Eleven athletes from three La Plata County high schools traveled to the Pepsi Center in Denver to compete at the state wrestling tournament. Three boys – one from each school – earned their way to the quarterfinals.
Thursday delivered first-round action of the Colorado High School Activities Association State Wrestling Championships. While all 11 boys will wrestle once again Friday during the second day of the three-day tournament, only Bayfield’s John Foutz, Durango’s Beau Brunson and Ignacio’s Randy Herrera will compete in the quarterfinals, while the other eight will begin an attempt to climb toward the podium through the consolation brackets of the double-elimination tournaments.
Foutz, a 220-pound senior, helped Bayfield score its first points of the state tournament in the Class 3A competition. He controlled Terry Lindh of Manitou Springs for a 7-0 lead after one period. In the second, he scored a quick takedown and finished off Lindh (3-3) with a pin 39 seconds into the period.
“He took care of business the way he needed to,” BHS head coach Todd McMenimen said. “He didn’t show a whole lot, and there wasn’t a whole lot to get into. He got a pretty easy takedown, got a couple turns in there. The second period, the idea was to take him down and put him on his back right away. That’s how it went.”
Foutz will now face Brush freshman Dominick Ontiveros (29-11) in the quarterfinals. Foutz aims to improve upon his fourth-place result at 195 pounds last season.
“He looks fresh and good. He’s pretty focused right now and knows what the job at hand is,” McMenimen said.
Herrera got out to an emphatic start in the Class 2A state tournament. The IHS senior heavyweight scored a takedown in the opening minute of the first period against Lars Sims (22-15) of Yuma. He took a 2-1 lead into the second period and then scored a huge takedown at the end of the second period to claim a 4-1 lead going to the third.
Herrera (16-9) would score an escape point quickly in the third period before he took Sims down for a third time to make it 7-1. For good measure, Herrera would pin Sims 52 seconds into the third period to march into the Class 2A state quarterfinals.
“On the whole, I’m very happy with how he wrestled,” IHS head coach Jordan Larsen said of Herrera. “He brought it and wrestled his style. He never got out-wrestled at any point in the match. Once we hit the end of the second period, (Sims) looked pretty beat. It was a good sign, and he finished well.”
Herrera will face a tough test Friday against Remi Lucero (37-5) of Centauri. Lucero beat Chase Stolzenberger (27-16) of County Line 51 seconds into their match Thursday.
“We’ve seen (Lucero) twice,” Larsen said. “We wrestled him in Pagosa and got pinned in the first. We lost to him by decision in Florence by about six points, so it’s gotten a little tighter. We’re looking forward to wrestling old Centauri.”
When Durango High School freshman Beau Brunson got off the mat in his debut match at the Pepsi Center, the Durango Demons had the lead in the Class 4A standings. Though that would not last long, Brunson’s win would be the highlight of the night for the Demons.
Brunson (22-13) wrestled in the 106-pound division and earned a quick pin of Mesa Ridge’s Mickail Skeldum (29-12). The match lasted only 1:07.
“He came out ready to wrestle,” DHS head coach Robert Finneseth said. “He came out, got a takedown right away. The kid was kind of getting away, but Beau threw a crossface and got him in a headlock and finished it.”
Now, Brunson will take on Loveland sophomore Kobi Johnson (33-5) in an extremely tough matchup in the quarterfinals. Johnson, the top seed, beat Kevin Soto of Greeley Central with a second-period pin Thursday.
“He’s a strong kid. Very strong,” Finneseth said of Johnson.
Here’s a look at the eight boys competing in the consolation brackets:
Durango High SchoolThe Demons’ lone regional champion, sophomore Tyler Woodworth, found himself in a grueling match Thursday with Isaiah Brown (32-12) of Mesa Ridge. Woodworth (28-10) would be pinned with only 25 seconds to go in the third period. He was down on the mat for several moments after the match, but Finneseth said he would be OK to continue wrestling in the tournament.
“The kid was very tough on top, and Tyler struggled to get away,” Finneseth said. “Tyler was scrambling at the end and ended up getting caught.”
Now, Woodworth will face Loveland’s Jude Quinlan (26-12) in the first round of the consolation bracket.
DHS sophomore Ben Belt went against Pueblo West junior Hayden Crosson (36-5) at 160 pounds and came up with an 11-0 major decision loss. Belt (27-18) will face Mesa Ridge’s Silas Valdez (15-13) in the consolation bracket.
DHS senior Austin Albrecht (32-8) also fell in the first round against Dillon Derting (25-3) of Pueblo West at 182 pounds. Albrecht was pinned in 1:36. He will face CJ Anderson (19-14) of Mesa Ridge in the consolation bracket.
“Austin drew a very good first-round kid. In all reality, he now has the best road to get a push to the podium,” Finneseth said. “Ben also got a tough first-round draw. We will pick up the pieces and be ready to go.”
Bayfield High SchoolAn aggressive Domonic Cerda (32-5) of Riverdale Ridge came out and got the best of Bayfield junior Dylan Pickering at 138 pounds. Pickering was pinned in 1:05, and he will now face Ray Martinez (25-15) of Alameda in consolation. Martinez fell in 2:54 to top seed Lucas Comroe of Eagle Valley on Thursday.
“The kid liked to throw, and we just didn’t get ourselves in position to do what we needed to in that one,” McMenimen said. “Dylan was real excited being at state for the first time, and it can be overwhelming. We will figure out how to get past that and deal with it.”
BHS sophomore Kobe Prior found himself in a grueling match at 160 pounds Thursday against Alberto Zelaya (34-8) of Jefferson. Tied in the third period, Prior thought he was losing and was desperate. That allowed Zelaya to score some points to make it a 10-5 decision win.
“Kobe wrestled a really good match,” McMenimen said. “He controlled it all the way through. The kid was really good off the bottom and got the escape real quick, but on the feet, Kobe took the fight to him the entire match. The points Kobe was getting was from the kid stalling, and he didn’t actually see or feel that he got those points awarded because he didn’t hear the official call it. It was kind of tough because he thought he was behind and had to do something late. If that goes to overtime, I think he would have won it.”
Prior now will look to bounce back against Florence senior Ian Solano (22-17) in a consolation match.
BHS senior Shane Moore was on the wrong end of a 12-2 major decision at 182 pounds against Colby Runner (27-9) of Severance. Moore (20-13) will wrestle Anthony Martinez (27-9) of Lamar in consolation. Martinez was pinned in 43 seconds by Cody DuBois (36-3) of Bennett in the first round
“All three of them are sitting where they can come out and win the next one,” McMenimen said. “If they can be alive going into (Friday night) at state, anything can happen. I saw some No. 1 seed kids get knocked off by fourth-place regional guys today. Weird stuff happens at the state tournament. You have to take advantage of whatever is in front of ya.”
Ignacio High SchoolAt 126 pounds, Ignacio’s Keaton McCoy lost a 16-0 technical fall 37 seconds into the second period against Highland’s Dante Chiricingo (31-6). McCoy will face John Mall’s Zaner Ross (21-19) in the consolation first round. Ross, a junior, was pinned 35 seconds into the first period by Roaring Fork freshman Joe Zamora on Thursday.
Ignacio’s Tyler Barnes hung with top-seeded Tyler Collins (31-1) of Wray through one period but was pinned 22 seconds into the second period. Now, the sophomore Bobcat will wrestler Erik Mestas (27-19), a freshman from Centauri, in the first round of the consolation bracket. Mestas lost 6-4 in a sudden victory period against Peyton Senior Colton Murray (41-11).
“Both those guys took four at regionals, so it gives ya a nice, solid tough match the first round of state,” Larsen said. “Being underclassmen and their first time here, they are getting the exposure and seeing the stars, so to speak. They both fought hard in matches, and hopefully we can come back and catch some people I think we can contend with. We will see if we can start a streak on the backside.”