CHEYENNE – A difficult dual victory charted the course for Amos Solano’s state championship triumph.
The Cheyenne East junior needed sudden-death overtime to get past Sheridan sophomore Hunter Goodwin during the Thunderbirds’ Feb. 1 dual win. Goodwin gave Solano fits during that bout, but Solano considered it a good learning experience.
“He was posting his left arm to where I couldn’t do any arm passes or set up my shots,” Solano said. “Instead of tying him up, I had to kind of stay away from him and use my speed to my advantage.
“I had to keep him from posting my lead arm, and also finish my shots quicker.”
Solano did all those things during a 12-3 major decision victory over Goodwin in the 120-pound championship match at the Class 4A state tournament Saturday in Casper.
Those efforts earned Solano Prep Athlete of the Week honors from WyoSports’ Cheyenne staff.
East coach Thad Trujillo had never given Solano a game plan prior to this season. That changed after Trujillo saw the way Goodwin frustrated Solano during the regular season.
“Most of the time, (Solano) is skilled enough and strong enough to find a way for things to work out for him,” Trujillo said. “I like that he wrestles so freely, and I didn’t want to change that by getting him too focused on what the other guy is doing.”
“(Solano) understood where his strongest positions were, and was able to take the game plan and incorporate it into what he does best,” Trujillo said.
Solano’s game plan also worked well when he pinned Goodwin in 5 minutes, 40 seconds in the championship of the Class 4A East Regional in Gillette.
“Seeing him at regionals showed me how he was going to react to what I was doing to keep him from posting my lead arm,” Solano said. “I was able to put my speed into it and finish my shots quicker.”
Solano’s victory ended a string of frustrating finishes at the state tournament. He finished third as a freshman, losing a 7-6 decision to Casper Natrona County’s Dylan Anderson in the semifinals. Trujillo thought Solano had that bout won when he cradled Anderson to his back during the first period.
Solano lost a 9-4 decision to Casper Kelly Walsh’s Jace Palmer as a sophomore. Palmer will try for his fourth state title next season.
“Usually when you get two takedowns, that’s enough to win tough matches against a kid the caliber of Palmer,” Trujillo said. “(Solano) was doing all the things he needed to do to win a championship, he was just finding himself in bad positions at the end of those bouts, and it cost him.”
After his match, Solano talked about the relief he felt after getting over the hump. A different kind of pressure comes with being a state champion. Solano doesn’t view it as pressure, though.
“I always thought of coming up short as motivation to keep me working hard, and tried to use it to make me a better wrestler and person,” he said. “Losing and taking third as a freshman and then taking second as a sophomore pushed me to win this title.
“It gave me the attitude and mindset I needed to win this year. Now that I have won, I know people are chasing me. So I have to keep working hard.”
Others recognized for their efforts:
• Madison Blaney or Ky Buell, girls basketball, Cheyenne East: Blaney, a junior, scored 14 points in the Thunderbirds’ 59-51 win over Cheyenne Central.
Buell, also a junior, scored 21 points in that win.
• Jaden Gipfert and Rylee Ward, girls basketball, Burns: Gipfert, a sophomore, scored 15 points in the Lady Broncs’ 53-47 loss to Wheatland.
Ward, a freshman, added 13 points.
• Jackson Hesford, Blaise Ronnau, David Stice and Bradley Whitright, wrestling, Cheyenne East: Hesford, a sophomore, went 3-1 and placed second in Class 4A at 152 pounds.
Ronnau, also a sophomore, went 4-1 and took third at 170.
Stice, a junior, went 3-1 and placed second at 113 pounds.
Whitright, a sophomore, was 4-1 and took third at 182 pounds.
• Jayla Jones, girls basketball, Cheyenne Central: The junior scored 18 points in the Lady Indians’ 59-51 loss to Cheyenne East.
• Isaac Lopez and Brian Nicholson, wrestling, Cheyenne Central: Lopez, a junior, went 4-1 and placed third in Class 4A at 106 pounds.
Nicholson, a senior, went 3-1 and placed second at 160 pounds.
• Blaine Lyman, boys basketball, Cheyenne Central: The senior scored 15 points in the Indians’ 64-58 overtime loss to Cheyenne East on Friday.
• Kammie Ragsdale, girls basketball, Pine Bluffs: The senior guard averaged 20.3 points to help the Lady Hornets go 2-1 and finish second at the Class 2A East Regional.
• Michael Shain, boys basketball, Pine Bluffs: The junior guard averaged 18.3 points to help the Hornets go 3-0 and win the Class 2A East Regional.
• Kyle Thurin, wrestling, Burns-Pine Bluffs: The junior went 4-1 and placed third in the 182-pound bracket at the Class 3A state tournament.
Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-633-3137. Follow him on Twitter at @jjohnke.