Pirates wrestler Wyatt Mansker let his emotions go following his third-period pin in the championship round of the regional tournament Saturday afternoon.
Olathe High School’s 160-pound grappler ran over to hug his uncle and assistant coach Ty Gray and then sprinted over to his parents ringside to embrace them as well.
As a junior, Olathe High School’s 160-pound grappler secured a first-place regionals win inside the Montrose County Event Center, as well as his first trip to the Class 3A state tournament next week at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
“It was really special to have them down on the mat,” said Mansker of celebrating the victory with his mother and father. “Some parents don’t even come so to have them down on the mat was pretty special.”
The Class 3A regionals were held Friday and Saturday at the event center. The top four wrestlers of each weight class at regionals would advance to state from Feb. 21-23.
Mansker had to battle to get the win against his Alamosa competitor as he first found himself down 2-0 early in the first period. He was able to come back in the second, tallying a pair of takedowns which gave him a 5-3 lead heading into the final period.
The Olathe wrestler may have been winning, but he knew he had to get a pin to seal the regionals victory. Mansker stayed aggressive and, in a flash, got the takedown and the fall midway through the third period.
“He had a great performance this weekend,” coach Tee Jay Rose said. “He’s been wrestling tough for us all year.”
Mansker is one of four OHS grapplers to punch his ticket to state. Clay Yarnell (145), Elias Ramirez (138) and Brent Gray (152) finished in second, third and fourth place, respectively in their weight classes.
The Pirates may only take four grapplers to state, but the roster from top to bottom “battled” both days, Rose said.
Like Mansker, this will be Gray’s first time going to the end-of-the-year tournament, while Yarnell will make his third trip and Ramirez, his second.
Olathe, as a team, finished in fifth behind Alamosa, Pagosa Springs, Rifle and Montezuma-Cortez, who took the 1-4 spots, respectively. OHS also competed against Moffat County, Grand Valley, Bayfield, Delta, Steamboat Springs, Basalt, Glenwood Springs, Coal Ridge and Gunnison.
Rose said, for Mansker and Gray who haven’t competed at the Pepsi Center, having regionals at the event center gives them an idea of what the experience is like to compete at a bigger venue. But being a newcomer state can be “spooky,” he added.
“When you get down there on the floor, it’s a little different,” Rose said. “But you’ve got to go out and perform next week.”
The Olathe coach praised Ramirez’s athleticism, saying the fact he hasn’t wrestled for two seasons, and still qualified for state, speaks volumes for his natural abilities.
Not every outcome for the Pirates came out on their end. Timoteo Pena (170) and Chase Sale (285) each just came up short to make the trip to Denver, as both finished in fifth place.
There’s no question Mansker has high hopes for the final tournament of the season. The Olathe wrestler said he wants to continue his hot streak and maybe defeat a few opponents he lost to earlier this year.
“I’m feeling pretty confident coming out as a No. 1 (regional wrestler),” Mansker said. “That surely helps. I’m hoping to get some rebound matches against some of the kids who I lost to.”
Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ sports/business writer. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.