What Ryan Morphis did at the CIF State Boys Wrestling Championships was rare.
The Frontier senior started off his final state tournament with a loss to unseeded Isaiah Ramirez of Barstow in the opening pigtail round of the championship bracket.
It would have been justified for the senior to lose concentration and fall out of the consolation bracket early.
But not Morphis.
In the 138-pound division, he reeled off eight consecutive win-or-go-home matches, including a 9-4 decision over Jaden Le of San Diego-Rancho Bernardo for third place in the February tournament at Rabobank Arena.
Dating back to 2011, Morphis is the first wrestler to lose in the opening pigtail round and survive as the consolation bracket champion.
For his efforts, Morphis is the 2018-19 BVarsity All-Area Boys Wrestler of the Year.
“It was really fun to watch Ryan compete,” Frontier coach Carlo Franciotti said. “He seemed to get better as the tournament went on and that reflects in the scores.”
Morphis won by fall twice, including in the consolation semifinals over Santa Ana-Calvary Chapel’s Luciano Arroyo to advance to the third place match.
Like Le in the third-place match, the win over Arroyo was impressive because Morphis lost to both earlier in the season in tournament action.
What was historic about Morphis’ run through the consolation bracket — something only Clovis’ Tyler Collier came close to doing in 2016 when he lost in the first round (not the pigtail round) and finished third at 220 — is that Morphis' performance came during a three-day state tournament format as opposed to two.
“Ryan genuinely had a good time putting on a show for his Titan family and really seemed to zone in on showcasing his skills instead of worrying about the outcome,” Franciotti said.
After the final buzzer sounded on his final high school match, Morphis — who will wrestle at Division II Colorado School of Mines in college — got a high-five and hugs from two special people in his life.
Kirk Moore, the former head coach at Frontier who's now an assistant to Franciotti, was on the bench and congratulated his nephew. Morphis' grandmother, Rhonda, was also on the mat to share a hug and kiss.
“Most kids would have cashed it in after losing their first match at state,” Moore said. “Ryan was able to move past that and do his best wrestling of the year. A true measure of a champion.”
Morphis, who went 44-12 this season and finished third at the Central Section Division I and Masters championships, knew during the state tournament that one more mistake in the consolation rounds and he would be done.
He said it took some time after the state tournament to realize how special the run really was.
“Throughout my life I had this hidden potential that I wasn’t able to unleash,” Morphis said. “Then right at the end, I was able to dig deep and check myself. It just came out.”