DENVER -- Ladd Bunker admitted he perhaps was caught looking ahead during his quarterfinal-round bout. By the time the Erie junior recovered, it was too late to save his state title dreams.

Bunker and Tigers teammate Brandon Wetsch were eliminated from title contention during a frustrating quarterfinal round on Friday afternoon at the Class 4A state wrestling tournament at the Pepsi Center. Bunker, who had been aiming for a drive toward the state final at 160 pounds, fell behind early against Falcon's Kyle Soulka and never recovered.

Bunker trailed 6-2 going into the final frame but rallied to within 6-5 with almost a full minute remaining in the bout. The comeback, however, proved too draining, as Soulka regained his advantage to post a 9-5 win.

"I think I kind of underestimated him," Bunker said. "I'd never really heard of him before and I just kind of walked out there with the thought, 'It's just a quarterfinal match, how tough can it be?' He caught me on my heels and I got into a place I shouldn't have been."

Wetsch, a junior, met a similar fate in the quarterfinals at 132 pounds, dropping a 10-4 decision against Pueblo West sophomore Travis Myers.

"I think (Bunker) kind of wrestled (Soulka's) type of match, instead of the style Ladd is used to being in," Erie coach Steve Gratton said. "He didn't do all of the normal things that we see him do in his matches. He didn't put anything together. That was sort of disappointing.

"It was the same way with Brandon. Brandon was out of position a few times, and you can't be that way here in the quarters."

Bunker and Wetsch each won their next bouts to reach the third round of the consolation brackets on Saturday.

Two other Tigers wrestlers who dropped their opening round matches on Thursday experienced mixed results in the consolation bracket on Friday. While 106-pounder Anthony Nieto was eliminated after getting pinned by Mullen's Vincent Hoffman, 145-pounder William Schell posted a 9-5 win against Palisade's Dylan Burgett before getting eliminated by Pueblo County's Keenan Wyatt.


COUGARS TAMED

Niwot's Clay Robinson and Joey Lambert were unable to parlay the momentum of their first-round wins, as each wrestler suffered losses during Friday's quarterfinals.

"It's a thing where we're all striving for a state championship, and that loss comes, you have to get it in your head it's not over," Niwot coach Scott Sanchez said. "There still is wrestling to be had and you still want to place. One loss isn't going to stop us from competing."

Robinson rebounded in the 4A consolation bracket at 106 pounds, posting a 10-4 win against Elizabeth's Tyler Erzen to remain in the medal hunt. Lambert was eliminated when he was pinned by Rifle's Coy Zang.


MCQUADE, COLUCCI ELIMINATED

Preston McQuade put up a strong fight Friday at the PepsiCenter, but could not avoid elimination from the Class 5A statetournament.

The Monarch 120-pounder pushed into the third period against Lakewood's Isaac Dinette in the first round of the consolation brackets. But Dinette got the better of McQuade, pinning the sophomore in 4:39.

Boulder's lone qualifier also was eliminated from 5A action on Friday, with 220-pounder Theo Colucci losing his second match of the tournament.

The Boulder 220-pounder lost to Regis' Nick Elgin when the Regis wrestler pinned him in the first period.

 

NOTABLE

Lyons had three of its four state wrestlers eliminated from the Class 2A field. The lone exception was heavyweight David Plute, who pinned Tyson Smith of Dove Creek to remain contention for a medal. ... Lyons' 170-pounder Jon Hickman competed in one of the day's most entertaining matches, dropping a 12-11 decision against Swink's Anthony Mendoza in the second round of the consolations. ... Frederick 113-pounder Jesse Ortiz suffered a narrow 5-4 quarterfinal round loss against Thompson Valley's Collin Williams and was eliminated with a 5-0 defeat against Durango's Matthew Lavengood.

Follow Pat on Twitter: @prooney07