By Charles Whisnand
Appeal Sports Editor
It was a good news bad news scenario for the Carson High wrestling team at the Northern 4A Championships.
The Senators overachieved as a team, placing a higher-than-expected third behind zone champion Damonte Ranch and Fallon. But the Senators were also able to qualify only four wrestlers for this weekend's NIAA 4A State Championships at Cimarron-Memorial.
"We were happy to be in the top three," Carson coach Tyson Thivierge said. "I feel like we could have had seven qualify. I thought we wrestled well. I just think we could have taken seven to state."
But Thivierge said he expects all four of his wrestlers (Nick Schlager, 112 pounds), Todd Banko (130), Martin Azzam (145) and Garret Truesdell (189) to do well this weekend. The quarterfinals will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, with the semifinals and finals to be held on Saturday.
All four wrestlers have the chance for rematches in the state finals against wrestlers who beat them at last week's zone event. Schlager almost pulled off the upset of the zone tournament when he lost to Damonte Ranch's Garrett Hekhuis in overtime in the finals. The two could end up meeting each other again in the state finals.
"I wasn't surprised that it was that close," Thivierge said. "He's a smart wrestler. He's been wrestling really smart.
"He wrestled a very smart match. He wrestled his butt off. We were very pleased with that."
Banko is a multiple-state qualifier and took third at state two years ago. This is his last chance for a state title. He lost to Galena's Jeremy Wilson in the semifinals at zone, but was able to come back to finish third to qualify for state. Banko could also end up facing Wilson in the state finals.
"He knows what he's got to do to win," Thivierge said. "He's got a great shot of winning."
Azzam lost to Fallon's Trent DeBraga in the zone finals. Azzam can be encouraged by the fact that he is gradually closing ground on DeBraga since losing to him by technical fall in the Capital City Duals. Azzam could also meet DeBraga in the state finals.
"Martin's improved every time he's wrestled that kid," Thivierge said. "Martin's very strong, very quick, a very tough wrestler. He's looking forward to (state)."
Truesdell lost to Reed's Brandon Gebhardt in the zone finals and those two could meet in the state finals.
"He wrestled smart this weekend," Thivierge said. "He should be capable of making it to finals."
Thivierge said all four of his wrestlers have received favorable draws. "Every single of of them going to state has got a shot," said Thivierge about making it to finals. "If they just go out and wrestle a very physical style, they'll succeed."
While he stopped short of saying all four wrestlers should make the finals, Thivierge did say he expected every one of his wrestlers to place, which would mean at least a fourth place finish.
"I think they all have a very good shot to make the finals," Thivierge said. "They all have to wrestle solid, mistake-free. Every single one of these guys should be placing."