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.
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-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.