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A trio of Englewood's wrestlers, two of them new to the sport, faced the daunting challenge of wrestlers from 11 other teams seeking to go to state during the Pirate-hosted Class 3A Region 3 Wrestling Tournament Feb. 9 and 10.
“Two of our kids, freshman Jaheim Young and sophomore Ricardo Chinas, may be new to the sport but they have worked hard all season and I know they will do their best,” Englewood coach Lorenzo Moreno said as the tournament got underway. “Our third wrestler is senior Dwight Johnson, who has been wrestling for the Pirates since he was a freshman.”
Englewood's field house walls shook with cheers from the crowd and teammates as well as the advice yelled out by the coaches.
Regionals used a 16-wrestler, double-elimination bracket. All wrestlers competed in the first round, where the winners moved up to the next round of the championship bracket, which led to the weight-division regional championship.
Wrestlers who lost in the first round of the championship bracket moved to the consolation bracket with the opportunity to still go to state by finishing third or fourth. A second loss in the consolation bracket eliminated the wrestler from the tournament.
That is what happened to Young at 126 pounds and Chinas at 182 pounds.
Young lost in the first round but drew a bye in the first three rounds in the consolation bracket because there wasn't a full bracket at 195 pounds, so he was one of the final eight wrestlers in the consolation bracket. His bid to continue to wrestle ended when he lost the match with John Slowey of Steamboat Springs.
“This is my fourth year wrestling and it was tougher this season because I was at 195,” Anderson said. “I felt better at 182 but the coach said he felt I would be better at 195 so I moved up.”
He said wrestling has been educational. He said it has taught him to never quit fighting and trying.
“I also play football and wrestling has made me a better football player,” he said. “One of the biggest lessons wrestling taught me was to keep battling. Wrestling also taught me to be better at using leverage and using my hands when I play football.”
He said he is exploring the option of joining the Marines, but if that doesn't happen he plans to continue his education at Colorado State or the University of Colorado to major in computer engineering and accounting.
Moreno said he is proud of the way his wrestlers battled all season and at regionals.
“It has been tough, particularly for my two young guys who are wrestling for the first time,” he said. "But I am proud that they never backed down and they never quit. The same is true of Dwight (Johnson). He gave it his best effort every time he was on the mat. He worked hard, wrestled hard and should be proud of all he accomplished this season.”
Moreno, who is in his first year as the Pirates' head coach, wrestled for Englewood. He said he plans next season as a building year for the program.
“We will only wrestle a JV schedule next season,” he said. “That is because next season I expect I will have only one of my young guys on varsity back with me, all my three JV kids this year are freshmen and we expect to have three eighth-graders coming up from the youth team. So I think it is best we wrestle just a JV schedule because I don't want to have these young, inexperienced wrestlers to have to face varsity opponents. A JV season will give our young guys mat time in competition against wrestlers who, for the most part, will have a lot more experience and wrestling skill."
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