Four schools, 11 state qualifiers and one clear message: When it comes to wrestling, Southwest Colorado is downright impressive.
Montezuma-Cortez High School will send three to Denver; Dove Creek, three; Dolores, four; and upstart Mancos, one.
Panthers shine at regionals
Competing at the 4A Region 4 Tournament in Montrose, the Montezuma-Cortez High School wrestling team put together an impressive weekend, qualifying three wrestlers for the Colorado state tournament.
Seager Oliver. Pacing the Panthers as he has throughout the season, 170-pound junior Seager Oliver (37-2) secured his weight division’s championship in impressive fashion.
After receiving a first-round bye, Oliver pinned his second-round opponent and won by technical fall in the third round, setting the stage for a third-round matchup with Discovery Canyon’s Adrian Mack.
One of Colorado’s most impressive 170-pound wresters, Mack entered the regional championship with a 26-1 record on the season.
In no way intimated by Mack however, Oliver eventually dispatched of his tough opponent, pinning him in the third period.
“Seager just has that focus and that ‘stop me’ kind of attitude,” said Panthers’ head coach Shad Bellmire.
Oliver and will enter the state tournament as the 170-pound division’s top-ranked wrestler, where he will open on Feb. 2 against Woodland Park’s Josh Smith (29-9).
Justice Ramos. Also wrestling well for the Panthers, 145-pound junior Justice Ramos (29-12) placed fourth at the Region 4 Tournament, qualifying for the state tournament.
After kicking off the tournament with a 14-12 victory over Palisade’s Trevor Garcia, Ramos recorded a pin victory over his second-round opponent.
Running into problems in the semifinals, Ramos dropped a 14-5 decision to Discovery Canyon’s Tyler Oberg before fighting his way to a fourth-place finish.
“Justice didn’t ever give up, and he gave it 110%,” said Bellmire.
Ramos qualified for the state tournament, where he will open against Broomfield’s Randal Baker (18-16) on Feb. 20.
Levi Gross. Rounding out the Panthers’ state qualifiers, 132-pound junior Levi Gross (29-14) placed fourth in Region 4.
After opening with pins in the first and second rounds, Gross dropped a 6-0 decision to Palisade’s Dalton Hannigan, but battled back to finish fourth.
“Levi stepped up and wrestled real tough,” said Bellmire.
Next up will be a Feb. 20 state matchup against Conifer High School’s Bronson Spies (36-2).
Bulldogs qualify three for state
Competing at the 2A Region 1 tournament in Grand Junction, the Dove Creek High School team enjoyed mixed results, qualifying three wrestlers for the state tournament and finishing sixth overall as team.
Nick Jones. Leading the way for the Bulldogs, 138-pound senior Nick Jones (32-12) advanced to the finals before dropping a hard-fought 5-3 decision to Meeker’s J.C. Henderson.
Even so, Jones qualified for state, where he will open against Fowler’s Rhett Hinkle (26-14) on Feb. 13.
Chance Randolph. Also impressive for the Bulldogs was 132-pound junior Chance Randolph (37-7), who, after pinning his first two opponents, dropped a 6-2 decision to Paonia’s Bo Pipher in the championship match.
Randolph will kick things off against Del Norte’s Tyler Martinez.
Case Baughman. Rounding out the Bulldogs qualifiers was 126-pound sophomore Case Baughman (35-7), who finished third at regionals.
After opening with a decision win over Socoro’s Colton Martindale, he dropped a 9-8 decision to Ignacio’s Ethan Appenzeller in the semis. Baughman rebounded to win two consecutive matches and will open the state tournament against Rye’s Wesley Camper (20-12).
Bears outstanding at regionals
Staking their claim to the title of top 1A/2A team in the area, the Dolores Bears put on a show at the Region 1 tournament, qualifying four of six in route to a fifth-place team finish.
Ethen Upton. Leading the way for the Bears was 182-pound senior Ethen Upton (18-3), who placed first overall in the region.
Especially impressive was Upton’s performance in the finals where he pinned Ignacio’s Christian Knoll.
Upton will open the state tournament against Cheyenne Wells’ Jeremiah Cozart (11-17) on Feb. 20.
Deano Valdez. Also performing well for the Bears, 145-pound senior Deano Valdez (29-7) finished second at the Region 1 tournament, thereby punching his ticket to state.
After dominating through the tournament’s first two rounds, Valdez dropped a 6-5 decision to Rangley’s Lucas Heinle in the championship match.
Even so, Valdez will enter the tournament in good shape against John Mall’s Adam Serrano-Bobian (15-18) on Feb. 20.
Richard Martinez. Turning in an impressive performance in his first regional, 113-pound freshman Richard Martinez (29-11) finished third overall.
Winner of three matches at the tournament, Martinez’s lone loss came to Meeker’s Tristin Pelloni in the tournament semifinals.
Martinez will begin the state tournament on Feb. 20 with a matchup against Fowler’s Gino DeVore (19-16).
Tristan Medina. Also wrestling well in his first regional tournament was Bears’ 106-pound freshman Tristan Medina (19-14), who finished fourth overall.
After dropping his semi-finals match to Ignacio’s Stocker Robbins, Medina battled back to beat Dove Creek’s Collin Hobbs 11-8 and finished fourth.
Medina begins the tournament against Akron’s Tanner Watson on Feb. 20.
Bluejays send one to state
For a young Mancos program, the Region 1 tournament was full of excitement as the team qualified a wrestler for state.
Rudy Archuleta. Competing in his first high school wrestling season, Bluejays 113-pound sophomore Rudy Archuleta (14-15) finished fourth overall, thus punching a ticket to the state tournament.
After opening with a loss, he rebounded to win three consecutive matches over tough opponents.
Archuleta will open the state tournament on Feb. 20 against John Mall’s Marshal Ross (26-9).