It would be understandable if there was hesitation to senior Chris Cos' step headed toward this season's regional meet.
It's circled with the aching memories of a torn medial collateral ligament during semifinals at his sophomore wrestling regional, and the broken leg he suffered with less than a minute left in the third-place match at last year's regional.
Cos, however, can barely sleep with how excited he is to get back there. "I'm really excited to go out to regionals and let my wrestling do the talking," Pine Creek's 145-pound wrestler said. "My goal the last three years has been to be a state champion, but I haven't been to the state meet since I was a freshman (placed sixth in 103s). I need to get back there first."
In his way is perhaps the toughest region in 5A wrestling. The Eagles, ranked third in 5A by On the Mat, will face other top-tier talent at Region 2, including host Coronado, No.?9 Fruita Monument and No. 10 Grand Junction.
And other than Fountain-Fort Carson (which was seeded into Region 1), the rest of the 5A area teams (Doherty, Liberty, Palmer and Rampart) will also take part in the 16-team region, which that has more state-ranked wrestlers than any of the four regions in 5A.
"It's going to be really, really tough," said Coronado coach Matt Brickell, who will be still be without injured two-time state champion Trent Watson and state-placer Sam Smith. "How you do at this regional will be huge for the state meet, which I'm sure, will be close battle for second place behind Arvada West. I think whoever can get more wrestlers out of regionals will be in the best shape - which could be tough for anyone at ours."
Pine Creek, most likely, will have the best shot to do so in Region 2.
Despite the fact 11 of its 14 varsity wrestlers had not wrestled at the varsity level before a couple of months ago, Pine Creek coach Billy Gabel remained confident and stuck his wrestlers in three of the premier high school wrestling tournaments in the nation to get them ready for this moment.
Pine Creek finished 20th out of 111 teams in Reno, Nev., 18th out of 86 in Temecula Valley, Calif., at the "Battle for the Belt" and took third at the Rocky Welton Invitational last weekend in Garden City, Kan.
"These guys have worked really hard and done some good things," said Gabel, whose team ran away with the Metro League Championships two weeks ago.
"But like I tell them, and it's the same in life, you have to earn it every day. You can't look back and say I did good then, so I'll do good now. If you go 0-2 at regionals, all the good things you did this season are gone just like that."
His wrestler, Cos, is hoping that ill fate won't happen to him, again. Heading into the Friday-Saturday regional, he said it is time to put the "bad luck" behind him and continue toward his state-title dreams.
"I want to make my own luck this season," he said.