Thats what the high school wrestling season comes down to. Its what separates the good from the elite.
In a sense, high school wrestling coaches are treating the Colorado High School Activities Association, State Wrestling Championships as such a new season.
Wrestling is an extremely mental sport. It starts over. You just cant look past anyone, Montezuma-Cortez High School coach Eric Smith said.
A total of 20,000 people will fill Denvers Pepsi Center starting today, to cheer their local grapplers to a state title.
M-CHS is sending three do Denver to compete in the 4A championships. Juniors Ryan Daves (37-5) and Trenton Gustafson (34-6) won regional titles last weekend at 126 and 182 pounds to return to the Pepsi Center. Freshman Seager Oliver makes his state debut at 152 pounds after finishing fourth at regionals.
It is Daves third straight state appearance. He will take on junior Zach Badial (27-5) of Greeley Central today in the first round. Daves has placed fourth the last two seasons at state.
Last two years in the semifinals, hes lost tough matches both years, Smith said. Ryan is as mentally tough as it comes. He is, right now, peaking at the right time. Ryan, hes pretty much one match at a time. If he continues to wrestle in the same manner, then I honestly look for him to be in the finals.
Gustafson faces junior John Lieder (28-16) from Pueblo Centennial.
Trenton just has the attitude, that he doesnt care who he wrestles, Smith said. He went out and basically took it to them (at regionals). I tell these kids, you get them on your back, you got to finish them. Thats why hes where hes at right now.
Oliver (33-13) will have the tough task of facing top-ranked and undefeated Clay Bunker (39-0), a senior from Erie, in the first round.
The boys wrestled well and smart. I think thats definitely what got Seager through, Smith said. He was in a really tough bracket, in my opinion, for that region. Him and Gabe Crawford (Durango) went back-and-forth this year. For Seager to beat him for a chance to go to state, was huge. It was a really big win for him. A big confidence builder. To get there as a freshman at 152s, is great.
Dove Creek took second as a team at 2A regionals in Grand Junction. For its performance, nine Bulldogs are going to state. Its a Dove Creek High School wrestling record.
Its the most weve ever qualified. That part was good, Bulldogs coach Shane Baughman said about regionals.
Cole Baughman (39-5) won a regional title at 120 pounds. The junior placed sixth at state a year ago and will face Yuma sophomore Luke Brown (16-12) in the first round.
Nick Jones (106), 29-8; Chance Randolph (113), 33-12; Tyler Ebberts (132), 27-15; Dalton Randolph (138), 24-8; Wyatt Applin (160), 19-9; Chance Johnson (182), 25-6; Jared Galyean (220), 22-12; and, heavyweight Tyson Smith (24-12) all made state.
Everyone is 0-0 and this point in my book, Shane Baughman said. Well go up there and wrestle, and take them one match at a time. I think well be OK.
The Dolores Bears qualified four for state.
Richard Belt (220), along with Wyatts Wade (126), Mattausch (132), 19-14; and, 26-14 Wallace (160) made it for the Bears.
We just go back to doing what weve been doing all year. What we got to do, is work, Bears coach Dean Valdez said. Were going to practice up there at (Colorado) School of Mines to get us broke in and get the jitters out.
Wade (26-12), a junior, goes back to Denver after tacking second last year at 112 pounds. Hes paired with senior Andrew Valdez (10-2), of Swink, in the opening round.
I see Wade fighting to the championships, as usual, Valdez said.
The 4A competition starts today at 7:15 p.m., while 2A wrestling begins at 3 p.m. The state tournament continues through Saturday, with the championship finals later that day at 6:30 p.m.
Reach Bobby Abplanalp at email@example.com.