GRAND JUNCTION-On Feb. 13 and 14, grapplers from 14 teams, representing 15 of the Colorado High School Activities Association's smaller member schools, took to the mats to decide which individuals-four per weight-would see their seasons continue into the 2015 campaign's final weekend and the State Championships in Denver.
And in helping Ignacio rack up a fifth-place 137 points, five Bobcats scored the honor of representing the red and black inside Pepsi Center before the largest crowds in Colorado prep sports.
Senior heavyweight Josh Gallegos (22-5) roared his way into his division's finale with a pin of Hotchkiss sophomore Conner Collins, and saved enough for a 1-0 defeat of Meeker soph Tyler Ilgen to become IHS' third Region I champ, joining senior 152-pounder Iaasic Pena and sophomore 113-pounder Stocker Robbins.
Pena (31-5) won his title by injury default over Meeker sophomore Casey Turner, while Robbins (33-2) stuck Paonia freshman Clay Campbell 1:23 into the third period of their meeting.
Defeated earlier on Day 2, 11-4, by Dove Creek's Chance Randolph, sophomore Ethan Appenzeller (32-8) recovered to take care of Norwood/Nucla's Aiden Dabal by an 8-1 margin to save third place at 138 pounds.
Senior Blaine Mickey (14-11) wasn't as fortunate in the third-place match at 182, losing to MHS junior Devon Pontine by a 14-4 major decision, but that was enough to punch his ticket to Denver.
Classmate Alex Lopez was a casualty of the last-chance system. PHS senior Chase Park had forfeited to HHS senior Tristen Todd in the 220-pounders' third-place match, allowing Lopez a shot-against Park-at extending his last season at least another work week.
But Park eliminated Lopez 7 to 5, and Lopez (10-15) ended up fifth via a forfeit win over Hayden junior Hunter Rummel.
Sophomore 145-pounder Lorenzo Pena, back in action with one knee braced and padded, also ended in fifth place as did senior Mike Perez at 160. Junior Tyler Beebe placed sixth at 132 pounds.
Hotchkiss amassed 189.5 points to take second, with Meeker (183) and the San Juan Basin League's Norwood/Nucla (180) collective bridging the gap in the team standings back to Ignacio-which had held down the classification's #8 spot in the On The Mat rankings heading into the event.
Bringing the 80th season of CHSAA-sanctioned wrestling to a close, the state championships begin Thursday, Feb. 19, with Classes 2A and 3A weighing in at 11:30 a.m., then starting their preliminary rounds at 3 p.m. Day 2 action is to begin at 10 a.m. Friday, with second-round consolation competition following later at 5:45 p.m. and the semifinals then at 7:15.
Saturday's action will get underway at 10:30 a.m. with third-round consolation matches, and consolation semifinals immediately following as mats become available. The fifth-place matches will begin at 2 p.m., with third-place pairings to follow as soon as possible. The Parade of Champions, presenting the top two in each weight before each duo gets down to first-place business, is set to begin at 6:30 p.m.
2A-REGION I STANDINGS: 1.Paonia 219, 2.Hotchkiss 189.5, 3.Meeker 183, 4.Norwood/Nucla 180, 5.IGNACIO 137, 6.Hayden 118.5, 7.Dove Creek 92, 8.Cedaredge 90; 9.Dolores 65.5, 10.Walden North Park 30.5, 11.Rangely 20, 12.Kremmling West Grand 7, 13.Mancos 2, 14.Oak Creek Soroco 0.
2A-REGION I CHAMPIONS: 106-Brandon Ward, Dolores; 113-STOCKER ROBBINS, IGNACIO; 120-Talon Harris, Norwood/Nucla; 126-Jesse Reed, Paonia; 132-Austin Todd, Hotchkiss; 138-Bo Pipher, Paonia; 145-Gunnar Chesnik, Paonia; 152-IAASIC PENA, IGNACIO; 160-Zach Milner, Paonia; 170-T.J. Shelton, Meeker; 182-Logan Schopp, Paonia; 195-Trevor Smith, Paonia; 220-Adrian Cereceres, Walden North Park; HWT-JOSH GALLEGOS, IGNACIO.
Feeling 'capital': Four repping BHS in Denver
Nava, McMenimen seek redemption from regional
Four representing BHS in Denver
MONTROSE-Given a red, rather than blue ribbon on Valentine's Day, one could almost see the gears inside Colter McMenimen's mind last Saturday afternoon, cranking out a variety of thoughts.
What the heck happened?
Well, better now than next weekend!
How do I benefit from this?
At last meeting an equal after dominating 2015 since New Year's Day, McMenimen managed just an escape in the 3A-Region IV' 145-pound championship against Olathe senior Austin Shank, and-after a 17-0 technical fall of Steamboat Springs' Mathew Hansen in the semifinals-lost 7-1.
But while standing before fans inside 4A Montrose High School's Lloyd McMillan Gymnasium, one could also see an eagerness in McMenimen's eyes to get back inside Bayfield's wrestling room for a final few days' worth of fine-tuning in making ready for this weekend's state championships in Denver.
His third loss in his senior season may have relegated him to second place but, like three teammates who also left town with top-four status in their respective divisions, did not deny him one last trip to Pepsi Center to help close out CHSAA's 80th season of sanctioned wrestling.
Finishing the tournament with a 3-1 mark, including two first-round pins, McMenimen (34-3) helped the Wolverines total 98.5 points and place seventh in the team standings. Ex-4A Delta was a far-and-away first with 266.5, Sterling came out from the far northeastern plains and amassed a second-place 187, while Shank and the Pirates (designated the regional's hosts) were third with 178.
Bayfield sophomore 126-pounder Ryan Nava will also make the Mile High City trip, but also as a Region IV runner-up after a stunning reversal of fortune late in what had appeared a likely win over Craig Moffat County's Issik Herod. Ahead on the scoreboard, Nava (2-1 at the event, 11-2 overall) suddenly found himself underneath Herod late, and with only 14 seconds remaining in the third period could not free his shoulders.
The awards ceremony was just as unusual.
Heavyweight Sam Westbrook, however, continued his breakout season with a third-place win, 3 to 1, over Sterling's Fabian Soto. The big sophomore's deciding takedown of the Tiger took place at the feet of both head coach Todd McMenimen and assistant Neil Barnes, and sent both elated men skyward out of their chairs.
Recipient of a first-round bye, as was Nava, Westbrook (32-8) was only bettered once in four tests, by Rifle's Jose Prado-who later lost 1-0 to Delta's Marcus Garcia in the finale-and only by a 4-3 score.
First to officially lock up his state berth was 113-pounder Jake Sandrey (22-14), via a 5-1 win over Pagosa Springs' Tate Hinger in the third-place match. Sandrey's only loss came to eventual champ Colby Duncan of SHS in the semifinals, but he responded with a defeat of Rifle's Isaiah Garcia and finished the event with a 3-1 mark.
After a first-round bye, freshman 106-pounder Garrett Beebe went 2-3 and placed sixth after being pinned by Montezuma-Cortez's Colton Reynolds 59 seconds into the third period.
Back in action but not up to his usual specs, senior Blane Barnes competed at 220 pounds, but did not place after being pinned in an elapsed 4:40 by OHS' Felix Pena and in 2:41 by SHS' Zachari Little.
120-pounder Cody Speece went 2-2 and also did not place. Neither did Taylor Winch (2-2 at 132), Jake Jensen (0-2 at 138), Cash Snooks (0-2 at 152) and Austin Baughman (0-2 at 160).
3A-REGION IV STANDINGS: 1.Delta 266.5, 2.Sterling 187, 3.Olathe 178, 4.Gypsum Eagle Valley 119, 5.Pagosa Springs 117.5, 6.Montezuma-Cortez 100, 7.BAYFIELD 98.5, 8.Craig Moffat County 95, 9.Rifle 92, 10.Steamboat Springs 77.5, 11.Basalt 62, 12.Parachute Grand Valley 36, 13.Gunnison 35, 14.New Castle Coal Ridge 34.
3A-REGION IV CHAMPIONS: 106-Jacob Beltran, Sterling; 113-Colby Duncan, Sterling; 120-Noah Hermosillo, Gypsum Eagle Valley; 126-Issik Herod, Craig Moffat County; 132-Kole Roberts, Delta; 138-Trent Rose, Olathe; 145-Austin Shank, Olathe; 152-Joel Contreras, Sterling; 160-Derek Horn, Delta; 170-Kory Mills, Delta; 182-Seager Oliver, Montezuma-Cortez; 195-Chayden Harris, Olathe; 220-Olmer Marquez, Basalt; HWT-Marcus Garcia, Delta.