WRESTLING PREVIEW – CLASSES 3A & 2A

The 2017-18 wrestling season is underway and Nick Jurney provides a preview of the top wrestlers and teams in Classes 3A and 2A.
 

CLASS 3A

Defending Team Champion: Valley
Returning Individual Champions (Last Year’s Weight): Jacob Duran, so., Fort Lupton (106); Joe Chavez, jr., Alamosa (120-at Centauri); Josh Flanagan, sr., Valley (170).
How often do we see a chance for a five-peat?
The Valley Vikings have been on quite the run over the past four years, with a chance to join rare company as just the sixth team in the state’s history to reign supreme for five straight years.
Valley is led by returning state champion Josh Flanagan, a senior with vast state and national experience who compiled a 44-4 record on the way to the crown at 170 last season. Then there’s Brandon Damian, a senior who has high hopes on climbing that last step on the podium this season. Damian, with an overall record of 120-16 over his first three prep years, has finished third, second, and second in consecutive seasons while helping the Vikings continue their 3A dominance.
The Vikings enter as On The Mat’s No. 2 team in Class 3A, though Colorado prep wrestling guru and ranking compiler Tim Yount notes the spread between the top three teams is marginally thin.
Coming in at No. 1 with an eye on dethroning the Vikings is Eaton, which finished ninth at the state tournament last year but brings to the table one of the most valuable things in high school wrestling – depth. Eaton returns nine wrestlers who have state tournament experience, including junior Dylan Yancey, a standout transfer from Weld Central who placed fourth as a sophomore at 132 pounds. Yancey enters the season as Yount’s No. 1 ranked wrestler at 132.
Valley Electric
Rounding out the 3A top three is Alamosa, Gary Ramstetter’s perennial powerhouse which always seems to be in the mix no matter what.
The Mean Moose return a state-seasoned squad that was made even more powerful with the addition of junior Joe Chavez from nearby Centauri. Chavez, the top-ranked 120 pounder to start the season, finished second and first as a member of the Falcons. Elijah DeLaCerda (2nd in 2017) and Tyler Kennison (5th) also return for the Moose.
Alamosa started the season with a bang over the weekend, claiming top honors at the Rocky Ford dual classic by beating the likes of Canon City, Roosevelt, Lamar, and defending Texas state champion Dumas.
Other storylines to watch over the course of the season include:

  • Fort Lupton’s Jacob Duran, who secured the first leg on the quest for a four-peat by winning the 106 pound title as a freshman a year ago. Duran is slated as the top 113 pounder to start the year.
  • The 126 pound weight class, which currently features a top trio in which each returning placewinner is fully capable of winning it all. Buena Vista’s Anthony Quintana, a transfer from Golden, leads the pack followed by Brush senior Caleb Cox and La Junta sophomore Isaiah Gamez.
  • Can Lamar go back-to-back in the upper weights? That’s the hope for top-ranked seniors Colton Eberhardt at 195, third a year ago, and Bart Gruenloh at 220, also third last year.

 

CLASS 2A

Defending Team Champion: Rocky Ford
Returning Individual Champions (Last Year’s Weight): Dillon Jaramillo, jr., Rocky Ford (113); Keegan Bean, sr., Lyons (182); Kaleb Gaede, sr., Limon (220).
Rocky Ford is adopting the “next man up” philosophy.
Hey, it’s always seemed to work for them before. The next man up has helped the Meloneers continuously reload and claim a state-best 12 state wrestling championships, including two of the last three in Class 2A.
Now, they have an eye on lucky number 13 this year. Returning state champion Dillon Jaramillo, a junior, leads the way along with three-time placewinners Diego Reyes and Greg Garcia.
On the Mat has those three ranked first in their respective weight classes, with Jaramillo leading the way at 120 pounds, Reyes at 170, and Garcia at heavyweight.
As for the next men up, a talented crop of sophomores, including state qualifier J.J. Tapia at 182 pounds, are slated to fill in to help round out a seasoned and hungry squad.
The Meloneers – operating without Jaramillo until after the holiday break due to injury –  kicked off the season with a fourth place finish at their home dual meet tournament, knocking off No. 5 John Mall and falling narrowly to defending Texas state champion Dumas High School.
Erstwhile, Cedaredge is emerging as one of Rocky Ford’s top contenders –  the two will have a dual meet in January –  with six returning state qualifiers and a handful of talented freshmen joining the mix.
Sean Dale (126 pounds) and Jared Hulteen (160) are the returning placewinners hoping to elevate the Bruins to new heights, while freshman Trey Geyer, a middle school state champion last year, emerges with high expectations of his own.
Rounding out Yount’s top three teams in Class 2A is Paonia, which is looking to return to the top for the first time since 2014. Junior Sackett Chesnik, a two-time placer and runner up from a year ago, is set to pace the Eagles at 138 pounds.
Other storylines in the 2A division this upcoming season include:

  • Limon’s Kaleb Gaede is back for more. The senior has just nine losses throughout high school, going 22-1 as a sophomore runner-up before completing an unbeaten season in winning the 220-pound state title last year.
  • Lyons’ Keegan Bean is also looking to repeat as a state champion and end his prep run with a bang. Bean won last year’s 182 pound bracket and is the top ranked wrestler there once again.
  • Soroco’s Jace Logan has had enough of second place. Logan has finished as a runner-up in his first two seasons, and now returns with an eye on the top spot at 160 pounds in his junior campaign.


 

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