Heading into the Class 3A Region 1 Tournament in Montrose, Feb. 15-16, the Montezuma-Cortez High School wrestling team knew that it would have its hands full as its members battled to qualify for the state wrestling tournament.
Thanks to solid performances by several of its team members, the Panthers finished fourth overall in the 14-team tournament and qualified four individuals for state. Alamosa finished first in the team standings and was followed by Pagosa Springs and Rifle.
Among the M-CHS wrestlers to qualify was 152-pound senior Matthew Broughton, who continued to dominate opponents and captured the regional championship.
Broughton opened the tournament with a pin victory over Bayfield’s Kobe Prior and won a 10-1 decision over Olathe’s Brent Gray in the semifinals. Facing off against Alamosa’s Kollen Hillis in the finals, Broughton wrestled a fundamentally sound match and walked away with a 7-1 victory.
Falling just short of a regional championship but also qualifying for the state tournament was M-CHS senior Swayde Noyes, who placed second in the 182-pound weight class after winning two of his three matches.
Noyes began the tournament with a 16-0 technical fall victory over Delta’s Brandon Butler and followed up with a 13-2 major decision victory over Rifle’s Pedro Guardado. Squaring off against Gunnison’s Amos Wilson in the regional finals, Noyes lost an 8-2 decision to one of Colorado’s top wrestlers.
Also qualifying for state in his final season of high school wrestling was M-CHS senior Kerwin Tom, who placed fourth in the 170-pound weight class after winning three of his five matches. Tom’s victories included a pin of Olathe’s Timoteo Pena and a pin of Rifle’s Kyle Lang.
Rounding out M-CHS’ state qualifiers was Jayven Valdez, who scored several upsets on his way to a fourth-place finish in the 113-pound division. The sophomore punched his ticket to the state tournament with a 4-2 decision victory over Gunnison’s Devin Gomez in the tournament’s fourth-place match.
Other M-CHS placers who narrowly missed out on a state-tournament berth included freshman Kael Buffington, who finished fifth in the 106-pound division. Austin Featherman finished sixth in the 120-pound bracket, Anthony Abeyta finished sixth in the 138-pound bracket, and Ethan Root finished sixth in the 145-pound bracket. Other M-CHS competitors included Kale Hall, Devan Frost, Casen Allmon and Stevie Fuentes.
The Colorado High School Activities Association state tournament runs Feb. 21-24 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.