Mats 6-10 belong to Class 3A during Thursday’s opening preliminary round, and there will be plenty to watch when the action kicks off.
How many Mean Moose will advance to the quarterfinals? Will Valley’s Angel Rios, the female wrestler who won a regional crown last week, get off to a hot start in her quest to be the first girl on the state podium?
Which team’s fan base will be the loudest after a pin?
These are just a few of the burning questions we have heading into the Class 3A tournament. Let’s take a closer look:
Defending Team Champion: Alamosa
In The Mix (# Of Qualifiers): Lamar (13), Pagosa Springs (12), Alamosa (11), Eaton (10), Valley (8), Jefferson (7)
Lamar and Pagosa Springs are heavier in number, but defending state champion Alamosa is still certainly the team to beat in Class 3A. The Mean Moose have a heavy-hitting group of 11 set to pop the lid off The Can this weekend, led by two-time state champion Joe Chavez. Should Alamosa win the title, it could break the a tie and set the state record for the most wrestling championships in school history with 13. However the numbers of Lamar, Pagosa, and even Eaton bear watching as the tournament progresses. This race is extremely open.
Returning Individual Champions (Year Won, Previous Wt.):
- Davion Chavez, Alamosa, so., 106 (2018, 106)
- Isaiah Gamez, La Junta, jr., 120 (2018, 113)
- A.J. Serna, Grand Valley, sr., 120 (2018, 120)
- Joe Chavez, Alamosa, sr./126 (2018, 126; 2017, 120 – Centauri)
- Austyn Binkly, Berthoud, sr., 145 (2018, 138)
- Wyatt Pfau, Brush, sr., 170 (2018, 152)
- Nathan Johns, The Classical Academy, sr., 182 (2018, 182)
In The Mix
106: Alamosa’s Davion Chavez is the defending champion, and the sophomore intends to keep his own quest for history alive while helping the Moose push for a team title from the leadoff spot. His half of the bracket also includes Skyview’s Jaslynn Gallegos and Valley’s Angel Rios, two of three female state qualifiers in this year’s tournament. Challengers are also abound in the lower half, including Woodland Park freshman Brady Hankin (26-1), who defeated each of the other three regional champs earlier this season — Chavez, Rios, and Weld Central’s Robert Estrada.
113: Elijah DeLaCerda earned the top position on the bracket by virtue of a regional title and a state podium pedigree. The Alamosa senior has placed second and third over the past two years respectively and aims for the top spot this year. Challengers also include regional champs Angelo Lozado (Jefferson), Moises Rivas (Sterling), and Aidan Johnston (TCA).
120: An early contender for the most anticipated match of the tournament could come as early as Friday morning’s quarterfinal round. Two defending state champions — Grand Valley’s A.J Serna (19-1) and La Junta’s Isaiah Gamez (28-2) are positioned in the same quarter bracket. Serna is in the top position and won his region last week, while Gamez suffered his second loss of the season to the same opponent to finish second. That would be Lamar’s Ethan Andrade, who was runner-up to Serna last year. Throw in Eagle Valley’s Luke Morrisey, and this bracket just might be worth the price of admission all on its own.
126: The three-time state champion club is quite impressive in its own right. Alamosa’s Joe Chavez has a chance to join that elite club this year as he aims for one last gold medal (and coin-flipper, and giant bracket). The senior (42-4) will have to contend with a tough cast of characters, including Sterling’s Zach Loft (36-2) and Pueblo Central’s Jimmy Gonzales (25-4) — both of whom are on the opposite side of the bracket to Chavez.
132: Jefferson’s best chance at a top-3 finish is to get the most out of its state-bound seven. That includes senior Andrew Sansburn, a third-place finisher who looks to take another leap for the Saints. Alamosa’s Colton Liddell, Florence’s Johnny Masopust, Eagle Valley’s Lucas Comroe, and Valley’s Zach Brown are all grouped in the lower half gauntlet of the bracket.
138: Eaton will be pushing for a team trophy of its own, and the efforts of senior Dylan Yancey could go a long way toward that goal. Yancey (39-5) is perched atop the bracket, along with Alamosa’s Tyler Kennison (38-7) — his opponent from last year’s consolation championship (won by Yancey). Moffat County’s Daniel Caddy (43-4), Jefferson’s Zander Condit (28-9) and Valley’s Isaiah Rios highlight the bottom half.
145: Up a weight from his 2018 state championship run, Berthoud’s Austin Binkly appears to be the one to beat in the 145 pound division. Binkly (37-2) sits atop the bracket, joined by regional champ Jacob McCarley of Manitou Springs. Aiming to reach the final from the bottom half are contenders like Pagosa Springs’ Cameron Lucero, a sophomore and runner-up a year ago, and Mullen’s John Sumner.
152: Jefferson’s Nicholas Gallegos has had a tumultuous road back to the state tournament. After finishing third as a freshman, his state title aspirations were stopped short a year ago due to injuries sustained in a car accident. This year he is back, healthy, and tougher than ever. Gallegos (39-7) highlights a field that includes state placers Kolten Hillis (Alamosa) and Oswaldo Nunez (Brush).
160: Valley’s Jaziah Whaley has come close before, but still seeks to reach the peak. The junior has finished third — twice — and this year leads the charge against the likes of Eagle Valley’s Noah Baldwin, Platte Valley’s Josh Yancey, and Woodland Park’s Cole Gray.
170: Wyatt Pfau is Duke-bound after this year, but first the Beetdigger hopes to make one more run to the top of the 3A podium. Pfau (37-3) is certainly favored to defend his title, though he will receive challenges from Aiden Barrios (Delta), Ty Garnhart (Eaton), and others.
182: Amos might not be famous (yet), but he is unbeaten. Glenwood Springs’ own Amos Wilson, that is. The junior brings a 45-0 record into the state tournament, though he has yet to square off with the defending state champion who sits at the top of the bracket. That would be TCA’s Nathan Johns, a senior with a 31-1 record and an appetite for a repeat.
195: Salida’s Holt Brashears didn’t wrestle his first match of the season until Feb. 2, but it’s been nothing but pins since. Brashears (8-0), a transfer from Woodland Park, is firmly among the list of contenders at 195 pounds. Also in the mix are Elizabeth’s Abe Leonard, Pagosa’s Caleb Janowsky (in Brashears’ quarter bracket), and Bayfield’s John Foutz.
220: Sierra’s Atsamaz Pliev (formerly of Washington) is a newcomer to the Colorado state tournament, but he’s no stranger to winning. The senior brings a 28-1 record and a regional championship into his first state meet, and knocked off former No.1 Eli Smith of Salida in last week’s regional final. On Pliev’s side are Fort Morgan’s James Hochanadel and Eagle Valley’s Cody Ponce, while Smith is grouped on the top half along with Sterling’s Drew Book. Buckle up for this one.
285: Can Alamosa’s Logan Thompson (38-6) cap a magical weekend for the Mean Moose by winning the last match of the season Saturday night? That’s certainly his goal. Middle Park’s Tel Linke sits on the same semi bracket, while returning podium placers Sy Spitz of Lamar and Jeremy Murano of Eaton are positioned on the lower half.