DENVER — It was a must.
That's all there is to it.
For Fairview senior Duncan Heath, a torn labrum suffered his junior year ultimately tore him away from the state wrestling tournament, as he had the confidence that he had turned a corner.
All this season was about wrestling on the mats at the Pepsi Center in this weekend's Class 5A tournament, and he was able to surpass even his own expectations by making the 195-pound semifinals in his first year qualifying.
The semifinals match against Cherokee Trail's Zeke Silva was a third-period fall, but Heath will still get to wrestle for a chance at third place Saturday — a position that has proved his determination.
"For me, getting here kind of means everything because ever since the injury this place was the goal that I set for myself, as a need to end up here," Heath said after his semis match. "I was planning on going as a junior. Maybe not winning it all but going and making a name for myself and follow up with a great season. That was taken away from me, so I had to make my mark now in this one."
Anyone who knows Heath knows he plays football in the trenches, and getting back to that this fall was monumental for him. But some many may not know he's an accomplished guitar player, as well.
Electric, acoustic, rock or jazz — Heath has dabbled in all of it.
Truth be told, playing the guitar was one of his only outlets as he recovered from surgery to repair the labrum.
"For four weeks after surgery, I was in a sling so I couldn't even do that," Heath said. "But as soon as I was out of the sling, I picked it back up and it really did help me (cope) until I was able to get back exercising. Honestly, it helped a ton."
When he got back to work this season, and even up until the state tournament, he was an under-the-radar kind of kid.
But with a 7-4 decision of Poudre's Cole Yung in the quarterfinals, Heath assured himself a top-six placing. Silva, a senior who came in 30-2, put Heath in a vulnerable position early in the semis and Heath was not able to recover.
But he didn't have his head down for long.
"You win and lose with dignity, and if you lose you keep your head on and go to the next match," Heath said. "It just comes and goes, honestly."