A Pepsi and a handful of smiles

Durango crowns three champions, will take five wrestlers to state

The future is bright, and the Demons’ present is a handful of wrestlers at next weekend’s CHSAA Class 4A Wrestling State Championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Durango High School finished fourth at the regional tournament Friday and Saturday at Eagle Valley High School in Gypsum, behind champion Roosevelt, runner-up Palisade and third-place Montrose.

“I was really hoping as a team to finish top two, but we brought 11 guys; those teams all had full squads to work with,” DHS head coach Doug Cuddie said. “We finished up pretty well.”

Durango finished with three regional champions, one runner-up and a fourth-place finish for five state qualifiers:

Trevor Gillen, senior, finished first at heavyweight.

Matthew Lavengood, freshman, finished first at 106 pounds.

Dillon Anthony, freshman, finished first at 113 pounds.

Dakota Sutherlin, senior, finished second at 160 pounds.

Nick Tarpley, sophomore, finished fourth at 132 pounds.

Gillen improved to 44-0 this season, and he did it by “beating a really good kid from Conifer,” Cuddie said, a kid that finished fourth at last year’s state tournament, one spot better than Gillen.

“Not that he’s not confident, but he’s got a little more confidence going into the state tournament now,” Cuddie said.

Sutherlin, the Demons’ other senior state qualifier, is 28-14 this season – “I couldn’t be happier for him,” said Cuddie, the fourth-year coach whose been at DHS just as long as Gillen and Sutherlin.

The next generation acquitted themselves well, too.

Anthony, with four pins, and Lavengood, with three pins, both won regional championships in their first year of high school wrestling. Anthony is 25-9 this season; Lavengood is 39-8.

Did coach Cuddie see this coming so soon?

“Honestly, yeah,” he said.

“Those two kids – I’m really excited for both of those guys; I expect both of them to place.”

Tarpley finished fourth behind the top-three ranked wrestlers in the state.

“He was in a tough weight class,” Cuddie said of his sophomore, who will bring a 32-11 record to the state tournament in Denver. “Those three guys before him are really, really good."

The Demons aren’t too shabby either.

“I think the five we’re taking have good shots at the podium,” Cuddie said.