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Wrestling: Silver Creek’s Dunlavy gunning to go out with bang

Silver Creek 195-pound senior is aiming to go out with a bang in his first trip to the state wrestling tournament after winning a regional title last weekend.
Silver Creek 195-pound senior is aiming to go out with a bang in his first trip to the state wrestling tournament after winning a regional title last weekend.

LONGMONT — Nate Dunlavy was supposed to be here last year. Everything was set up perfectly, and all Dunlavy had to do was seal the deal.

Although Dunlavy developed into one of the standout contributors for a Silver Creek football team that reached the Class 3A state title game this past fall, wrestling has always been his first love, the sport Dunlavy has competed in since he was 4 years old. And when the 2011 regional tournaments rolled around, Dunlavy was on pace to fulfill his lifelong dream by earning his first berth in the state finals.

Dunlavy was seeded accordingly, but things soon fell apart in heartbreaking fashion. A 7-6 loss sent Dunlavy into the dreaded fifth-sixth place match, which he lost by the aggravating score of 1-0.

By only two points, Dunlavy missed what he figured was a golden opportunity to compete on the sport’s biggest stage at the Pepsi Center. This year, Dunlavy made certain there was no doubting his state invitation, winning the 195-pound title at the Class 4A Region 4 tournament on Saturday.

Dunlavy, a senior, will be the Raptors’ lone entrant when the state tournament begins Thursday at the Pepsi Center.

“That burned for a long time,” Dunlavy said of last year’s shortcoming. “Being able to come back and win regionals and go to state really feels good. It’s definitely burned in the back of my mind. It’s one of those things you can’t get over. When you’re so close to getting there, it just sticks with you.”

Dunlavy has finally reached his goal, although his path to redemption endured a slow start.

Because of the Raptors’ march into the 3A title game, Dunlavy competed in his final Silver Creek football game on Dec. 3, the same weekend the Raptors’ wrestling squad competed in its first meet of the season. The following week, he took his official visit to Fort Lewis College, where he will continue his gridiron career in the fall.

By the time Silver Creek reconvened after the holiday hiatus, Dunlavy remained somewhat green in matters pertaining to the mats. However, Raptors coach Mike Silva believes the staggered start to Dunlavy’s season has been a “blessing in disguise,” allowing the senior to lick his football wounds while still providing ample time for Dunlavy to peak at the most opportune time of the wrestling season.

“The beauty of Nate right now is he is peaking,” Silva said. “He’s wrestling his best. His condition is where he needs to be. He’s healthy, he’s strong, his weight his good, his draw is good. Everything is real positive for him to make a good run in the tournament.

“Nate is one who is pretty seasoned. He did miss all the way up to the first competition. But he was still a little banged up, so we had to get through that. It’s got him to where he’s peaking now. A lot of times you see guys peak the second week after Christmas, and then they have to rebound and get back to where you want to be.”

Last week’s regional title assures that Dunlavy will enter the penultimate competition of his wrestling career on a high note. Dunlavy has compiled a 22-4 mark going into his first-round match against Lewis-Palmer senior Joshua Glenn, and he was ranked sixth in the Class 4A 195-pound division by On the Mat rankings heading into the regional tournaments.

“Winning the regional definitely gave me some momentum,” Dunlavy said. “I had some tough matches in the region, and being able to go out and get some wins against those guys, it feels good and gives you some confidence.

“I’ve been wrestling since I was four. Obviously football is my best sport, but wrestling has always been there. It’s a sport I can go out and compete in just for myself. I’m going to go out and enjoy it. I’ve had fun this senior year and I’m going to see how far I can take this thing.”

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