Brothers O’Dell bound for Denver this weekend
GHS sending two grapplers to season-ending tourney
Times Staff Writer
Originally published 2013-02-21
GHS Wrestling — Little brother just lived up to a goal that he set about this time last year.
After watching his older brother, Justin, advance to the State Wrestling Championships last February — making him the first Gunnison High (GHS) freshman to advance since 2009 — freshman Zack O’Dell decided he wasn’t going to fall short in his first chance at the big dance.
“He was the first freshman in four year to go to state, so I told myself that I was going to do it when I was a freshman, just to show him up,” said Zack, who placed fourth in the 126-pound bracket at the 3A-Region 1 Tournament on Saturday in Grand Valley.
Justin, meanwhile, was busy solidifying a second consecutive trip to the Pepsi Center. He finished third at 106 pounds to give the Cowboys a duo of O’Dells headed to Denver this weekend, Feb. 21-23.
GHS placed 11th among 12 teams in Region 1 with 37 team points. Buena Vista edged out Olathe to end the Pirates’ recent reign of regional crowns.
The O’Dell brothers accounted for 24 of the Cowboys’ points in the tournament. Despite their success in nabbing qualifying bids to state, neither brother is particularly pleased with their performance in Grand Valley.
“I expected more of myself, but I think I let that get to me,” said Justin, who lost an 8-5 decision to start out the tournament. “When I didn’t win that first one, I beat myself up for it.”
Justin responded by pinning Hotchkiss’ Jake Hubbell in 2:41 to secure the third place finish and avoid a wrestle-back.
Younger brother Zack, however, couldn’t avoid an extra match to decide his fate with state. After battling back from a first round loss with two victories, Zack lost the third place match to force a wrestle-back with Ty Morton of Cedaredge.
Morton took the younger O’Dell the distance, but Zack had the final say with a pin at the 4:26 mark of the match.
“They have the type of brotherly love where they honor each other, but they’re right there on top of the mat when the other one is wrestling,” GHS coach Matt Harris said of the O’Dell brothers. “They really get after each other when they think the other one isn’t wrestling well.”
Freshman Colten Didericksen was the only other Cowboy to land on the podium in Grand Valley. Didericksen went 2-3 in the 132 pound bracket with one win by pin to claim sixth and earn nine team points.
Junior Ty Reed and sophomore Jack Murphy each went 1-2 to chip-in three points apiece to the team total. Freshmen Joseph Foli and Ryder Hodgin went 0-2 in the tournament.
In terms of advice, Justin O’Dell has a thing or two to pass along to Zack after getting bounced from the State Wrestling Championships after two matches last year.
“You just have to wrestle it match for match,” said Justin. “You can’t be worried about what happened or what’s going to happen. You just have to focus on that moment.”
As for Zach, who said he has his sights on one-upping Justin by getting a win in Denver this weekend, the bright lights of the Pepsi Center aren’t scaring him away.
“We’ve been to big tournaments before, so I’m just going to take it as it comes,” said Zach. “Whatever happens, happens.”
Justin (33-11) enters the tournament as the No. 12 seed in the 16-man bracket and will meet Eaton’s Channing Lewis (36-5) in the first round. Zack (33-12) is the No. 15 seed and will square off with Holy Family’s Joseph Prieto (34-7) to begin the tournament.
Opening rounds begin at 3 p.m. on Thursday. Championship matches are slated to take place at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.
For up to date results throughout the tournament, visit chsaa.org.
(Matt Smith can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org)