right here, right now, if I’m going to win,’ and then I’d have to ride him out from there,” Garner-Orr said.

With more than a minute of riding to do, Garner-Orr didn’t get warned for stalling until nine seconds remained. Then, he kept Bullock from getting away during a last, desperate attempt to escape or get a reversal.

“That kid was tough and was hard to hold down,” said Garner-Orr, who improved to 33-7.

Now, he faces another familiar opponent today, Ponderosa senior Hayden Karren (28-10), who beat Garner-Orr 2-0 at the Arvada West Tournament.

“I feel I’m way better than I was before,” Garner-Orr said of the rematch. “I feel I’m better conditioned. I feel my technique is sharper. I just have to go out and wrestle my best. … I’m going to wrestle my hardest and see what that gets me.”

Rider’s appearance at state is his third, and each one has been in a different class. He wrestled in Class 3A for Rifle as a freshman, and the next year Rifle moved up to Class 4A. Then, he moved to Grand Junction, and Rider (19-4) opened the Class 5A state tournament by pinning his man in 2 minutes, 43 seconds.

Grand Junction coach Cole Allison told Rider after the match he needs to harness his nervous energy, and he’ll be better yet.

“Isaac looked good once he calmed down,” Allison said. “He gets excited like a ball of fire and burns out 30 seconds into the match.”

Trujillo (25-1) controlled his match throughout and won 11-3, but he and Allison said it wasn’t his best effort, and he’ll need to be more focused the rest of the way.

Zook (33-8) opened his first state meet by pinning his opponent with one second left in the first period.


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