Can you believe it?
It’s officially December, and the Colorado prep wrestling season is now in full swing. Last week, the action got kicked off with more of a bang than a whistle, with some of the top teams in the state – and in some cases, in the same city – tangling with the likes of one another from the get-go.
But this week, the season begins in earnest. Most wrestlers have had a week to shake off the rust, which can really only be scrubbed away with match experience. Others are going to be stepping into the circle for the first time after trading their football cleats in for Nike Freeks.
Wrestling season is a beautiful time in the state of Colorado. With dynasties in the making, multi-time state champions, masters of multiple styles shining on the national stage, and up-and-coming freshman always being added to the mix, it’s a glorious time to be a prep wrestling fan in our great state.
This season, ColoradoPreps.com is eager to ramp up its prep wrestling coverage like never before. That means more previews, more analysis, more features, and a lot more fun.
Each week, we’ll introduce some of the top places, teams, tournaments, and individuals to watch for during that week’s slate. From high profile dual meets, to tournaments filled with juggernauts, it will be a chance to cover as much ground as possible while highlighting some of the immense talent that graces the mat each week.
It’s called the Five Count. And it starts…now!
1: East Invitational
Ah, a December tradition that brings together some of the best teams from multiple classifications and pits them all against one another in Mel Spence Gymnasium. This year’s East Invitational features, among others (rankings based on Tim Yount’s On The Mat preseason release):
- 2A No. 1 Rocky Ford
- 3A No. 3 Alamosa
- 3A No. 5 Lamar
- 4A No. 1 Pueblo County
- 4A No. 2 Pueblo East
- 4A No. 3 Windsor
- 4A No. 7 Canon City
- 4A No. 9 Cheyenne Mountain
- 4A No. 10 Discovery Canyon
- 4A No. 12 Pueblo South
Yowzers. The two-time defending state champion Hornets will have a handful of its varsity squad in attendance, with another small group expected to head to Ohio for the prestigious Walsh Jesuit Ironman.
Third-ranked Windsor is new to the East Invitational, and brings its talent to town early for a dual meet against the host and No. 2 East Eagles on Friday night.
One weight class to watch could be the 113 pound division, where Windsor’s Will Vombaur (4A No. 2, 2016 state champion), Fort Lupton’s Jacob Duran (3A No. 1, 2017 state champion), Â Alamosa’s Elijah DeLaCerda (3A No. 2), Pueblo South’s Xavier Espinoza (4A No. 3), and Canon City’s Zeon Ortega (4A No. 5) could highlight a star-studded bracket.
Additionally, we could see the umpteenth rematch between Pueblo East’s Andrew Lucero (No. 2) and Pueblo County’s Josiah Nava (No. 1) at 120 pounds, assuming that Nava will be competing in Pueblo and not at the Ironman.
2 (TWOOOOOO): 37th Frank Palmeri Wheat Ridge Invite
The Frank Palmeri Invite at Wheat Ridge has been a classic pre-holiday tournament for years now, and this year’s edition promises to be one of the strongest.
While 5A No. 1 Pomona is slated to be in attendance, expect it to be without at least some of its hammers as some Panthers will be heading east for the aforementioned Walsh Jesuit Ironman in Ohio.
Still, there will be ample competition at Wheat Ridge. That includes 5A No. 4 Monarch, led by middle school state champion and 106-pound freshman Vince Cornella, three-time state placer Cole Polluconi (No. 3, 132), junior Xander Rens (No. 4, 145), and senior Parker McQuade (No. 2, 152).
Others in attendance will be Alameda, Golden, Evergreen, Hinkley, Palmer, Summit, Thornton, and host Wheat Ridge.
3: Grand Junction Tiger Duals
Based on TrackWrestling information, it appears 5A No. 2 Grand Junction will be sending one wrestler to the Walsh Jesuit Ironman – and an educated guess would suggest that one would be uber-decorated senior Josiah Rider, who is ranked No. 1 in 5A and No. 12 in the nation at 152/145, respectively.
Still, the Tigers should field a feisty squad for their home dual tournament, with second-ranked Dylan Martinez (145) and JT Skalecki (170) still leading the way.
Other teams at the GJ Tiger Duals include: 5A No. 12 Arvada West, Eagle Valley, Fruita Monument, Glenwood Springs, 3A No. 9 Moffat County, Northglenn, and Palisade.
4: Roosevelt Invitational
The Rough Riders are set to host their own competitive tournament over the weekend, with teams from multiple classifications set to enter the mix.
That includes the four-time defending Class 3A champion and second-ranked Valley Vikings. The Vikings, along with their three hammers – Brandon Damian (No. 1, 138), Jaziah Whaley (No. 1, 152), and Josh Flanagan (No. 1, 182) – will contend with the likes of Rocky Mountain, Fort Morgan, Highland, Holy Family, Loveland, Platte Valley, Prairie View, Ralston Valley, Valor Christian, and Wray.
Rocky Mountain boasts six wrestlers who are ranked in their weight classes in 5A, including last year’s 152-pound runner-up Josh Betts (No. 2, 160).
Fort Morgan, meanwhile, is always formidable when there’s a McBride in the mix – and senior Dylan McBride (4A No. 2, 195) should be expected to make noise and has produced an unbeaten start to the season (6-0 after week one).
5: Delta Panther Invitational
This is one scrappy small-school shindig. Among those in the field are:
- 3A No. 10 Buena Vista
- 2A No. 2 Cedaredge
- 2A No. 3 Paonia
- 2A No. 5 John Mall
- 2A No. 8 Hotchkiss
For some of the top 2A contenders, this will be a good chance to see who emerges with the most depth.
Individually, keep an eye on Delta’s top-ranked heavyweight, Logan Church – one of the best big men in the state and last year’s runner-up– as he looks to win his home tournament in style.
The second all-girls’ tournament of the season is set to take place at Eaglecrest this weekend. Representatives from around 20 high schools are slated to attend as groups from all across the state continue to make a push for girl’s wrestling to become a sanctioned sport in Colorado. Last week’s meet at Arapahoe drew around eight teams.
In all, there currently six girls tournaments scheduled to be held at various high schools this season, including four after the holiday break in Bennett, Loveland, Mead, and Thornton.
Performance Of The Week: Andrew Lucero, sr., 120 lb., Pueblo East
Lucero put on quite a show at the 7th Annual Battle of the Best dual tournament held at Pine Creek in the opening week. Lucero, a three-time state placer for the Eagles, entered the meet ranked No. 2 in 4A before knocking off No. 1 Josiah Nava, a recognizable rival from Pueblo County, and pinning 5A No. 1 Malik Heinselman of Castle View. Last week, Lucero truly was the best at the battle.
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