Two years ago, Eaton wrestling took home the 2A State Championship. Last year, the Reds were runner-ups at state, and this year, Eaton’s wrestling season has started off strong with the Reds dominating the mat.
The Reds’ season started with the Chuck Annand tournament in Akron, followed by a home dual against the University Bulldogs and the Charlie Lake Duals and Invitational tournament at Cheyenne East High School.
As of Dec. 6, CHSAANow ranked the Reds wrestling as first in 3A teams. Alex Castaneda (22) ranked first in the 132 division, Ryan Dirksen (22) ranked first in the 170-pound division, and Ryder True (23) ranked fourth in the 220-pound division.
The Reds won their dual against the Bulldogs 59 to 6 in team points. Castaneda, Preston Smith (24), Jake Hergenreter (23), and Quirt Carroll (24) won their matches by pin, earning the Reds six points over the Bulldogs.
“Based on the past four years, as a coaching staff, we have very high expectations. Obviously, the goal is to have as many state champions as we can and bring home a team state championship,” Head Coach Tony Mustari said. “We schedule other classification teams, like 4A and 5A schools, in tournaments just so we know what kind of competitions we need to train for, and where we need to get as a team.”
The Reds traveled up to Cheyenne on Friday, Dec. 10, and Saturday, Dec. 11.True, Cal Sidwell (25), and Lucas Cass (22) made it into the finals, earning second place. Dirksen and Castaneda won their weight classes – winning them each a medal and assisting the team in their team victory at the tournament.
“We did really well on scoring bonus points. When we had guys on their back, we were pinning them, and if we needed to get a major decision, we scored another takedown,” Coach Mustari said.
True said his hardest match was his “finals match because that kid was really good, and he was a state runner-up. It pushed me a lot, and it was a tough match. I pushed the pace and showed how conditioned I was and it pushed me to be better.”
Castaneda wrestled in the 138-pound weight division during the tournament. His round one match and quarterfinals were won by pin. Castaneda was able to pin his quarterfinal opponent in 1:30. His semifinal and first place match were both won off of decision, earning Castaneda first place in his weight class.
“On Friday, during the duals, I had a really tough match against this one kid from Colorado that I lost. The next day, I just made a better mindset to beat that kid in finals the next day,” said Castaneda. “The match I am most proud of was the match where I beat the kid that beat me the day before just because I wasn’t feeling too good, had to weigh in at a lower weight than everybody, and had all the odds against me almost. I came back and beat that kid. When I threw him to his back in the very beginning of the match, that was a good press for me.”
Dirksen dominated his bracket at the Charlie Lake Invitational tournament by pinning all of his opponents. His fastest pin occurred in his semifinal match where he pinned his opponent in a little over a minute. Dirksen won a personal championship title two years ago when he was a sophomore.
The Cheyenne East tournament attracted teams from Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. The Reds overcame all these teams with 139 team points. Second place went to Thompson Valley with 135 points.
The Reds season will continue with the Reds traveling to the University of Northern Colorado over Dec. 17 and 18 for the Colorado Christmas tournament. After Christmas break, the Reds are scheduled to battle the Highland Huskies on Jan. 6.
As the Reds wrestling season is off to a great start, Eaton is hoping to continue to have a prosperous season and end the season with titles in their hands. With their first-place ranking and wrestlers in high ranks, only time will tell what is in store for the Reds this wrestling season.