Grapplers grind through busy week

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By Dan Johnson

At Conifer’s 10th annual LOBO Wrestling Invite on Jan. 26, Evergreen coach Steve Hitchens could tell his wrestlers were fading.

“This has been a busy week for us,” said Hitchens, whose team was competing for the third time in three days. “That’s a lot of wrestling to do in a short amount of time.”

Unfortunately for the Cougars, they didn’t get much of a breather the following week, as they competed on consecutive days at the end of the month.

While the work was daunting, the end results were nothing but good, as Evergreen swept a triangular meet at Clear Creek on Jan. 30, then defeated Alameda 44-36 in a dual on Jan. 31.

In the triangular meet, the Cougars got off to a great start, dominating Class 3A Platte Canyon 62-12. Following its win, Evergreen sat and watched while the Huskies and host Golddiggers battled down to the wire. Eventually, Clear Creek pulled through with a 54-48 victory, thanks to heavyweight Stephen Carr’s pinfall victory over Platte Canyon’s Jon Bellomy in what turned out to be the deciding match.

The final bout of the evening saw the Cougars and Golddiggers square off. There were more forfeits (eight) than bouts (five), but it really didn’t matter, as the Cougars won going away, 60-30.

Evergreen jumped out to an early 6-0 lead as Conner O’Neal won his 112-pound bout by pinfall in 3 minutes, 12 seconds. Several forfeits later, the Cougars’ lead expanded to 24-0.

Clear Creek cut the deficit in half thanks to a forfeit victory at 135 pounds, and a pinfall victory by Ryan Moser over Matt Marovich at 140 pounds.

Evergreen’s Wes Knoll and Clear Creek’s Tyler Toth had arguably the bout of the night, with both grapplers scoring near falls in the opening two minutes. In the second period, Knoll reversed a Toth takedown and after Toth put up a valiant struggle, Knoll pinned his shoulders to the mat at the 3:09 mark. The stick by Knoll put the Cougars out in front 36-18.

Chad Foutch won by pin at 160 pounds, as did Nick Keitlin at 171 pounds.

Clear Creek’s Neil Pearson pinned Rory Finnegan in 3:12. Evergreen won the 103- and 215-pound weight classes by forfeit, and Clear Creek picked up a forfeit victory at heavyweight.

In the dual against Alameda, Conner O’Neal, Tanner Nelson, Cody Martinez, Knoll, Foutch and Dylan Cisneros all were victorious. Nathan Phipps and Marovich won their bouts by forfeit.

The Cougars host mountain rival Conifer at 7 p.m. Feb. 7, with the Power Cup trophy on the line. Evergreen won last year’s meeting, 47-33.