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Wrestling: Young Mead team makes its mark at 4A state tournament

Mavericks sophomore Dalton Berg falls in semifinals

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 18, 2022: Emilio ...

    Emilio Trujillo-Deen, top, of Monarch, wins his 132 pound match with Joey Airola, of Boulder, during the semifinals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Denver on February 18, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Emilio Trujillo-Deen, of Monarch, wins his ...

    Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Emilio Trujillo-Deen, of Monarch, wins his 5A 132 pound match during the semifinals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Denver on Feb. 18, 2022.

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 18, 2022: Emilio ...

    Emilio Trujillo-Deen, of Monarch, wins his 5A 132 pound match during the semifinals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Denver on February 18, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 18, 2022: Ramon ...

    Ramon Salazar, of Erie, right, beats Jason Soto, of Pueblo Centennial at 4A 126 pounds during the semifinals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Denver on February 18, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 18, 2022: Ramon ...

    Ramon Salazar, of Erie, beats Jason Soto, of Pueblo Centennial at 4A 126 pounds during the semifinals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Denver on February 18, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 18, 2022: Jenna ...

    Jenna Joseph, of Mead, wins at 161 pounds in the girls division during the semifinals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Denver on February 18, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Jenna Joseph, of Mead, wins at ...

    Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Jenna Joseph, of Mead, wins at 161 pounds in the girls division during the semifinals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Denver on Feb. 18, 2022.

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 18, 2022: Brayden ...

    Brayden Bach, of Holy Family, is beaten by Samuel Rosales of Jefferson at 3A 106 pounds during the semifinals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Denver on February 18, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Ryan Vigil, of Broomfield, advances to ...

    Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Ryan Vigil, of Broomfield, advances to the finals at 4A 152 pounds during the semifinals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Denver on Feb. 18, 2022.

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 18, 2022: Dalton ...

    Dalton Berg, of Mead, lets Bryce Garcia, of Pueblo County, escape during the semifinals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Denver on February 18, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 18, 2022: Dillon ...

    Dillon Roman, of Monarch, wins at 5A 138 pounds during the semifinals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Denver on February 18, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Michael Brazeau, of Erie, left, loses ...

    Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Michael Brazeau, of Erie, left, loses to Bronco Harrison, of Roosevelt, during the semifinals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Denver on Feb. 18, 2022.

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DENVER — When Mead sophomore and 170-pounder Dalton Berg first went head-to-head with Pueblo County’s Bryce Garcia in December, he lost to the senior in a 12-4 major decision.

Be it his youth or just being out-matched, Berg used that loss to only grow stronger as the season progressed. When he came to face him during the semifinals of the Class 4A state semifinals on Friday night at Ball Arena, he was much more prepared.

“Coming into that match, everybody expects that kid to win so it’s getting offense going — because at the same time, you know that kid’s good so you don’t want to take bad shots, you don’t want to give him free points,” Berg said. “Getting offense going is a little tougher than against someone you think you should beat.”

Garcia still got the better of him in the end, but Berg made him work for each and every point in the 3-2 loss for the Mead wrestler.

He didn’t even qualify for the state tournament in 2021 due to COVID restrictions after placing fourth at his regional.

“It was a great match tactically, strategy-wise,” head coach Ty Tatham said. “He wrestled awesome but just had some trouble getting to the point where we could finish our shots. He wrestled really tough and it’s not over yet.”

Berg will be returning for the consolation matches on Saturday to vie for his final placement, but he was hardly the only Maverick to make a name for himself on Friday night.

It’s hard enough being a freshman in the 152-pound weight class at the 4A state tournament. It’s even harder when one has had to deal with injury after injury in the last two years that led to a large jump in his competition class.

“I gained a lot of weight during the period where I couldn’t work out and stuff, so it was quite a turn to try to figure out my style for this new weight that I had to wrestle at, but I think I figured it out and I think I’m doing pretty well for a freshman at 52s,” the Mead wrestler said.

DENVER, CO, February 18, 2022: Leister Bowling III, left, and his son, Leister Bowling IV, a wrestler from Mead High School, at State wrestling in Denver on February 18, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Luckily for Leister Bowling IV, he’s had his dad there to guide him along the way. Leister Bowling III won three state championships for Lyons High School back in his heyday and held the record for most pins, takedowns and wins in Colorado history with a 154-2 record. He served as one of the best wrestling coaches for the MMA and UFC as well as at the University of Northern Colorado.

Despite his youth in a weight class dominated by upperclassmen, the younger Bowling seems to be handling the competition just fine. He wrestled his way all to the quarterfinals, where he had to duel with the reigning 4A champion, Broomfield’s Ryan Vigil. Vigil pinned him with just 36 seconds left in the match.

“He’s an experienced senior, a pretty good wrestler, state champ of last year and I’m a freshman,” the Mead wrestler said. “152, it’s a pretty tough weight and I’m just trying to get better every day.”

All of the years of watching his father, and his father before him, seems to have prepared the young grappler well for what he could expect on Colorado high school’s biggest stage on Friday night. He may not have come out with a win, but he’ll be all the wiser for the experience when he hits the mats next season.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s related to a Colorado high school wrestling legend.

“He’s been exposed to a high level of sports since he was born,” the elder Bowling said. “He’s had world champions eat dinner at our house. He’s wrestled in the biggest tournaments in the country. He’s traveled for the last four or five years quite a bit and he puts in the mat time.

“He wrestles nine, 10 months a year. He wrestles over 100 matches every year and the 4A Colorado state tournament is not even close to the toughest tournament he’s wrestled in. Showing up here, it gives him that confidence and those different looks and he doesn’t freeze up under the lights like some of the freshmen do.”

With Berg and Bowling on the mat for the Mavericks for years to come — as well as sophomore Jake Glade, who qualified in the 138s — the future looks bright for Mead boys wrestling.

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