Colorado is really putting itself on the map.
When it comes to the Wide World of Wrestling, that is.
Just take a look at what went down at the Doc Buchanan last weekend. There were 19 Colorado wrestlers – including three champs – who placed in a tournament which featured seven nationally-ranked teams and 61 state placers from nine different states.
If that’s not impressive enough, our Colorado contingent had five teams in the top 20 at the Doc Buchanan, with Ponderosa – paced by junior phenom Cohlton Schultz – leading the way with a seventh-place finish.
And let’s talk about Schultz. The young man from Parker, Colo., who won a WORLD title this summer, has two state titles and many more accolades to his name, just handed the No. 3 ranked heavyweight in the country his first ever high school loss.
Schultz (No. 2 at 285) is one of seven Colorado prepsters who is nationally ranked by FloWrestling, along with Castle View’s Malik Heinselman (No. 4, 120), Pomona’s Theorius Robison (No. 5, 132) and Colton Yapoujian (No. 19, 138), Greeley Central’s Andrew Alirez (No. 7, 145), Grand Junction’s Josiah Rider (No. 11, 152), and Pondo teammate Jayden Woodruff (No. 15, 195).
Robison and Alirez joined Schultz in earning cowboy hats by winning the Doc B, and the three are also part of an elite group of eight Colorado wrestlers who have at least one state title and still have an opportunity to win four. Should those eight complete the feat by the time they graduate – Poudre’s Jacob Greenwood is the one who can do so this year – they would nearly double the amount of four-time champions (20) in the state’s history.
So, yeah. Colorado is certainly becoming a wrestling hotbed. The next time you head to a local gym, arena, or even the Pepsi Center in February, take some time to appreciate these hard-working athletes while we have the chance.
1: Arvada West Invitational
This one has all the makings of a slobberknocker. A humdinger. A dang fine prep wrestling tournament. It’s a who’s who of Colorado powerhouses set to tangle at Arvada West, and when you throw in some quality opponents from neighboring states – including Cheyenne East (Wyo.), Scottsbluff (Neb.), and Garden City (Kan.), this one could be the tournament of the weekend.
Take a look at just some of the top-ranked teams in attendance:
- 5A No. 1 Grand Junction: The Tigers had a weekend off and are hungry to get back to the mats, to be sure. Top-ranked, two-time state champ Josiah Rider (152 lbs.) could match up against second-ranked Parker McQuade of Monarch in a potential state final preview, while No. 2 Dawson Collins (113) will look to make a statement with No. 1 Adrian Marquez of Castle View in the same bracket.
- 4A No. 1 Pueblo County: The Hornets finished in a respectable 11th place at the Doc B last week, coming away with a handful of placers (Brendon Garcia, 4th, 113; Josiah Nava, 7th, 120; Dante Garcia, 7th, 220). But the Hornets aren’t content with placing; they wrestle to win. Last year, Brendon Garcia went unbeaten the rest of the way after a fourth-place finish at Doc B – and this tournament will be his first major test within state borders in quite some time. Â
- 5A No. 3 Monarch: Monarch has been (relatively) quietly putting together a championship contender, and this week will be a serviceable litmus test for the Coyotes. With Grand Junction, No. 4 Pomona, and No. 5 Castle View in the mix, Monarch’s mat royalty – including No. 1 Vince Cornella (106), No. 2 Cole Polluconi (138), and No. 2 Parker McQuade (152) – will get to make a claim for the throne.
2 (TWOOOOOOOOO): Frederick Invitational
The Frederick Invite, though smaller in number, has some hammers of its own heading to the squared circle. Class 4A No. 2 Windsor, which is fresh off a dominant performance at the Arnold Torgerson Invite, leads the way against competition both new and familiar.
Dominick Serrano, who missed some time pre-holiday break, is back in the lineup doing what he does best – winning. Serrano, the top-ranked wrestler in 4A at 126 pounds, is not only off to an unbeaten start to the season; he’s off to an unbeaten start to high school, winning the state title unblemished as a freshman for the Wizards.
Meanwhile, Serrano’s talented freshman teammate Vance Vombaur (4A No. 1, 120) will look to get back on track after losing just his second match of the year (both of which came to 5A No. 1 Malik Heinselman).
Other teams scheduled to attend include Mesa Ridge (4A No. 5), Loveland, Northridge, Thomas Jefferson, Valor Christian, and Erie.
3: Alamosa Invitational
The Mean Moose know how to host a mean meet. The Alamosa Invitational may be smaller in number than it once was, but it still packs a wallop with battle-tested teams from across the state. Among those slated to be in attendance are the host Mean Moose, ranked No. 1 in 3A, Class 2A No. 4 Rocky Ford and No. 7 John Mall, Thunder Ridge, Widefield, and Pueblo West.
Alamosa’s Elijah DeLaCerda, ranked No. 2 at 113 pounds in Class 3A, No. 1 Joe Chavez (126), and No. 2 heavyweight Preston Duran will look to lead the Moose to glory, though Pueblo West and Rocky Ford have duked it out to the wire in recent tournaments’ past.
The Meloneers have a highly potent heavy of their own, with 2A No. 1 Greg Garcia coming fresh off a title at the Pueblo South Colt Classic.
Pueblo West may be unranked in 4A, but they are still a force to reckon with, particularly at 132 pounds with sixth-ranked Nick Wilson in the mix.
4: Mel Smith Invitational (Florence)
This tournament is something else.
Florence High School will be the site of an epic battle between some of 3A’s top-tier teams, sans Alamosa, in a mini-state preview of sorts.
Some of the leading contenders include Class 3A No. 2 Valley, No. 3 Eaton, No. 4 Lamar, No. 5 Pagosa Springs, No. 6 Sheridan, No. 7 Weld Central, No. 8 Brush, and No. 10 Centauri.
That’s eight of the top 10 teams in the division, which means there are many of the top-ranked wrestlers in the division set to jockey for position in the rankings and possibly even regional seeds.
Valley is the team to beat until it isn’t, with three straight state titles on the Vikings’ side.
Individually, there are handfuls upon handfuls of potential matchups that would make any competitor’s mouth water, including potential No. 1 vs. No. 2 meetings at:
- 106: No. 1 Santana Hernandez, Weld and No. 2 James Cordova, Sheridan
- 145: No. 1 Brandon Damian, Valley and No. 2 Brandon Buhr, Centauri
- 152: No. 1 Jaziah Whaley, Valley and No. 2 Ty Addington, Florence
- 160: No. 1 Jimmy Laconte, Weld and No. 2 Wyatt Pfau, Brush
- 182: No. 1 Josh Flanagan, Valley and No. 2 Nathan Johns, TCA
- 195: No. 1 Colton Eberhardt, Lamar, and No. 2 Faustin Lopez, Sheridan
- 220: No. 1 Bart Gruenloh, Lamar and No. 2 Bennie Chacon, Centauri
Whew! And that’s not even to mention the wrestlers ranked third, fourth, eighth, or not ranked at all who will try (and in some cases succeed) to play spoiler.
5: Bulldog Invite (Pueblo Centennial)
The Bulldog Invite has a habit of churning out big-time stars.
Heck, it wasn’t all that long ago (three years, to be exact) that Maya Nelson, a Junior World Champion for the United States women’s freestyle team, was taking down a bracket full of boys as a Denver East Angel on her way to winning outstanding wrestler honors here at the Bulldog.
The competition is highlighted by teams like host Pueblo Centennial, which boasts 4A’s No.1 Â wrestler at 106 pounds in Jacob Gonzalez, Grand Junction-Central, Pueblo South, Taos (N.M.), and defending Texas 5A state champ Dumas.
Dumas is coached by former Fowler coach Clint Chamblin, along with former Grizzly standout Chris Holzworth, which is part of the Colorado connection which brings the Demons to test their mettle against some of Colorado’s finest a couple of times each season.
Also in the mix will be 2A’s top-ranked team in Cedaredge, which will kick off the highly competitive weekend early with duals against 2A No. 2 Paonia on Thursday and No. 4 Rocky Ford on Friday.
Performance Of The Week: Theorius Robison, Pomona
Theorius has a brand new hat. The Pomona junior scored big at the Doc Buchanan in Clovis, Calif., winning the 132-pound bracket – and therefore a signature cowboy hat – in dynamic fashion.
Robison beat Carmen Ferrante from New Jersey powerhouse Bergen Catholic 3-2 in the ultimate tiebreaker, holding on from the top position for the 30-second ride out and backflipping twice in jubilation.
It was well-deserved and well-earned for the No. 7 132-pounder in the country, according to FloWrestling, who has won two state titles and seeks to add to his accolades come February.
What’s extra special about Robison is that while wrestling may be the sport in which he excels and performs celebratory backflips, he also does numbers in football (833 rush yards, 14 TDs for the state champion Panthers) and previously participated in track. It’s rare, and should be much appreciated, that an athlete who is so good in one sport still has the desire to compete at a high level in others.