The Colorado high school state wrestling semifinals provide one of the most electric atmospheres in all of prep sports. Hopes are shattered. Dreams are made. And 112 wrestlers get the opportunity to reach the pinnacle of the sport in the state finals.
But getting there was just half the battle. Tonight, there will be even more drama, more surprises, and more thrills.
The state finals are slated to begin with the Parade of Champions at 6:30 p.m., with matches following shortly after. The team races are still far from over, particularly in class 5A where Grand Junction leads defending champ Pomona by just 3.5 points heading into the final day.
In 4A, it’s a Steel City scuffle. Pueblo East leads two-time defending champ Pueblo County 150-127 heading into Saturday. The Eagles have six in the finals while the Hornets have five, and in all there are 12 representatives of Pueblo in the finals with Centennial’s Jacob Gonzales punching his ticket at 106 pounds.
The Mean Moose of Alamosa made a huge jump after Friday to take a commanding lead in Class 3A with 120 points. Second-place Eaton sits at 85..
And in 2A, Wray continues to craft an impressive tournament, holding a 29-point lead over defending champion Rocky Ford heading into Saturday’s consolation rounds. Each squad has three in the finals.
Soon, the synthesized-sounds of the Parade of Champions soundtrack will be playing. And it’s going to be glorious. Here’s how each state final breaks down:
CLASS 2A/3A AUDIO PREVIEW WITH NICK JURNEY
106: Max Salazar (Sanford) vs Seth McFall (Fowler)
A rematch of last week’s Region 2 final, which was won 10-8 by Salazar, this one has the makings of a great start to the 2A finals. Both Salazar (30-4) and McFall (32-5) are juniors.
113: Cade Rockwell (Wray) vs Logan Lewis (Highland)
Both of these wrestlers scored upsets to get to this point, as Rockwell (so. 34-11) toppled defending champ Dillon Jaramillo of Rocky Ford in the semis, and Lewis (so., 27-4) edged top-ranked freshman Michael Atencio of Rye in the quarters.
120: Trey Geyer (Cedaredge) vs Jacob Pelloni (Meeker)
Geyer finished third at the regional tournament, but that didn’t derail the Bruin freshman’s quest for the state finals. Geyer (36-5) will meet Meeker’s Jacob Pelloni (sr., 36-15) for the title.
126: Sean Dale (Cedaredge) vs Junior Arambula (Wray)
The first of second of three Wray finalists is Junior Arambula (38-8), a freshman who has pinned his way to the final and scored big for his team along the way. His opponent is top-seeded Sean Dale (so., 43-4).
132: Wesley VanMatre (John Mall) vs Brett Benavides (Del Norte)
VanMatre (so., 24-3) is seeking a second state title while Benavides (sr., 37-8) has had a surprisingly dominant run to the title match.
138: Cody Jacobsen (Burlington) vs Tannen Kennedy (Meeker)
Jacobsen (sr., 31-3) may have been the top seed, but it was still a surprise to some when he topped Paonia’s Sackett Chesnik in the semis. Tannen Kennedy (jr., 43-4) didn’t have any surprises get in his way en route to the final.
145: Carlos Romo (Rocky Ford) vs Clay Campbell (Paonia)
Rocky Ford’s Romo took full advantage of the bracket in front of him after top-seeded Remington Canfield was upset. Romo (sr., 44-7) avenged a loss at regionals to Swink’s Kaleb Fisher to get to the big show, while Campbell (sr., 46-7) scored two pins and a 5-4 decision to make it.
152: Kobryn Mann (Sedgwick County/Fleming) vs Trevor Randel (County Line)
In another battle of the top two seeds, Mann and Randel will meet for the first time this year. Mann (sr., 40-5) pinned his way to the final, while Randel (36-2), a senior at Eads, scored a pin and a pair of decisions.
160: Diego Reyes (Rocky Ford) vs Aidan Dabal (Norwood)
Aiden Dabal (sr., 33-2) is the defending state champ in this weight, while Reyes (sr., 44-4) is a three-time placer looking for his first title. Both are stylistically similar, which should make for a dynamic final.
170: Jace Logan (Soroco) vs Carlos Tarin (Wray)
Twice a runner-up, Jace Logan (jr., 29-2) is looking to break through and earn that elusive first title. Tarin (jr., 37-4), meanwhile, has helped power his team all tournament and has his own title aspirations.
182: Keegan Bean (Lyons) vs William Gabriel (Nucla)
Bean (sr., 35-2) has been largely unchallenged this tournament with three falls as he seeks to repeat as state champion. Gabriel (jr., 34-8) came from the three-seed and looks to stop the defending champ.
195: Dahlton McGhee (Fowler) vs Devin Curtis (Hotchkiss)
Dalhton McGhee is one win away from completing an historic perfect season. At 41-0, the Fowler senior matches up with Curtis (sr., 34-7) for the first time.
220: Sky Carlson (Soroco) vs Jaden Miller (Paonia)
Could we see back-to-back undefeated state champs? It’s possible, as Soroco’s Sky Carlson (sr., 38-0) aims for perfection and his first state title. Looking to halt history will be Paonia’s Jaden MIller (sr., 34-8), whose move up a weight class seems to have paid off.
285: Greg Garcia (Rocky Ford) vs Ken Cox (County Line)
Greg Garcia (sr., 42-4) has been in the finals before, but now he seeks to end his prep run atop the podium. Both he and Cox (sr., 21-1), an undersized but strong and quick heavyweight, have pinned their way through up to this point.
106: Alberto Felthager (Trinidad) vs Davion Chavez (Alamosa)
A battle of freshmen kicks off the 3A title matches. Davion Chavez (35-8) is a huge reason why the Mean Moose are primed to capture the 3A crown. Chavez scored a pin in the semis, but so did the feisty Felthager (36-5).
113: Kotlen Strait (Berthoud) vs Isaiah Gamez (La Junta)
La Junta’s Gamez (so., 35-5) has been on a mission all year and seeks to bring a title back to the Arkansas Valley. Strait (fr., 28-9) shocked the top seed in Alamosa’s Elijah DeLaCerda and looks to do something similar here.
120: AJ Serna (Grand Valley) vs Ethan Andrade (Lamar)
A.J. Serna (jr., 44-4) aims for redemption after falling short of the title last year. Andrade (jr., 30-5) looks to capture his first crown as one of three Savages in the finals.
126: Joe Chavez (Alamosa) vs Caleb Cox (Brush)
Defending champion Joe Chavez (jr., 41-6) picked up right where he left off and looks to repeat and lead the Mean Moose to glory. Meanwhile Cox (sr., 38-7) went from unseeded to the sate final and looks to capture a crown.
132: Anthony Quintana (Buena Vista) vs Cameron Lucero (Pagosa Springs)
Buena Vista senior is looking for a good view from the top of the podium. Quintana brings an unblemished record (sr., 39-0) to the finals where he’ll meet Pagosa’s Cameron Lucero (fr., 30-6), a surprise finalist with lofty aspirations.
138: Austyn Binkley (Berthoud) vs Ariel Rodriguez (Eaton)
Rodriguez (sr., 46-9) is Eaton’s lone representative in the finals, and he makes a good case for the top in the state. Binkly (jr., 37-5) is the tournament’s top seed and looks to best his third-place finish from a year ago with an even sweeter victory.
145: Brandon Damian (Valley) vs Brandon Buhr (Centauri)
Just how the brackets drew it up, this one pits the No. 1 see in Damian (sr., 36-2) against second-seeded Buhr (sr., 49-3). The two met in January with Buhr scoring the 3-2 edge, so look for a thrilling finish in this one.
152: Reis Martinez (Alamosa) vs Wyatt Pfau (Brush)
Reis Martinez battled back through injury to compete in the regional tournament, and what a gutsy performance he’s had since. Martinez (sr., 5-1) sets up against Brush’s Wyatt Pfau (jr., 44-4) who stunned unbeaten Jaziah Whaley of Valley in the semis.
160: Hayden Johnson (Steamboat Springs) vs Jimmy LaConte (Weld Central)
Jimmy LaConte (sr., 38-2) is looking to repeat and end his prep run as a two-time state champion for Weld Central. Standing in his way is Steamboat’s Hayden Johnson (32-3), the top seed in the tournament.
170: Mikinzie Klimper (Moffat County) vs Quentin Jiner (Weld Central)
Mikinzie Klimper came up just shy of a state title as a junior, but he’s been a man on a mission during his senior season. Klimper (sr., 40-3) meets up with Weld Central’s Quentin Jiner (sr., 31-5) in a battle of the top seeds.
182: Josh Flanagan (Valley) vs Nathan Johns (Classical Academy)
Josh Flanigan (sr., 43-2) already has a lot of titles to his name, including three team rings and an individual title from a year ago. Now he faces TCA’s Nathan Johns (jr., 33-3), a junior looking to stop Flanigan’s string of victories.
195: Faustin Lopez (Sheridan) vs Colton Eberhardt (Lamar)
Lopez (sr., 38-1) and Eberhardt (sr., 35-6) have been on a collision course all season long and now the time has come.The two met once previously this season, with Lopez scoring a 3-2 decision.
220: Bart Gruenloh (Lamar) vs Eli Smith (Salida)
Salida’s lone representative in the state finals, Eli Smith (jr., 31-3) looks to deliver a title back to the humble mountain town. Standing across the line will be top-seeded Bart Gruenloh (sr., 37-5) of Lamar, looking to end his run with his first title.
285: Logan Church (Delta) vs Preston Duran (Alamosa)
The chips fell in favor of Alamosa’s Preston Duran (sr., 29-7) and he took full advantage. Form unseeded to the final, Duran meets up with top-seeded and unbeaten Logan Church (sr., 34-0) of Delta for big-man supremacy.
CLASS 4A/5A AUDIO PREVIEW WITH NICK JURNEY
106: Brendon Garcia (Pueblo County) vs Jacob Gonzales (Pueblo Centennial)
Pueblo County’s Brendon Garcia (jr., 45-2) may be 106-pounds, but he’s as tough as they come. Garcia aims to make history by becoming the third wrestler in city history to win three state titles. Opposite him is a familiar Steel City foe, Centennial’s Jacob Gonzales (jr., 44-3) who dropped a close decision to Garcia in the region final.
113: Andrew Lucero (Pueblo East) vs Will VomBaur (Windsor)
They meet again. In a rematch of the 2016 106 pound final, which was won by VomBaur, this one pits a senior on a misson in Lucero (jr., 42-7)) against a junior (33-1) looking to reclaim his throne.
120: Patrick Allis (Discovery Canyon) vs Vance VomBauer (Windsor)
Can the Brothers’ VomBaur go two-for-two in the state finals? The products of their families elite Bear Cave youth wrestling club, the VomBaurs have a storied history and look to make history on Saturday. Vance (fr., 39-4) topped a former state champ in the semis and now meets another returning finalist in Allis (jr., 32-3) who also bested a champ on his way.
126: Dominick Serrano (Windsor) vs Ryan Roth (Pueblo East)
The remarkability of Serrano’s two-year run cannot be overstated. 50-0 as a freshman state champ, Serrano (so., 32-0) looks to continue an historic quest by winning another crown. Roth (jr., 37-8) is one of six Eagle finalists and looks to shock the world.
132: Jason Hanenberg (Air Academy) vs Aaden Valdez (Pueblo East)
A few months ago, Aaden Valdez didn’t know what his future held. After a fireworks accident left him without an eye and most of a hand, Valdez (so., 45-5) has returned and made the state finals for the first time. There, he’ll meet top-seeded Jason Hanenberg (sr., 31-3), who earnestly seeks to finish a great high school run atop the podium.
138: Mike McFadden (Cheyenne Mountain) vs Jaxon Garoutte (Pueblo County)
It wasn’t necessarily a surprise that Pueblo County sophomore Jax Garoutte (37-9), it was his dominance on the way. Garoutte bested two-seed Zeke Alirez (sr., 39-3) 12-5 in the semis and now faces Cheyenne Mountain’s Mike McFadden (sr., 31-3). McFadden seeks redemption after a runner-up finish in 2017.
145: Andrew Alirez (Greeley Central) vs Zac Hanenberg (Canon City)
Canon City’s lone representative in the finals is senior Zac Hanenberg (sr., 40-9), who looks to dethrone a two-time champ aiming for history in Greeley Central’s Andrew Alirez (sr., 25-0).
152: Christopher Fasano (Pueblo County) vs Elijah Valdez (Mesa Ridge)
Coming from the top seed, two-time placewinner Christopher Fasano (jr., 36-8) makes his first finals appearance against last year’s 145-pound runner-up in Elijah Valdez (sr., 41-1).
160: Drake Engelking (Longmont) vs Hunter Williams (Thompson Valley)
After placing third a year ago, Longmont’s Drake Engelking (jr., 24-3) has been impressive in search of his first state title. He’ll meet Thompson Valley’s Hunter Williams (sr., 36-6) in a battle of top seeds.
170: Isaiah Salazar (Windsor) vs Jayson Davis (Pueblo County)
They say the second title is the hardest to come by. That’s what Isaiah Salazar (so., 35-1) seeks tonight for the Windsor Wizards. His first finals run in 4A, the former 3A champ will meet Pueblo County’s Jayson Davis (jr., 38-9), who looks to become his family’s second state champ in the last three years.
182: Zion Freeman (Pueblo East) vs Terrance Williams (Palisade)
Zion Freeman possibly scored the upset of the semis when he topped 2016 5A state champ Garrett Niel of Pine Creek 3-1. Freeman (jr., 40-8) now meets Palisade’s Terrance Williams (35-1) in a rematch of the regional final won by Williams.
195: Dylan McBride (Fort Morgan) vs Braden Barker (Mountain View)
Another regional final rematch, this one pits McBride (sr., 40-1) against Barker (sr, 43-4) for the third time this year. The previous two meetings have gone in favor of McBride, whose brother Toby was a Fort Morgan state champ a few years ago.
220: Dante Garcia (Pueblo County) vs Dominic Robles (Pueblo East)
Another all-Pueblo final pits 2016 champ Dante Garcia (sr., 28-2) against Robles (jr., 44-5) in a rematch of an earlier meeting. That one came down to the ultimate tiebreaker, which Garcia won 3-2, but Robles is riding hot after upsetting No. 2 seed and returning runner-up Dominick Fini of Mesa Ridge in the semis.
285: Andy Garcia (Pueblo East) vs Michael True (Mesa Ridge)
Andy Garcia (so., 41-3) became Pueblo East’s first freshman state champ a year ago. Now, a win in the finals might be able to deliver the Eagles their first ever team wrestling title. Garcia matches up against No. 2 seeded True (sr., 34-5), who handed Silver Creek’s Jacob Williams his first loss of the season in the semis.
106: Wyatt Yapoujian (Pomona) vs Vince Cornella (Monarch)
These two have been on a collision course ever since they met at the Top of the Rockies in January. Cornella (fr., 36-3) won that battle, and Yapoujian (so., 35-7) seeks redemption where it matters the most.
113: Dawson Collins (Grand Junction) vs Adrian Marquez (Castle View)
Grand Junction needs strong performances from all five of its finalists in order to walk away with the team crown, starting with Collins (so., 33-3). He’s up against a junior in Marquez (37-6) who aims to start the night off right for Castle View’s three finalists.
120: Malik Heinselman (Castle View) vs Justin Pacheco (Pomona)
One of a handful of wrestlers looking for three-time titles, Ohio State-bound Malik Heinselman (sr., 45-2) can cap off an impressive high school run with his third crown. But on the other side is a junior defending champ in Pacheco (33-9) with his own historic aspirations in mind.
126: Fabian Santillan (Grandview) vs Nicholas Gonzales (Adams City)
Gonzales (sr., 38-4) made waves by reaching the 126-pound final, where he’ll meet high-flying junior Fabian Santillan (43-4) as they each seek their first high school state title.
132: Theorius Robison (Pomona) vs Job Greenwood (Poudre)
Robison (39-1) is another 5A stud looking to capture a third straight state title, and as a junior he can set himself up to make even more history next year. But first he’ll have to get by Poudre’s Job Greenwood (jr., 40-5), who seeks to keep up with family tradition and win his first state title.
138: Colton Yapoujian (Pomona) vs Brody Lamb (Poudre)
Poudre has finalists in three straight weights, with Lamb (sr., 43-3) representing the middle of a Greenwood sandwich. Lamb seeks to earn his first title against a familiar opponent in defending champ Colton Yapoujian (jr., 44-5), who can also score crucial points for his team in the process.
145: Jacob Greenwood (Poudre) vs Dylan Martinez (Grand Junction)
The match that the whole Pepsi Center will have their eyes on sees Grand Junction’s Dylan Martinez (sr., 39-3) up against Poudre’s Jacob Greenwood (sr., 34-1) in a match which could make history. Greenwood aims to become the 21st four-time state champion in the state’s history, and with a win he would join the most elite group in prep sports.
152: Josiah Rider (Grand Junction) vs Gavin Deaguero (Adams City)
Another Division I-bound prospect aiming for history is Grand Junction’s Josiah Rider, who seeks his third state title. He can also help his team get in position for a team title, though Deaguero (sr., 38-6) presents a formidable challenge from the other corner.
160: Gabe Dinette (Lakewood) vs Josh Betts (Rocky Mountain)
The theme of the night is history, and Lakewood’s Gabe Dinette (sr., 38-2) can keep the trend alive. Dinette aims for a third state title before jetting off to Stanford, while Betts (sr., 32-6) looks to make history of his own and end with a state title.
170: Christian Rowell (Adams City) vs Aidan Funk (Legacy)
For those who’ve seen Rowell this season, it’s little surprise that he has made a state final run and knocked off the top seeded Parker Benekas of Ponderosa. Rowell (sr., 41-7) now takes on Legacy’s Aidan Funk (sr., 39-8) in a battle of wrestlers seeking their first championships.
182: Tate Samuelson (Castle View) vs Seth Latham (Grand Junction)
Seth Latham (sr., 41-1) can greatly help the Tigers’ title cause with a win in his first state final appearance. On the other side, defending champion Tate Samuelson (sr., 42-3) looks to repeat and cap his career the right way.
195: Jayden Woodruff (Ponderosa) vs Alec Hargreaves (Rocky Mountain)
Ponderosa senior Jayden Woodruff (42-6) has been the class of 5A for the bulk of this year, and now he can finish off in style with a state championship. But standing before him is three-seed Alec Hargreaves (33-6), a sophomore from Rocky Mountain who is looking to make waves in his first finals appearance.
220: Mason Watt (Broomfield) vs Hunter Tobiasson (Grand Junction)
Will it come down to this match for Grand Junciton? The team race is so close that it just might. Junior Hunter Tobiasson (38-3) will try to shoulder his load in search of a state title, while top-seeded Mason Watt (sr, 47-2) looks to finish off an incredible run as a champ.
285: Cohlton Schultz (Ponderosa) vs Weston Mayer (Poudre)
The final junior looking for a third state title is two-time defending state champion Cohlton Schultz, the immovable object of Class 5A who is back to dazzle on the Pepsi Center floor. Looking to stop history is Poudre’s Weston Mayer (sr., 35-9), who upset two-seeded Ian Helwick in the semis.