Recognized as one of the state’s toughest and most exciting events, the Colorado High School Wrestling State Championships offer prep wrestlers a chance to experience monumental glory.
This season’s state tournament, which will include wrestlers from Dolores, Dove Creek, Mancos, and M-CHS, will take place at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Feb. 15-17, and will include schools from all four Colorado classifications.
While local schools enter this year’s tournament lacking championship potential, several of the area’s qualifiers will look to score upsets as they move through the always-difficult state brackets.
Below are profiles on all seven local qualifiers, which include information on each wrestler and the keys to their success in this year’s tournament.
Cameron Chavez, DoloresKnown for his aggressive style and no-quit attitude, Dolores High School’s Cameron Chavez (13-5) will compete at state for the first time after finishing 2nd overall at the Class 2A Region 1 Tournament last weekend.
Scoring points should not be a problem for the 106-pound junior, whose ability to maneuver around the mat and score takedowns was on full display when he scored 10 points during last weekend’s regional championship match against Dove Creek’s Gage Bailey.
Chavez will open this year’s Class 2A state tournament on Feb. 15 with a match against Rye High School sophomore against Rye High School sophomore Zack Ruiz, who currently holds a 22-5 record.
In the event that Chavez wins, he is likely to face Wray High School’s Cole Rockwell (39-6) in the second round.
Austin Hackney, Dolores Back at the state tournament for the first time since his freshman season, Dolores High School 120-pound senior Austin Hackney (19-11) will look to close out his high school career in style.
A well-rounded wrestler who just missed out on qualifying for state in each of the past two seasons, Hackney placed 4th at last weekend’s Class 2A Region 1 Tournament thanks to three straight wins after a first-round loss.
Hackney will open the tournament against Highland High School sophomore Dante Chirichingo (23-6) and with a win, would likely move on to face Class 2A’s top ranked 120-pounder, Austin Crum, in the second round.
“Winning is just about staying focused and having the technique that you need to go against kids who are as good as you,” said Hackney, after winning the San Juan Basin League Championship earlier this season.
“I think that this season is by best season yet. I feel like (Dolores head coach Grant Hobbs) has improved our team a lot and I’m looking to try my hardest to finish the year strong.”
Gage Bailey, Dove CreekA sparkplug for Dove Creek’s young team throughout the season, 106-pound freshman Gage Bailey (14-8) will compete at state after finishing 1st in last week’s Class 2A Region 1 Tournament.
Among Bailey’s impressive victories at Regionals was a tiebreaker victory over Paonia High School’s Regan Todd in the semifinals and a 16-10 decision victory over Dolores’ Cameron Chavez in the state finals.
Bailey figures to be the favorite when he hits state tournament mats for the first time against Center High School freshman Juanito Garcia, who will enter this year’s tournament with a 13-15 record overall.
Rhett Quackenbush, Dove CreekLong regarded as one of the area’s most promising wrestlers, Dove Creek High School’s Rhett Quackenbush (18-14) will look to cap off his career with some impressive victories when he competes at state for the first time.
The 113-pound senior, who was named to Colorado Preps “State Wrestling All-Name Team” prior to the tournament will open the tournament against Rye High School freshman Michael Atencio (30-2), who is currently seeded second in the tournament.
Cameron Fury, MancosA beast on the football field and known for his strength on the mat, Mancos High School senior Cameron Fury (25-8) will compete in second first state tournament after finishing 2nd at the Class 2A Region 1 Tournament last weekend.
Named as a 2nd team all-state football player earlier this season and a qualifier for last season’s state wrestling tournament, the 182-pounder will open this year’s state tournament against Dolores Huerta High School freshman Timothy De La Cruz (13-14).
In the event that Fury wins, he would likely face off against Lyons High School’s Keegan Bean (32-2), who is currently the top ranked 182-pound wrestler in Colorado’s 2A Classification.
Kaleb Hargraves, MancosCharismatic and always confident, Mancos senior Kaleb Hargraves (24-11) surprised many wrestling pundits when he finished 2nd at last weekend’s Class 2A Region 1 Tournament and punched his ticket to state.
A quarterback on this year’s Mancos football team, Hargraves narrowly missed out on the state tournament last season when he finished 5th at Regionals. Hargraves will open the state tournament against Rocky Ford sophomore Angel Estrada (2-5).
With a victory, Hargraves would advance to a likely matchup against Fowler High School powerhouse Dahlton McGhee, who enters this year’s state tournament with a 38-0 record overall.
Matthew Broughton, M-CHSRepresenting M-CHS at this season’s state tournament will be 126-pound junior Matthew Broughton (27-9), who finished 2nd at last weekend’s Class 3A Region 1 Tournament after dropping an 8-2 decision to Olathe’s Clay Yarnell in the regional finals.
Named to Colorado’s all-state football team earlier this season, Broughton registered a team-high 95 tackles thanks in large part to the same high-level athleticism and tireless work ethic that has allowed him to excel on the wrestling mat.
Broughton will open this year’s state tournament against Salida High School senior Alex Kimmons (22-13) and with a win, will likely face off against top-ranked Austyn Binkly (34-5) in the second round.