Eleven returning state champions highlight what projects to be a topsy, turvy, and high-throttle Class 3A state tournament. Three weight classes feature multiple state champions – 113, 120, and 152 — and at least two of those potential battles between champs figures to have major implications on the team race.
Speaking of the team race, this one projects to be one of the most unpredictable and exciting. Two-time defending champion Alamosa didn’t win its regional, but still brings 10 Mean Moose to The Can — tied with Jefferson for the most in the field.
It could be somewhat of a changing of the guard should Jefferson, led by defending state champs Angelo Lozado (113) and Nick Gallegos (152) manage to dethrone Alamosa; it would be the first ever wrestling title for the Saints, while Alamosa’s 13 team titles put them atop the record books for most in state history.
But then there’s also Valley, Pagosa Springs, Eaton, Lamar, and a host of other teams that could throw a wrench into those plans of Jefferson. Much like the 2A tournament, the small-school passions of 3A make for an exciting start and roaring finish year in, and year out.
(Also a quick shoutout to Severance High School, which has a pair of Silver Knights making a trip to The Can in the school’s inaugural season: Colby Runner at 182 and Cody King at 220)
Defending Team Champion: Alamosa
In The Mix (# Of Qualifiers): Alamosa (10), Jefferson (10), Pagosa Springs (9), Eaton (8), Valley (8)
Returning Individual Champions (Year Won, Previous Wt.):
- Davion Chavez, Alamosa, jr., 113 (2018, 106)
- Angelo Lozado, so., Jefferson, 113 (2019, 113)
- Isaiah Gamez, La Junta, sr., 120 (2018, 113; 2019, 120)
- Brady Hankin, Woodland Park, so., 120 (2019, 106)
- Jacob Duran, Fort Lupton, sr., 126 (2017, 106)
- Zane Rankin, Lamar, jr., 132 (2019, 132)
- Isaiah Rios, Valley, jr., 138 (2019, 138)
- Cameron Lucero, Pagosa Springs, jr., 152 (2019, 145)
- Nick Gallegos, Jefferson, sr., 152 (2019, 152)
- Jaziah Whaley, Valley, sr., 160 (2019, 160)
- Emanuel Munoz-Alcala, University, sr., 285 (2019, 285)
In The Mix
106: Weld Central’s Roberto Estrada has been untouched and unblemished this season, carrying a perfect 44-0 record into his sophomore state campaign. Estrada finished third as a freshman and aims to take the next two steps this season. Will Estrada complete the perfect season, or will there be a spoiler in the mix?
113: Alamosa Junior Davion Chavez (44-4) won a state title as a freshman, only to fall short of his goal the following season. Jefferson sophomore Angelo Lozado (31-7) won a state title in his freshman campaign as well. What will happen at the conclusion of his second chapter? Buckle up! These two highlight a stout 113-pound bracket, and a Chavez/Lozado championship clash could have major team race implications.
120: Speaking of major implications, how about this doozy of a bracket, which also features two returning state champions (who have a scintillating season-long rivalry). Woodland Park’s Brady Hankin (38-1), a defending state champion, is the top seed after scoring a pair of close wins over La Junta’s Isaiah Gamez, a two-time defending state champion. A highly anticipated could be coming (for all the marbles), though the field also boasts a host of other capable contenders.
126: Another weight class, another returning state champion. Though it has been a couple of years, Fort Lupton’s Jacob Duran (32-1) knows what it takes to make it through the gauntlet of the state tournament and reach the top step on the podium. The senior aims to return to that top spot and bookend his prep run with another state title. Jefferson’s Jimmy Ramirez III (29-2) will be a force for the Saints in their push for the team trophy, and keep an eye on other highly touted seniors Johnny Masopust (41-1) of Florence and Cauy Smith (32-4) of Rifle.
132: It’s not the 3A state tournament if there’s not a loud Lamar cheering section. This year they’ll be rooting for senior Zane Rankin (32-1) as he attempts to go back-to-back at 132 pounds. Rankin’s lone loss on the season came out of state, and the top seed looks poised to give his Lamar faithful a reason to be loud on Saturday night. On the other site of the bracket sits Strasburg frosh Zach Marrero (27-3) and Valley senior Noah Damian (18-1), who also hope to make some noise.
138: Valley’s Isaiah Rios (jr., 36-2) splashed onto the scene last year by winning a state title in his first ever trip to Pepsi Center. Can he make it 2-2 this year and give a boost to the Vikings as they seek to snatch the 3A crown? Or will it be Pagosa’s Dylan Tressler (jr., 32-3) who makes a splash of his own? Or Eagle Valley senior Lucas Comroe (41-3), a returning state finalist who seeks redemption? There can only be one…
145: A third-place finisher last year, Jefferson’s Zander Condit (sr., 33-5) sits in pole position for his final state run — and a deep run would bode well for Condit and the Saints. His challengers include one of three unbeaten wrestlers in the 3A field — CSCS’ Jake Hamilton (sr., 24-0) — along with Pagosa’s Brae Bergdolt (jr. 40-2), Valley’s Zach Brown (jr., 32-5) and Lamar’s Isaiah Baber (sr., 34-9).
152: The third and final weight class that features multiple state champions, the 152-pound bracket figures to be one of the more interesting and more consequential weights to watch. On one end is Pagosa’s Cameron Lucero (32-1), a junior who reached the pinnacle a season ago and is hungry for more. On the other side is Jefferson’s Nick Gallegos (34-5), a senior who has also snatched gold and looks to add to his collection. In between, there is Mullen’s John Sumner (sr., 41-4), Moffat County’s Daniel Caddy (sr., 29-2), Berthoud’s Brock Leypoldt (sr., 38-8), and more. A win for Gallegos would certainly bode well for Jefferson’s team chances…
160: Is an undefeated season on tap for Valley’s Jaziah Whaley? The Viking senior (37-0) went 42-1 in his state championship campaign a year ago, and hopes to return to glory during one last ride at Pepsi Center this weekend. Weld Central’s Tanner Baumgartner (jr, 37-3) has a couple of matches experience against Whaley, while Eaton’s Cael Jordan (jr., 35-9) has been the only one in 3A to hold an otherwise dominant Whaley to a decision, losing 9-4 to the defending champ at regionals.
170: Cole Gray’s signature win of the season came on January 18 at the Mel Smith Invite. That’s when the Woodland Park senior (27-2) earned a pin over Bennett’s Mac Copeland (jr., 40-2). Those two rivals enter as the top seeds this weekend, and could be on a collision course for the rematch. Though Alamosa’s Hunter Smith (sr., 41-6) may have something to say about that. So, too, could Basalt’s Ruben Samuelson (jr., 37-1), whose lone loss of the season came last week to Smith.
182: Amos Wilson has walked the Parade of Champions once before. The next time Pulstar blares over the loudspeakers at Pepsi Center, he hopes to be there again — this time with a different outcome. The Glenwood Springs senior (36-4) had just one loss a year ago, and it happened on the final match of the season in the state finals. Standing in his way could be Fort Morgan’s Brian Paxton (sr., 36-11) or Bennett’s Cody Dubois (jr., 35-3), both of whom own wins over Wilson this season. Keep an eye also on No. 2 seed Jake Hustoles (so., 36-2) of James Irwin.
195: Brush senior Nick Wellen (35-1) has been as hot as you can get lately, reeling off 24 straight wins since his lone loss of the season to Pomona’s 5A defending champ Franklin Cruz back in Dec. 2019. That includes a win over Delta’s Gauge Lockhart (sr., 29-5), the No. 2 seed and a third-place finisher a season ago. Alamosa’s Austin Trujillo (sr., 45-8) looks to make some noise and help the Mean Moose in the team race, while Arvada’s Enoc Macias-Castilo (36-5) is positioned as the third seed.
220: It’s not often that two returning state placers end up in the same quarterfinal bracket, and yet that’s exactly what could end up happening here. Sterling’s Drew Book (sr., 33-4) is the top seed in the weight and finished fifth a year ago. A win in the first round could well pit him against the runner-up from last year, Eagle Valley’s Cody Ponce (sr., 31-4), who was a tiebreak away from winning the title last February but this year finished second in his region. James Irwin’s Jimmy Hustoles (jr., 40-3) handed Ponce that regional loss and will contend in the bottom half of the bracket along with Bayfield’s John Foutz (sr., 39-3), also a state placer last year, among others.
285: Defending heavyweight state champion Emanuel Munoz-Alcala (sr., 38-1) has racked up 12 straight pins coming into the state tournament. That’s, uh, pretty good! The University senior looks to put a stamp on his bid for back-to-back titles against the likes of Manitou Springs’ Hunter Gilpin (sr., 25-7), Basalt’s Ernesto Lopez (sr., 29-3), and Lamar’s Sy Spitz (sr., 21-4).