Seely, Hannigan stunned
Seely, Hannigan upset in quarterfinals
DENVER — Jacob Seely was seconds away from advancing to Friday night’s Class 5A state wrestling semifinals.
The undefeated and top-ranked Fruita Monument High School junior had stonewalled Arvada West’s Devin Rothrock at every turn and led 3-0, a lead that an escape or reversal by Rothrock wouldn’t overcome.
But it wasn’t big enough to stave off a reversal and near fall, which Rothrock got, making Seely’s lone mistake fatal.
Rothrock won 5-3, shocking Seely, who was one of the Grand Valley’s best bets to win a state title this year.
He wasn’t alone in his disappointment. Earlier in the Class 4A quarterfinals, Palisade senior Dalton Hannigan, a returning state champion, lost his 132-pound match against Pueblo South’s Marcus Martinez 1-0.
Seely (42-1) knew he was in a tough match from the outset and took his lead with a first-period takedown and a second-period escape. That brought the third period, and Seely came close to scoring back points a couple of times.
He continued to try to turn Rothrock, and Rothrock said he realized Seely’s hips were out of position, so he stepped over for a reversal with six seconds remaining and put Seely on his back for a three-point near fall as the buzzer expired.
“It was just a mistake,” Fruita Monument coach Dan Van Hoose said. “It’s tough to watch a kid dominate for five minutes, 45 seconds and lose.”
The match was the first of the tourney for Seely after receiving a bye Thursday when his first-round opponent couldn’t wrestle.
Van Hoose thought that made a difference, saying the first match is considered by many wrestlers to be the hardest, and it allows them to get past initial nerves and tightness.
Rothrock (23-2) injured one of his thumbs and lost his regional final, and said he dislocated it again during the middle of the match with Seely, whom he called “the best wrestler I wrestled all year.”
Rothrock added, “I’ve wrestled state champions from other states. No one’s given me a fight like that before.”
For Hannigan (13-2), the loss was another chapter in a frustrating season. An injured right ankle tormented him for most of the season. Last year, he finished with 42 matches. This year, he only has 15.
As his match ended, Hannigan took a moment on the mat, letting the impact of his one-point loss soak in. Hannigan’s quest for a second straight state title was over.
“I’m now just wrestling for pride,” he said 30 minutes after the loss.
Refusing to use his right ankle as an excuse, Hannigan said it wasn’t a factor in the match. But it was an overall factor.
“I just didn’t get the tough matches I needed coming into state,” he said. “You really need to wrestle those tough kids to get you ready.”
The match was tied 0-0 at the end of the first, then Martinez scored an escape for a 1-0 lead after the second period. Just like Hannigan’s 2-1 loss at regionals, he couldn’t work himself free for an entire period when he started on the bottom.
“I’m not taking it as hard because the kid is good, and I didn’t do anything stupid,” Hannigan said with a smile.
Coming in with only 13 matches, Hannigan was seeded eighth and faced the top-seeded Martinez in the quarterfinals.
“You have to beat everyone anyway, so it was just a tough loss,” he said.
In 2013, Hannigan won the 126-pound title to become the Palisade’s first state champion since 2003.