Interestingly enough, Class 4A has the fewest number of returning state champions — but it also boasts three returning champions who are aiming for prep immortality by becoming four-timers. Mix in that intrigue with a loaded team race, dozens of compelling storylines, and you have a recipe for a delicious weekend ahead. (Interesting note about the number 4- four of the last eight 4x-ers have been in Class 4A).
Of course, one of the most talked about storylines will be those on the quest for a four-peat — Windsor’s Dominick Serrano (132) and Isaiah Salazar (182), and Pueblo East’s Andy Garcia.
Serrano has never been beaten in high school, something that has only once been accomplished by a four-timer (Kyle Sand of Arvada West completed the feat back in 2004). He and Salazar can also become the first pair of teammates to complete the four-peat in the same season, coincidentally becoming the first in school history to become four-timers as well.
And Garcia can also make school history by becoming the first East Eagle to win four state titles. He was also part of the history-making East team that won the school’s first team wrestling title a year ago.
So, with all that said, which teams should we be watching this weekend? Well, Windsor and East have more than just a couple of wrestlers; those two will likely duke it out for the right to take home team trophy come Saturday night.
Pueblo County is slated to be in the mix as well, as should Pueblo West with its state-best 13 qualifiers. The 4A tournament never, ever, disappoints. And this year will be no different!
Defending Team Champion: Pueblo East
In The Mix (# Of Qualifiers): Pueblo West (13), Pueblo East (11), Windsor (11), Mesa Ridge (11), Pueblo County (10)
Returning Individual Champions (Year Won, Weight Won):
- Dominick Serrano, Windsor, sr., 132 (2019, 132; 2018, 126; 2017, 120)
- Darren Green, Broomfield, sr., 145 (2019, 138)
- Jax Garoutte, Pueblo County, sr., 152 (2019, 145)
- Isaiah Salazar, Windsor, sr., 182 (2019, 182; 2018, 170; 2017, 152 – Eaton)
- Andy Garcia, Pueblo East, jr., 285 (2019, 285; 2018, 285; 2017, 285)
In The Mix
106: In a bracket that consists largely of newcomers, Loveland’s Kobi Johnson (so., 32-5) emerges as one of the top contenders to beat. Johnson finished third in this weight class a year ago and enters as the top seed, having scored a regional title a week ago. Among the freshmen looking to make their mark downtown will be Pueblo East’s L.J. Herburger (29-6), Windsor’s John Kenney (26-9), and Lewis-Palmer’s Isiah Blackmon (33-3).
113: This feels like one of those weight classes where the eventual champion could come from anywhere on the bracket. The top seed is Pueblo Centennial junior Dominic Castro (24-3), the 106-pound runner-up last year. Peppered elsewhere throughout the final 16 are a number of contenders, including Windsor senior Jake Trusty (29-9), Pueblo County junior Eric Griego (40-5), Pueblo East senior Anthony Franklin (30-10), Lewis-Palmer senior Skyler Hunt (34-6), and Erie junior Rudy Lopez (26-5).
120: Could there be a battle of the Bodens in Friday nights semifinal? It’s possible! Windsor senior Boden Baker (24-10) sits in pole position with Pueblo County frosh Boden White (32-12), also a regional champ, positioned in the same semi bracket. On the other side is stalwart Pueblo East freshman Weston Dalton (30-4), who has proven himself to be the real deal all season long and is considered to be the favorite (and ranked No. 1 by Tim Yount of On the Mat).
126: After a fourth-place finish at 132 pounds last season, Coronado’s Angel Flores (sr., 37-1) has dropped a class and found himself as the top seed at 126. Flores figures to be one of the favorites here, having won a regional title over another contender in Mountain View’s Malachi Contrereas (sr., 37-6). Broomfield’s Ryan Vigil (so., 40-4) will also factor in when it’s all said and done.
132: Dominick Serrano can be the first to make history when Saturday night rolls around — given that he wins his first three matches, of course. Serrano has never lost in Colorado, and would be the first of four potential four-timers to get his shot. He can complete an unbeaten prep run in the process of becoming the 25th wrestler in state history to win four titles. A worthy standing ovation is just four matches away for the Wizard.
138: After a year’s absence, Windsor junior Vance VomBaur (36-2) is back in a big way. VomBaur missed out on last year’s state tournament, one which he certainly would have been a major factor, due to injury. Now the Wizard is back as the top seed at 138, having navigated through a rigorous schedule with just two losses, both out of state at the Doc B in California. Others to watch include Lewis-Palmer’s Cole Stephenson (sr., 24-3) and up-and-coming Pueblo East frosh Sebstian Freeman (fr., 32-9).
145: There have no doubt been dozens of matches this season that have provided “Oooh’s” and “Ahhh’s”. But two that come to mind are the NCCT final between Daniel Cardenas and Vance VomBaur, and more recently the Top of the Rockies final between defending state champion Darren Green of Broomfield and returning runner-up Aaden Valdez of Pueblo East. Green (sr., 43-4) and Valdez (sr., 32-4) are accustomed to performing at the highest of levels; the two went toe-to-toe for the 4A crown last year, and have been on a collision course ever since. Will they run it back one more time? Prepare for fireworks, if so.
152: Speaking of running it back, Pueblo County’s Jax Garoutte (sr., 45-2), hopes to get the opportunity to avenge an earlier defeat at some point in this tournament. That loss came to Thomas Jefferson’s Isaias Estrada (jr., 38-3) earlier this season, and represents the only in-state blemish on the defending state champion’s record this season. The two were slated to meet in the region final a week ago, but Estrada pulled out due to medical forfeit. If healthy, he would have to navigate the bottom half of the bracket against challengers like Longmont’s Brayden Engelking (sr., 25-3) and Greeley Central’s Zander Alirez (so., 33-4).
160: If Windsor is to claim the 4A team title, it will be because of a large Wizard population in the Parade of Champions. One of those Wizards could be senior Cody Eaton (30-3), who is the top seed and came up just short in his bid for a title a season ago. Also in the mix will be Thompson Valley’s Chase Engelhardt (sr., 46-5), Pueblo East’s Diego Duarte (jr., 27-9), and Pueblo West’s Hayden Crosson (jr., 35-5).
170: Another Wizard trending upward toward competing for a state title on Saturday night could be senior Tristan Perez (24-8), who burst onto the varsity scene last year with a fourth-place finish. Perez is the top seed this time around, and already owns a win over previously ranked No. 3 Emilio Chavez (sr., 37-7) of Mead. Ranked and seeded No. 2 in the weight is Montrose’s Ben Robuck (sr., 38-6).
182: This weekend could be one of the very best in Windsor High School history, and Isaiah Salazar (sr., 33-0) would be a big reason why. Salazar is one of four wrestlers competing to win a fourth state title this weekend. After winning his first title at Eaton, Salazar has become firmly entrenched as a Wizard (before he goes on to be a Minnesota Golden Gopher) and could go down in history with four straight wins this weekend.
195: The 195-pound bracket features a slew of returning placers, led by last year’s runner up in Cheyenne Mountain’s Nick Gagliardi (so., 35-4). Gagliardi figures to be challenged by the likes of Roosevelt senior Miles Beam (29-5, third at 170 last year), and Pueblo County’s Bryce Garcia (so., 32-6, third at 195 last year), among others.
220: After a third-place finish as a sophomore, Mesa Ridge senior Jared Volcic (36-1) just missed out on the podium a season ago. His regional title ultimately earned him the top seed in this year’s tournament, and is a large reason why Mesa Ridge won its region and could potentially challenge for a team trophy this weekend. Also in the mix at 220 will be Evergreen’s Noah Henderson (jr., 31-3), Cheyenne Mountain’s Jake Boley (jr., 35-6), Greeley Central’s Michael Serna (sr., 35-11), and Broomfield senior Bryant Walker (30-8).
285: Once again, all eyes could very well be on a history-making performance in the final match of the evening/tournament/season. That’s where Pueblo East senior Andy Garcia (29-3) would be making his bid for history. Garcia is the last of the four wrestlers aiming for a fourth state title, and he enters as the obvious top seed. When it comes down to it, there could be a familiar opponent standing on the other stripe. Broomfield’s Tyler Carpenter (sr., 31-2) lost a close match to Garcia in last year’s final and came up just short against the Eagle champ earlier this season as well.