Opening matches for the Class 2A and 3A state wrestling tournaments are set for Thursday at 3:00pm and action will continue until the state championship matches Saturday night at the Pepsi Center.Â Below is an in-depth preview of each weight division in each classification.
Defending Team Champion: Rocky Ford
In The Mix (# Of Qualifiers): Rocky Ford (14), Wray (13), Cedaredge (11), Paonia (10)
It’s crowded at the top of Class 2A. Tim Yount, he of On The Mat rankings fame, predicted last week that this class will feature possibly the tightest team race of all. Rocky Ford is accustomed to such by now, having won the 2015 title by three points and then losing the 2016 title by one point before reclaiming the throne last year by a whopping 28 points. The Meloneers qualified all 14 weights to the tournament for the second straight year, but Wray is getting hot at the right time and follows close behind with 13. And don’t count out Western Slope powers Cedaredge or Paonia, who still have the point-scorers to make a run.
Returning Individual Champions (Year Won, Previous Wt.): Dillon Jaramillo, jr., 113, Rocky Ford (2017, 113); Wesley VanMatre, so., 132, John Mall (2017, 120); Aiden Dabal, sr., 160, Â Norwood (2017, 160); Keegan Bean, sr., 182, Lyons (2017, 182);
In The Mix
106: The first state champion crowned on Saturday night will be brand new to the top of the Pepsi Center podium. Sanford’s Max Salazar (jr., 27-4) and Wray’s Cole Rockwell (so., 39-6) bookend the top seeds as two of the four region champs to qualify.
113: Rocky Ford’s Dillon Jaramillo (jr., 12-1) returns to defend his 113-pound title from a year ago, though there are some new challengers to the throne. Wray’s other Rockwell, Cade (so., 30-11) has come on strong of late, while on the other side of the bracket sit a pair of breakout freshmen in Cedaredge’s Adrian Nieto (30-4) and Rye’s Michael Atencio (30-2).
120: Sitting atop the 120-pound bracket is Hotchkiss junior Sergio Campos (28-2), a state runner-up from last year. At the opposite end sits Holly’s Austin Crum, a third-place finisher from a year ago. In between are the likes of Trey Geyer of Cedaredge (fr., 33-5), Burlington’s Chris Gamboa (sr., 31-6), Rocky Ford’s Joziah Maestas (fr., 28-11), and a host of other battle-tested contenders.
126: Cedaredge sophomore Sean Dale (40-4), Rocky Ford sophomore Santino Mendoza (30-10), Rye senior Colton Sims (26-8), and Wray freshman Junior Arambula (35-8) positioned themselves in the top spots after winning regional crowns. But last year’s 120-pound state runner-up, Brendan Nordyke (jr., 21-4) of Holly also lurks, as do a host of other talents.
132: Up two weight classes from last year’s 120-pound state title conquest, John Mall’s Wesley VanMatre (so., 21-3) is certainly among the 132-pound favorites. On the other side, Region 3 champ Gianni Trejo of Yuma (sr., 29-3) has won nine straight and aims to make a run in his final trip to The Can.
138: The top half of this bracket features two wrestlers who walked the Parade of Champions but came up short last year– Burlington’s Cody Jacobson (sr., 28-3) and Paonia’s Sackett Chesnik (jr., 38-3). But the bottom half features the only wrestler to defeat Chesnik twice in their myriad of battles: Meeker’s Tannen Kennedy (jr., 40-4).
145: Merino’s Remington Canfield (sr., 33-3), a fourth-place finisher last year, sits atop the bracket. Another returning fourth place finisher, Rocky Ford’s Carlos Romo (sr., 41-7), finished third in Region 4, which meant he was placed randomly while Paonia’s Clay Campbell (sr., 43-7) was the beneficiary to grab the de-facto two seed as a regional champ. Limon’s Woody Aguilar, a fifth place finisher in 2017, also got a random draw after a third place regional finish.
152: The co-op County Line team got a welcomed addition when Eads joined the group and brought senior Trevor Randel (33-2) into the fold. Randel sits opposite of another collaborative team standout in Sedgwick County/Fleming’s Kobryn Mann (sr., 37-5). Paonia’s Grey Neal (so., 34-9) could make ripples at 152 and in the team race.
160: Rarely do you see a defending state champion at the bottom of the bracket, but that is the case here with Norwood’s Aiden Dabal (sr., 30-2). While won his regional and returns to defend his title, Rocky Ford’s Diego Reyes (sr., 41-4) sits at the top spot by virtue of three previous trips to the state podium (4th, 5th, 3rd).
170: Soroco’s Jace Logan (jr., 26-2) has two runner-up finishes in his first two trips to The Can, and this year he’s positioned atop the bracket as the top seed. On the bottom half, regional champs Jesse Tapia (so., 28-5) of Rocky Ford and Carlos Tarin (jr., 34-4) of Wray aim to make deep runs for their teams.
182: Keegan Bean (sr., 32-2) of the Lyons Lions is this weight’s defending state champ, and making a path to another final seems fully possible. Bean’s challengers include Camern Fury of Mancos (sr., 25-8), County Line’s Dawson Roesch (jr., 30-8), Nucla’s William Gabriel (jr., 31-8), and Fowler’s Tyson Martinez (sr., 32-6).
195: Fowler’s Dahlton McGhee is one of two Class 2A wrestlers who enter with unblemished records. At 38-0, the Grizzly senior seeks to make his first trip to the podium a memorable one. Opposite McGee in the bracket is junior Dawson Worley (26-5) of Cheyenne Wells, as well as Lyons’ younger Bean brother, Karson (so., 20-3).
220: Soroco senior Sky Carlson is the other unbeaten wrestler in the division, bringing his 35-0 record on the line to Pepsi Center. Last week, Carlson captured the Region 1 crown by beating Cederade junior Taj Van der Linde (31-8) and Paonia’s Jaden Miller (sr., 31-8) by a combined five points.
285: Rocky Ford senior Greg Garcia has thrice reached the podium and once reached the finals, but still covets the commemorative coin flipper and the state title with which it comes. Garcia (39-4) leads a crop of heavyweights that also features County Line’s Ken Cox (sr., 18-1), a regional champ and fourth-place finisher last year.
Defending Team Champion: Valley
In The Mix (# of Qualifiers): Eaton (12), Alamosa (11), Pagosa Springs (10), Valley (7)
Looking at the number of qualifiers for each of the top contenders, it would appear that Eaton has the edge. However, Alamosa – which along with Valley has combined to win the last seven 3A crowns – boasts a host of high point scorers, and the Pirates of Pagosa Springs have come on strong in recent weeks. Though Valley is low in number, they have quality at seven weights and could put up a valiant fight.
Returning Individual Champions (year won, previous wt.): Jacob Duran, so., 120, Fort Lupton (2017, 106); Joe Chavez, jr., 126, Alamosa (2017, 120 at Centauri); Josh Flanagan, sr., 182, Valley (2017, 170).
In The Mix
106: Weld Central’s Santana Hernandez (jr., 37-3) has put together a strong year and enters as one of the favorites in the opening weight. With 11 straight wins to his name, plus a second regional title, Hernandez hopes to peak at the right time. His first test comes early against Trinidad’s Alberto Felthager (fr., 33-5), who was once ranked No. 2 (right behind Hernandez) by on the mat before placing fourth at the Region 4 tournament. Also keep an eye on Woodland Park’s Zach Dooley (so., 26-10), TCA’s Brendan Johnston (jr., 33-6), Skyview’s Nadim Karger (fr., 34-9), and Alamosa’s Davion Chavez (fr., 32-8).
113: The departure of a defending state champion from the weight (more on that below) cleared the way for returning runner-up Elijah DeLaCerda (jr., 35-8) to claim the top seed at 113. Down below is La Junta’s Isaiah Gamez (so., 32-5), the third-place finisher in this bracket as a freshman. Keep an eye on Florence sophomore Johnny Masopust (42-8), Eagley Valley junior Luke Morrisey (30-7), and Berthoud freshman Kolten Strait (25-9) as well.
120: An interesting and surprising move saw defending 106-pound champion Jacob Duran of Fort Lupton bump from 113 to 120 pounds for the regional tournament. The move paid off, as Duran (so., 29-5) topped Sheridan senior Presiliano Maez (sr., 26-5) for the Region 4 title. But to win another state crown, Duran could have to contend with the likes of Maez, Lamar’s Ethan Andrade (jr., 27-5), Buena Vista’s Owen Berry (so., 36-6), Platte Valley’s Varion Ciddio (sr., 35-8), and/or Grand Valley’s A.J. Serna (jr., 41-4), a returning state finalist in his own right.
126: Joe Chavez is one of Alamosa’s most powerful chips in the race for the team title. Chavez (jr., 38-6), is seeking to win his second individual state title after winning at Centauri a year ago. His competition includes Eaton’s David Pringle (sr., 32-8), Eagle Valley’s Lucas Comroe (so., 33-5), Brush’s Caleb Cox (sr., 35-7), Pagosa’s James Thomas (jr., 21-7) and Salida’s Ryan Moltz (sr., 37-4).
132: Buena Vista’s Anthony Quintana is back for revenge at 132 pounds after finishing fifth in this weight a year ago. Quintana (sr., 36-0) is one of three unbeatens in Class 3A and could face Centauri’s Zach Martin (jr., 39-12) as early as the quarters. In the same semi bracket is Conifer sophomore Zander Condit (33-1), while the other side features Eaton’s Dillon Yancey (jr., 23-1) and Sheridan’s Homero Navarro (sr., 25-3).
138: Berthoud’s Austin Binkly (jr., 34-5) and Jefferson’s Nick Gallegos (so., 44-5) lead the field as two of the top-ranked contenders. A deep run by Eaton’s Ariel Rodriguez (sr., 43-9) could have a tide-turning impact on the team race, as neither Alamosa or Pagosa have a qualifier here.
145: Two returning runner-ups highlight the 145-pound class, with Valley’s Brandon Damian (sr., 33-2) and Centauri’s Brandon Buhr (sr., 46-3) bookending the bracket. Another state placer, Steamboat’s Lance Bryant (sr., 29-5) will be a factor along with Eaton’s Hayden Gavette (sr., 31-12).
152: Valley’s Jaziah Whaley is one of two wrestlers in the entire state, regardless of division, with at least 40 wins against zero losses. Whaley (so., 40-0) placed third last year after a thrilling 4-3 OT win over Brush’s Wyatt Pfau (jr., 41-4), who happens to be on the same side of the bracket this go-round. At the top is Florence senior Ty Addington (42-6), a two-time placer and 2016 runner-up.
160: Jimmy LaConte of Weld Central was a state finalist as the top seed a year ago at 152, though this year LaConte’s road to the Parade of Champions looks slightly different. LaConte (sr., 35-2) suffered just his second loss of the season in the regional final against Eaton’s Ty Garnhart (jr., 22-5). As a result, Steamboat’s Hayden Johnson (sr., 29-3) earned the top seed, while Pagosa’s Colton Castro (sr., 29-4) earned the No. 2 slot. Castro and LaConte could meet as early as the quarters.
170: Moffat County’s Mikinzie Klimper pinned his way to the state finals last year before falling 5-4 to Valley’s Josh Flanagan. This year, Klimper (sr., 37-3) aims for redemption. Klimper has a first round test against Pagosa’s Ian Reinhardt (jr., 18-11), who qualified in the absence of previously ranked Dalton Lucero.
182: Valley’s Josh Flanagan (sr., 40-2) begins his quest for another state title after winning at 170 last year. On the other side of the bracket are veterans of this weight class in TCA’s Nathan Johns (jr., 30-3), the returning 182-pound runner up, and Moffat County’s Elias Peroulis (sr., 36-5), the bracket’s fourth-place finisher a year ago.
195: Sheridan’s Faustin Lopez (sr., 35-1) is up a pair of weight classes from his last trip to The Can, where he finished third at 170. Others on a quest for the podium include Coal Ridge senior Jacx Power (32-2), Eaton senior Jake Sandau (30-6), and Lamar senior Colton Eberhardt (32-6).
220: The top seeds in the bracket, Lamar’s Bart Gruenloh (sr., 34-5) and Salida’s Eli Smith (jr., 18-1) have met once already this year, with Smith winning via third-period fall. To meet again, the two will have to navigate a field that also features Centauri’s Bennie Chacon (jr., 30-6), Sterling’s Drew Book (jr., 34-4), and others.
285: Delta’s Logan Church fell one point shy of a state title last year. He hasn’t lost since. The Delta senior brings a 31-0 record and lofty aspirations into his final state tournament. Two heavyweights who could make an impact in the team race include Eaton’s Jeremy Murano (jr., 36-8) and Alamosa’s Preston Duran (sr., 26-7).