While Schlattmann found success at 145 pounds, Dawson McEwan faced a tough path to victory at 182.
“We got put on the toughest side of the bracket,” Sanford said. “If we would have won the region, we wouldn’t have been on that side and would have probably had a much better shot at making finals.”
According to Sanford, McEwan made the best of his difficult situation. His first match against Wright’s Hunter Worman was simple — he controlled his opponent for the duration of the match and got the pin within the first period.
McEwan’s troubles began against Moorcroft’s Tucker Allison — an upset No. 1 seed from regionals.
“We had talked a couple of times about what we needed to do,” Sanford said. “We needed to not make a big mistake and just wrestle smart.”
Sanford said that Allison is such a tough opponent because he plays to his strengths. While he may not be the strongest or quickest opponent, he knows how to run moves from a variety of positions.
McEwan started the first period off smart, staying on his feet for a majority of and shutting him down when he tried to score. The two ended the first period tied at zero — something that Sanford said frustrated Allison.
Capitalizing on that frustration, McEwan scored a takedown at the start of the second.
“We have a problem when we’re on top,” Sanford said. “We’re not good at breaking guys down and turning them.”
While the takedown gave McEwan some much-needed points, Sanford said it opened up an opportunity for Allison to move on.
“We got out of position and he got us high — he could definitely feel it,” Sanford said. “Instead of running away from him and giving him a point for an escape, we hung on to it, dumped us on our back and pinned us.”
Sanford said fighting from the back has been a problem for the team throughout the season.
McEwan’s second round consolation match was relatively straightforward; he took his opponent down early in the first period and got the pin soon after.
Advancing to the third, McEwan faced Southeast’s Bryan Baker — an opponent neither he nor Sanford had seen before.
“We started off in control of the match and were doing a pretty good job of it,” Sanford said, adding that McEwan was doing what he needed to do to win the match.
As it went on however, a misstep in the third period almost cost him the match.
“We had a good lead but got rolled to our back,” Sanford said. “Thankfully we were able to fight off our back — we didn’t get tied up and held on.”
According to Sanford, McEwan and Baker tied at the end of the third period, triggering overtime. Thankfully, McEwan was able to shake off his minor flub and emerge dominant.
“He got up, got ready to go, and ended up taking him down pretty quickly,” Sanford said. “It was a good win, but bad that we put ourselves in that position.”
McEwan squared off against Glenrock’s Kia Sexson, the wrestler who upset Allison at regionals, in the semifinals. Sanford conceded to be worried about Sexson until he witnessed the grappler on the mat.
“He wasn’t good on his feet and that’s where we excel,” he said.”
Thankfully, the match was relatively straightforward.
“We took him down a couple of times and reversed him once,” Sanford said. “We rode him, didn’t get ourselves rolled or let him do much to us — It was a pretty solid win to get into third and fourth.”
For the runner-up match, McEwan faced a former 195 pound regional champion: John Sullivan of Sundance.
“We were doing a lot of smart things,” Sanford said of the beginning of the match. “I felt like we were the one bringing the action.”
McEwan controlled the pace of the match for roughly five minutes, dominating his opponent throughout. However, the last 15 seconds of the third quarter proved telling.
“We messed up,” Sanford said, explaining that when McEwan dropped to his knee that he took the pressure off his opponent. “We were hanging off the side and got caught in a roll and put on our back. If we had fought off our back — even for two more seconds — we would have been tied.”
“It’s something we’ve done,” Sanford added. “His inexperience really hurts him.”
Regardless of the result, Sanford commended McEwan’s willingness to compete at a higher weight class.
“He wanted to go up to 182 because he thought he would have the best shot,” he said. “He was willing to face that challenge — I admire him for going against it.”
Despite being their last match of the season, other wrestlers used State to gauge how far they had come.
At 132 pounds, Felipe Gaytan went 1–2 for the tournament. Winning his first match against Wyoming Indian’s William Carpenter, Gaytan advanced to the second round of the championship bracket. His aspirations were cut short with back-to-back losses in the quarterfinal and second round consolation.
At 152 pounds, Jovani Garay also scored a first round win, pinning Wyoming Indian’s Monaire Guina in a rematch from Regionals. Like Gaytan, Jovani Garay would lose both subsequent matches, ending the state tournament 1–2.
Carlos Garay and Bryant Davis struggled at 152 and 160, respectively, both going 0–2 in their division.
With a 2–2 record, Dade Greene held his own at 190. While he won his first match relatively easily, a second round matchup against Moorcroft’s Solomon Petz — the eventual state champion — cost him a spot in the semifinals. Greene would win once against Shoshoni’s Gabe Cash before losing to Glenrock’s Josh Burrus in a 3–1 decision.
At 220 pounds, Austin Paxton received a first round bye to advance him to the quarterfinals. Once there, Paxton fell to Glenrock’s Cooper Fargen (Fargen would go on and place third in the weight class). A win over Shoshoni’s Ethan Highsmith and loss to Moorcroft’s Lane Mosteller cost Paxton his bracket.
Looking back on the season, Sanford said the returning boys — especially the freshmen — would need some work going into the off season.
“It’s tough if haven’t wrestled as a younger kid,” Sanford said. “We’re really going to need to make big steps before next year.”