Potential – a noun meaning qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success – is a word often used to describe athletes. From the first of the season, the Monticello High School wrestling coaches believed that the 2013-14 team had potential. They knew the team had what it would take to bring the state championship trophy home to Monticello. But they also knew that to reach their potential they would have to work together, have the mindset of champions, and that every member of the team would be vitally important.
Having come in second in the team race for the past two seasons, the seven seniors on the team wanted nothing more than to end their last night as an MHS wrestler as team champions. They, and every member of their team, put their potential to work for 16 long, grueling weeks. When the final points were tallied, the MHS Buckaroo wrestlers, all 20 of them, stood together atop the podium and realized their potential, while claiming the honor of 2014 State Wrestling Champions.
The Buckaroos came into the tournament with the mindset of champions, believing that they could dethrone the four-time championship team from Altamont. The Bucks started out strong and held a good lead early in the tournament. That lead began to dwindle, with Altamont coming to within eight points after the consolation finals. However, the Longhorns could not overcome the strength of the Buckaroos in the finals where five MHS wrestlers, Austin Wilcox, Cole Eldredge, Hunter Bowring, Brandon Musselman and Jake Giles, all earned individual championships.
The Buckaroos finished with 205 points, and a strong 25-point victory over second place Altamont, with 180.5 points, and far outpaced third place Wayne with 123.5 points. The Buckaroos took 15 wrestlers to the state tournament and brought home 10 medals. At the end of the day, the other 1A coaches recognized Coach Kent Adair by awarding him the 1A Coach of the Year. In addition to the honor for Adair, the Buckaroos swept the tournaments special awards for the first time in school history, as Cole Eldredge and Hunter Bowring were honored with both Outstanding Wrestler awards for the tournament. Bowring and teammate Austin Wilcox were also honored for their hard work off the mat, receiving Academic All-State honors.
Senior Austin Wilcox won his third State Championship medal for the Bucks in a strong performance. Wilcox dominated his opponent, winning by fall in only 52 seconds and earning the fastest finals win for any wrestler in all five classifications. Wilcox cruised through the tournament winning both early matches by fall in under 30 seconds.
Also becoming a three time State Champion on the night is Cole Eldredge. With wins by fall in the first period of both early rounds, Eldredge brought that same intensity in the finals, winning by fall in just over a minute. Eldredge returns next year for a final season and a chance to become just the second four-time state champion for MHS.
Hunter Bowring earned his second state championship for the Buckaroos. Bowring won by fall in both early round matches on his way to the finals. Facing the same Piute wrestler he defeated in a close match at the region championships, Bowring was behind 5-2 going into the third period. Bowring fought back with a vengeance, putting his opponent on his back and winning by fall in an exciting finish.
Brandon Musselman made his third trip to the finals for the Buckaroos and won his first state championship medal in an exciting match. Musselman took control of his opponent early, racking up points before sealing the win with an early second period fall. Brandon won by fall in the first round and had a big 13-3 win in the semi-final round.
Senior Jake Giles made the most of his final state tournament, making his first trip to the center mat and dominating his opponent in a first round win by fall to take the title. Giles had a tough road to the finals. In his semi-final match, he fell behind 2-0 early in the match and fought hard from the bottom for nearly two periods. As the clock ran out in the third period, the official awarded him a point for stalling by his opponent and Giles won the close 3-2 victory. Giles won by fall in the first round.
Two other Buckaroos earned the chance to wrestle on the center mat for a championship, and earned well-deserved second place medals in their weight classes. Chance Weahkee wrestled tough throughout the tournament, winning by fall in round one and beating teammate Shandon Bradford for the first time this year in the semi-finals. Weahkee came out strong in the finals and left his heart on the mat in a tough 10-5 loss. Eric Anderson was strong for the Buckaroos with two big wins by fall on his way to the finals where he faced a two time state champion with determination but was defeated by fall in a tough loss.
In the consolation championships, three Buckaroos earned much-needed key points for the team race. Shandon Bradford, Dailyn Warren and Parker Knudson each suffered tough second round losses, but came back with strong wins to stay alive and make their way to the medal round. All three earned exciting wins by fall in their final two matches and brought home third place medals for the Bucks.
Monticello also got a little help in their quest for the team title from Brandon Lansing of Whitehorse High School. Lansing came all the way back through the tournament after a first round loss to defeat the #1 ranked wrestler in the weight from Altamont by fall. The win was over the same wrestler who defeated him in round one.
Buckaroos Brandin Clark, Drew Baird, Curtis Baird and McKayd LaRose wrestled hard for the Buckaroos and each scored a win, but fell just one match short of a medal at the tournament. Jose Santana also wrestled for the Bucks and shared in the glory of the team championship.
Chandler Draper, Clayton Westcott, Isiah Sheeran, Alma Beh, and Dustin Christensen did not wrestle at the tournament but worked hard all season long. The Bucks will graduate seven, but have a strong group of incoming freshmen next season.