Scott Kaniewski Derek Munsey thrust his name into the favorites for next season’s state wrestling title. Munsey, a junior at ThunderRidge High …
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Derek Munsey thrust his name into the favorites for next
season’s state wrestling title.
Munsey, a junior at ThunderRidge High School, took sixth place
at the 2009 Class 5A state wrestling tournament.
Munsey dropped his first bout against eventual state winner
Austin Gabel of Ponderosa but rebounded to win his next three
matches and earn a spot in the third-place semifinals. But Munsey
dropped a 3-1 decision to Poudre’s Zach Bekkedahl, the difference
one takedown in the third period.
The Grizzlies’ 160-pound wrestler finished sixth after falling
in the fifth-place bout.
“I knew I was going to have a tough first match when the
brackets came out,” Munsey said. “I had a tough run at
He rolled through his first three consolation matches by a
combined score of 33-13, on his way making a case for being a
favorite next season. Of the five wrestlers who placed ahead of
Munsey in the 160-pound division, only Gabel will return next
season. The other four are seniors.
“For next year he’s set himself up pretty well,” ThunderRidge
coach Casey Paul said. “For me the most exciting part is that he
continues to get better. One thing Derek has done is he has
improved every single match.”
The sixth-place finish came on the heels of a self-admitted poor
regionals performance. Munsey said he struggled at regionals but
managed to qualify. That regional struggle might have been a
blessing in disguise.
“I think he kind of got the cart before the horse a little bit,”
Paul said. “I think it was a good wake-up call. And then I had
confidence he’d been here before and would know how to handle this
situation down here.”
Munsey, who went 1-2 at the state tournament as a sophomore,
showed his staying ability in the division, dropping his first
match but working his way deep into the tournament.
“There’s always nerves at the state tournament,” he said. “In a
ways I was a little more comfortable. I was talking to my
teammates. We qualified three others who hadn’t been here before.
Having been here before really did help.”
That prior experience also showed itself in the way Munsey
helped his teammates who were experiencing the state tournament for
the first time.
“We had our 215-pounder [Cole Manhart] in the quarterfinals,”
Munsey said. “I was talking to him, telling him to stay calm and
keep wrestling along.”
Paul noticed Munsey’s leadership.
“The young kids … they look to him,” Paul said. “He was the only
one who’d been here. We had six last year, but five of them
graduated. They had to look to him to see what it took to get to
the Pepsi Center.”
In his first trip to the state tournament, ThunderRidge junior
Manhart won his first match, but lost the next two. He finished
with a record of 28-9. Billy Wilson [285 pounds] and Bryan Monahan
[119 pounds] also qualified for the state tournament. Wilson
finished with a record of 22-21. Monahan finished 21-20.
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