Denver They came close, oh so close, but Saturday night's championship finals at the state wrestling tournament in Denver's Pepsi Center proved to be magical for someone else.
A trio of Routt County wrestlers, one from each of the area's three schools, made the finals, highlighting what was one of the best county performances at the state tournament in a decade.
Jace Logan, a sophomore 152-pounder from Soroco, and Hayden Johnson, Steamboat's 160-pound junior, both made the finals for the second-consecutive year. Hayden senior Christian Carson, at 195 pounds, made his first trip there.
Their matches all ended the same, however. Logan and Johnson both came up short last year and again on Saturday, and Carson did, as well.
“It’s hard,” Logan said. “I really hate losing, and it’s the second time now.”
Logan and Carson both were within a whisker of earning that state championship.
Each fell only a point shy. Carson lost to John Mall High School’s Jason Murphy, 3-2. Logan lost to Norwood senior Hayden Harris, 4-3.
Carson trailed 3-1 in the third period, picked up a point when Murphy was called for a stall, but couldn’t find another, diving desperately for a takedown as time expired, two inches short of grabbing the leg he needed and two points shy of the championship he craved.
“We couldn’t quite get to the legs, but I can’t ask for anything more out of the kid,” coach Chad Jones said. “He gave his heart out there.”
Logan, too, went out diving for a takedown. He and Harris built a mighty rivalry this season, wrestling three times. Logan took the first, Harris the second and Logan the third, squeezing out a win in overtime last week at the regional championship.
Harris took the fourth matchup, certainly the one that carried the most weight.
It came down to the final seconds, but Logan said the key moment came much earlier, when Harris logged a first-period takedown.
“That was the deciding factor,” Logan said. “I had to keep catching up to him after that.”
He did manage that, even taking the lead, 3-2, with a reversal early in the second period. Harris managed to escape twice, however, first in that second period to tie things, 3-3, then early in the third, for what proved to be the winning point.
“He’s an outstanding wrestler, got his points and he deserved to win,” Logan said. “I’ve got two more years. Hopefully, we’ll get those championships.”
Johnson fell behind his opponent, Kolsen Welham of Holy Family, in the first period, then couldn’t ever find the offense he needed to catch up.
He trailed 7-0 after the first period, then 9-1 after the second. Welham managed to avoid Johnson’s shots and racked up points by turning the Sailor to his back.
Johnson lost, 13-3.
“I just couldn’t get it going,” Johnson said. “He got his going, and I was more reacting to his offense than I was getting mine going. It just wasn’t my match.”
Elsewhere, Soroco got two medals on the day. Lane Martindale won one more match in the consolation bracket at 145 pounds, then went on to finish sixth. Sky Carlson, at 195 pounds, lost twice in consolation action and also placed sixth.
Steamboat got a highlight from 145-pound junior Lance Bryant, who won his final match of the season to place fifth in his first trip to the state tournament.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9