DENVER — The moment that Grand Valley High School senior Will Hinkle has been anticipating for his entire prep wrestling career finally came on Thursday.
“My first state win,” Hinkle said. “Finally.”
Hinkle, a 160-pound wrestler who made his third trip to the 3A State Championships at the Pepsi Center, was able to take advantage of a mistake by JC Parsons of Pagosa Springs. He cradled him halfway through the first period for a pin at the 1 minute, 25 second mark of the match to advance to this morning’s state tournament championship round.
“I knew that if I had any opportunity to throw him, or pin him, or take a shot, I had to take it,” Hinkle said.
He did just that, becoming the first of two wrestlers from Garfield County to move into the tournament’s championship bracket. The other was Coal Ridge 170-pound junior Cristian Keith, who made quick work of Platte Valley’s Garret McCullar in 1:01.
Hinkle’s match didn’t look like it would end so quickly at first, though. Parsons countered a match-opening takedown with one of his own, and the pair went into the second half of the first period knotted at 2-2. Then after a restart from the up position Hinkle used the momentum from Parsons’ shot and rolled him on to his shoulders to net the pin.
“Oh man. I don’t even have words to describe how I feel,” Hinkle said. “After this, I feel like nothing’s stopping me at this tournament, and I can go out and get it.”
Keith simply overpowered McCullar, scoring an early takedown before bulling over the Platte Valley sophomore. And for Keith, the win was similar to Hinkle’s in how he went 0-2 at last year’s tournament.
“I’m definitely really motivated, and I know that I can accomplish a lot this year,” Keith said. “It’s a little stressful, but I know that I can get through it.”
His first chance will be this morning when the tournament continues at the Pepsi Center. Championship quarterfinals begin at 10 a.m. today, with semifinals for all classifications starting at 7:15 p.m. Consolation-round matches begin immediately after the quarterfinals.
Three county wrestlers — Grand Valley’s Bryan Hegwood (182) and Jacob Hegwood (126), and Coal Ridge’s Tristin Charboneau (126) will wrestle in consolation bouts after first-round losses on Thursday.
Bryan Hegwood lost 7-4 to Mario Morales of Lamar, falling behind 5-0 in the first period after Morales scored a takedown and a three-point nearfall. Hegwood wound up playing catch-up for the rest of the match. Morales, on the other hand, played it safe, stayed close to the ground to keep Hegwood from turning him and advanced.
Jacob Hegwood and Charboneau of Coal Ridge — who faced each other for third place at the Region 1 tournament this past week in Granby — both fell into the consolation bracket after losing their first-round matches.
Charboneau lost by technical fall to junior Dakota Macy of Fort Lupton. Charboneau, who beat Hegwood for third place in the regional, wasn’t able to score. He came close to recording a takedown in the beginning of the third period, but Macy closed out the match with one last takedown at the 4:11 mark.
Jacob Hegwood lasted the duration of his match before falling to third-seeded Ruben Lucero of Valley by major decision, 9-0. The Grand Valley junior managed to stay in the match until the halfway point of the second period, when a takedown and a three-point nearfall by Lucero gave him a 7-0 lead.
“Jake was a brawler,” Grand Valley coach Rick Gallegos said. “We didn’t go into that with high expectations, so he’s in pretty good spirits.”