It’s been said a million times, but it still bears repeating: the Class 2A state wrestling tournament is one of the wildest rides you can take (without hopping across the street to Elitch’s).
Throughout the weekend, Pepsi Center will be filled with the roar and rumble of entire communities that make the trek to support their kids, their grandkids, their friends, their neighbors, and their neighbors’ neighbors.
It’s a special sight to see pockets of color — red, purple, orange — that are only made by those small town fans who travel in packs. The 2A team race has been particularly thrilling over the past few years, and this year’s is shaping up to be no different. Here’s a quick look at the division, along with a few names to watch in each weight class throughout the most exciting weekend in prep sports.
Defending Team Champion: Wray
In The Mix (# Of Qualifiers): Wray (14), Cedaredge (13), Rocky Ford (12) , Paonia (7)
Three teams have qualified a dozen or more, and those three figure to be the primary players in the trophy hunt. The field is led by defending champion Wray — which qualified all 14 wrestlers as it seeks a 13th state wrestling title in school history. Cedaredge sends its own lucky No. 13, including a pair of returning state champions hoping to lead the charge for the Bruins’ first ever team wrestling title. The Meloneers, meanwhile, are always lurking in the title hunt come Saturday; this year’s Meloneer dozen are young, but they still remember what it took to bring home the gold hardware in 2017. Paonia is lower in numbers (7) but high in quality, and can certainly still contend for a trophy.
Returning Individual Champions (Year Won, Weight Won):
- Dillon Jaramillo, Rocky Ford sr., 120 (2017, 113)
- Seth McFall, Fowler, sr., 106 (2018, 106)
- Cade Rockwell, Wray, jr., 113 (2018, 113
- Trey Geyer, Cedaredge, so., 120 (2018, 120)
- Sean Dale, Cedaredge, jr., 132 (2018, 126)
- Wesley VanMatre, John Mall, jr., 138 (2017, 120; 2018, 132)
- Carlos Tarin, Wray, sr., 170 (2018, 170)
In The Mix
106: Fowler’s Seth McFall is the defending champion of this bracket, and his late-season cut back down to 106 has paid dividends in the form of a regional championship and a top seed in his final go-round. McFall’s lone loss at 106, however, came to Trinidad’s Alberto Felthager, the Region 4 champ and 2018 3A runner-up who avenged an earlier season loss to McFall in January.
113: Entering state with a record of 30-0, Rye sophomore Michael Atencio is on a mission to become the school’s first ever individual state champion. Positioned on the other side of the bracket is Wray’s Cade Rockwell (40-4), a junior who claimed the championship at this weight a year ago. 14 other wrestlers stand in the way of these two who appear to be on a collision course.
120: State champions with high individual and team aspirations are positioned at the top and bottom of this bracket in Rocky Ford’s Dillon Jaramillo (2017 champ) and Cedaredge’s Trey Geyer (2018 champ). But keep an eye on the other regional champs, including Highland’s Logan Lewis, last year’s 113-pound runner-up who returned from a late-season injury to claim Region 1 honors.
126: The first weight without a returning state champion in the field, 126 pounds appears open for the taking. The Lyons sophomore Oran Huff, a fourth place finisher last year, claimed one of the top seeds with a regional crown last week. Holly’s Brendyn Nordyke, Highland’s Zach Tittle, and Centauri’s Eyan Chavez are also coming in hot following regional titles.
132: One of our Twitter followers said it best — there might not be a more intriguing Thursday night matchup than Holly’s Austin Crum, a returning state placer, vs. Cedaredge’s Sean Dale, the returning champion. Neither won their region last week, thus positioning them together in the first round. Highland’s Dante Chirichingo, Monte Vista’s Tyler Vigil, and Rocky Ford’s Joziah Maestas are all firmly in the mix in the other quarters of the bracket.
138: John Mall’s Wesley VanMatre continues his quest for history as the junior seeks his third state championship from the top position on the bracket. His challengers include Wray’s Tyler Collins, a sophomore who is unbeaten against Colorado competition this year, and Paonia’s Sackett Chesnik, a state placer thrice over who looks to break through in his senior campaign.
145: Last year’s runner-up and two-time placer Tannen Kennedy of Meeker appears poised to make a run to the top of the podium in his final trip to The Can. Opposite him is Centauri senior Zach Martin, a 3A state qualifier last year. Also in the mix are regional champs and returning placers in Crowley County’s Jared Bauer and Akron’s Justin Traxler.
152: Louis Aguilar — formerly of Limon (and formerly known as Woody) — sits atop the 152-pound bracket as the highest returning placer in the field after a third-place finish for the Badgers a year ago. Know wrestling for the Cougars, Aguilar leads the charge in a weight that also includes tough Crowley County Sophomore Adam Schultz and Wray junior Emmanuel Huerta, who dropped a 7-6 decision to Aguilar in last week’s regional final.
160: Paonia’s Grey Neal and Wray’s Cade Hillman finished third and fourth, respectively, at last year’s state tournament. Now the two familiar foes highlight the 160-pound class and could potentially meet as early as the semifinals. On the other side is Buena VIsta junior Micah Hertrich and another returning podium placer in Austin Overholt of Norwood.
170: Second, second, and second. Three times a runner-up, is this the year that Soroco’s Jace Logan finally wins the last match of the year? To do so, he’ll have to navigate through the top half before potentially facing defending champ Carlos Tarin, whose incredible title run for Wray a year ago was fueled by three pins — including one over Logan in the third period of the final.
182: Hayden’s Hunter Planansky (32-5) secured probably the biggest win of his high school life when he topped returning state finalist Will Gabriel of Nucla in last week’s regional final to earn one of the top seeds. That pits Gabriel on the same half of the bracket along with County Line’s Dawson Roesch and Akron’s Carson Reese. Keep an eye on Trinidad’s Jesus Diaz, another darkhorse who is riding high after an upset regional title.
195: Paonia’s Anthony Felice and Rocky Ford’s Jesse Tapia bookend a bracket full of contenders throughout. Felice and Tapia earned top seeds and aim for a meeting on Saturday night, though Cheyenne Wells senior Dawson Worley, Lyons junior Karson Bean, and others will present formidable challenges along the road to glory.
220: County Line’s Jayce Bauer enters as the highest returning placer and the top contender with a 38-0 record on the season. Opposite him is Cedaredge’s Taj Van der Linde, with Wiggins’ Devon Harshman and Meeker’s Ridge Williams also lurking in the middle.
285: A 2017 state placer in Class 3A, Centarui’s Bennie Chacon seeks a higher place on the podium in his final run, this time among seasoned 2A competition. Among the challengers are Wray senior Jeron Lippert and Paonia junior Levi Peterson, who met in last year’s consolation championship and could potentially square off for a trip to the finals on Friday night.