By Bobby Abplanalp
Journal Sports Editor
Yet, it seemed so far Dove Creeks Cole Baughman.
Tied 2-2 after two periods at the 2012 wrestling state finals in Denver, Baughman almost took the lead on multiple occasions in the third period.
However, Rocky Fords Adam Baca continued to escape, again and again.
Baughman ultimately settled for second-place at 120 pounds.
Last year when I won in the semis, I was so happy, he said. I think nerves kind of got to me last year during the (finals) match. I just wasnt wrestling my style.
Now a senior captain, Baughman is ready to take state. He is one of seven state returners on a stacked Dove Creek Bulldogs wrestling team.
I definitely want to get back in the state finals, Baughman said. I feel like with the team we have right now, we have a lot of competition in the (wrestling) room. I feel like thats going to help me a lot, too.
Dove Creek may challenge for a team state title of its own.
Weve got some good senior leadership and theyre pretty excited right now, Bulldogs coach Shane Baughman said. Theyve set some pretty high goals. They definitely want to be top-three as a team (at 2A state).
Cole Baughman will begin the year at 132 pounds, but plans to wrestle 126 by state.
Chance Randolph placed third at state last year in the 113-pound division. Hell wrestle in the 120 to 126 range. Older brother Dalton Randolph placed fifth at 138 in 2012. The senior has bulked up to 145.
Theres 16 kids in the Dove Creek wrestling room. Most of them played football for Shane Baughman, so getting in wrestling shape wasnt much of an issue. The Bulldogs have been grappling against each other and are barking to start the season.
Were always just ready to go at the first of the year, Cole Baughman said. We want to show what were about. Weve all been practicing hard these last three weeks after football. It kind of gets old beating up on each other. Were pretty stoked to get out there and start wrestling other people.
Nick Jones, a junior, has grown dramatically from 106 to 132 pounds. Disappointed with his state tournament performance last year, Jones is determined for redemption come February.
Hes going to try and gain a bunch of mass and strength. Hes really been working hard in the weight room, coach Baughman said about Jones. Hes looking really tough there at 132s.
Tyler Ebberts, 138-145 range; Wyatt Applin, 160-170; and, Tyson Smith, heavyweight, are the other state returners.
Freshmen Colin Hobbs, Connor Roussin, Austin Carter and Case Baughman provide good, youthful depth for the loaded Bulldogs.
Sophomore Tyler Knuckles, 182-195; and, juniors Tommy Fury (138-145) and Dillon Daves (145-152) will also be strong this season.
We could fill all of our weights in a dual, Shane Baughman said. We may be open one weight class, but we could probably fill all the weights. We got plenty of kids that will push each other.
Dove Creek opens its schedule at Montezuma-Cortez High School on Thursday, Nov. 29, in a tri-meet against a pair of 4A schools. Host Montezuma-Cortez and Aztec (N.M.) are the teams the 2A Bulldogs will face.
Dove Creek has dominated this tri-meet that last two seasons.
Those are two good, quality teams, Shane Baughman said. When it gets right down to it, one-on-one on the mat, there is no difference between 2A and 4A.
Dove Creek, the defending San Juan Basin League champions, will look to defend their title at rival Dolores High School on Feb. 7.
The close proximity to home is just fine with coach Baughman.
Thats good that its close, for the fans, especially, he said. Were used to traveling. We travel almost every weekend and travel all summer long. Its more of a fan thing. Its good for them to be able to come watch that.
Regionals are at Grand Junction Central on Feb. 15-16, and the state tourney is Feb. 21-23, at the Pepsi Center in Denver.