ALAMOSA-Fourth place in Class 5A at 145 pounds, Colorado Springs Palmer senior Dre-Son Scruggs finished this past winter standing 39-5 overall, a record certainly worthy of selection for the summertime Colorado High School Coaches Association All-State Games' wrestling dual.
His inclusion in said showcase, however, was unfortunately prevented by a left arm on the mend. That left scheduled opponent Ethan Appenzeller of Ignacio temporarily without an opponent.
But roughly 40 minutes after Pueblo County's Justin Davis began the June 9 event against 3A Gilcrest Valley's Aaron Trujillo, the Bobcat had a replacement for the Terror: A Hornet named Justin Davis.
And with Appenzeller and the All-State Red Team already mathematically denied a chance to even tie, much less win the clash, Davis was more than up to the challenge of finishing what he'd virtually started.
"I knew he was going to be tough," Appenzeller (38-5, 2A runner-up at 145 in 2016-17) stated matter-of-factly. "Coming from Pueblo County, wrestling with the Willits brothers all the time...he was tough, for sure." The Willitts are Oregon State recruits Hunter, CHSAA's 20th four-time State Champion, and three-time State Champion Grant.
Signed to CSU-Pueblo after capping the 2015-16 season with the Class 4A State Championship at 132 pounds, Davis (27-7 overall in '16-17, 4A runner-up at 138) rode out the dual's final seconds atop Appenzeller at an announced 152 pounds, claiming an 8-3 win on top of his 3-0 defeat of Trujillo at the same weight. That helped the All-State Blue team prevail 28-18.
Looking to at least cancel out the Blues' early 3-0 advantage inside Adams State University's Plachy Hall, IHS' Lorenzo Peña (37-5, third in 2A at 160) stepped onto the mat in the afternoon's second bout against Colorado Springs Cheyenne Mountain's Zac Baker.
Competing at an announced 165 pounds, the two were scoreless through the first 90-second period. Peña then scored an escape point early in the second to gain the upper hand, but a left shoulder problem-leading to a brief injury stoppage-with 29 seconds left slowed him noticeably.
Baker (41-6, 4A runner-up at 160) then leveled the score at 1-1 early in the third period via an escape from bottom-as Peña had done previously-and secured a 3-1 win with a late takedown, briefly doubling the Blues' lead to 6-0. The Red's Andrue Rojas (4A Greeley Central) evened things by pinning CMHS' Steven Hooks with 0:24 left in the second period at 182.
Red's Xavier Vasquez (5A Greeley West) then defeated Elias Manzanares (4A Pueblo South) 8-5 after three more stanzas at 182-there were no entrants at 170-and 4A Grand Junction Central's E.J. Barrera increased the Reds' newfound lead to 12-6 via a 7-1 win at 195 over CMHS' Zachary Garrard.
Donavon Rincon (Pueblo County) stopped the run with a 4-0 win over 3A Parachute Grand Valley's Evan Hoff in a second 195-pound go-round, and Blue teammate Ezequiel Silva (5A Aurora Cherokee Trail) then regained his side a 15-12 lead by pinning Enriquez Romero (2A Rocky Ford) with 0:30 left in the third period at 220. 3A Manitou Springs heavyweight Julian Sanchez re-tied the count for Red with a 3-1 win over 5A Brighton's Tanner Aitken.
Beginning the lower weights, no matches were contested at either 106 or 113 pounds, but two individuals known for competing in-and dominating; each had earned three State Championships during their respective careers-those divisions then squared off at an announced 120 with 3A Alamosa's Isaiah De La Cerda defeating RFHS' Jacob Rodriguez 9-1 and gaining Blue four major-decision points.
With no 126-pounders competing, the action proceeded to an announced 135 where 3A Fort Lupton's Jody Sandoval II-another three-time State Champion-pinned RFHS' Cody Venem with 0:39 remaining in the first, padding Blue's cushion to 25-15 with only two engagements yet to be decided.
And needing either two technical-fall wins to tie, or at least a tech/pin combo to win, Red would come up short. GJC's Riley Garner-Orr managed to win 7-4 over 3A Gypsum Eagle Valley's Noah Hermosillo at an announced 145, but with the scoreboard still showing Blue ahead 25-18, the final outcome was no longer an issue.
SCRATCHES: Scruggs, who was in attendance and shook hands with Appenzeller during athlete/parent introductions, was one of four listed All-Staters-2A Norwood's Hayden Harris, EVHS' Raul Lopez and CMHS' Luke White being the others-unable to compete.