Scott Kaniewski Michael Miller knew what to expect this time around. A year removed from his first trip to the Class 5A state wrestling tournament, …
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Michael Miller knew what to expect this time around. A year
removed from his first trip to the Class 5A state wrestling
tournament, the Heritage High School junior wrestled his way into
the third-place match Feb. 21.
Miller pinned Legacy’s Chris Wessel 51 seconds into the first
period to put him into the match for third-place, sending Miller
leaping into the stands to hug family.
He stayed in the stands for several minutes, sitting on the
steps between colonnades, wearing his singlet, his headgear askew
on his head. He sat there soaking up the win and the knowledge he’d
earned the chance to wrestle for third place.
“I dreamed about winning these matches,” Miller said. “So when
it happened my mom called me in [to the stands] so I jumped up in
Had he seen any other wrestler leap into the stands before?
“No,” he said and laughed. “She started screaming at me so I
Not only had he won, but he’d beaten an opponent that had three
times topped Miller.
“I’d wrestled him a couple times before,” Miller said. “He beat
me three times this year. So I was really excited.”
In the battle for third-place Miller was again dominant. He
built a 9-3 lead after the first two periods, scoring all nine
points in the middle frame. He twice nearly pinned Central-Grand
Junction’s Daniel Rodgriguez. Instead, he won by decision,
Miller reached the semifinals a night earlier but lost to
Chaparral High’s Caleb McDowell in the semifinals of the 130-pound
division. McDowell finished as the state runner-up.
Other than the match against McDowell, Miller dominated. He won
his first two bouts by a combined score of 27-4, cruising into the
Last season, Miller, then a sophomore, said he was just happy to
be at the state meet. This time was a little different.
“Last year, I was so nervous I nearly forgot to breathe,” Miller
He qualified for the third-place bout with a great pin.
Following a reversal that scored Miller a pair of points, he worked
his way around Wessel and locked his arms around Wessel’s neck and
leg. With Wessel tied up in a cradle, Miller pinned him. He
finished with just four losses on the season, a record of 40-4.
The top two finishers in the 130-pound division are both
seniors, thrusting Miller into the pole position for next
“I hope so,” Miller said when asked if he would be the favorite
next year. “It’s going to be good.”
Miller’s teammates didn’t have as much success. Four Eagles
joined Miller on the trip to the Pepsi Center. Only senior Jake
Holley [34-13] came close to medaling. He won his first bout in the
135-pound division before falling into the consolation bracket.
Another pair of wins had the Eagle one victory away from the medal
round. But Holley fell to Grand Junction’s Jessie
Tolan Durant [19-18] in the 171-pound division, Al Erle [32-8]
at 285 pounds and Logan Steppan [30-11] at 215 pounds, also
qualified for the state tournament for Heritage.
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