Brendon Garcia is a mauler.
The Pueblo County High School senior weighs all of 113 pounds, but don’t let his stature fool you. Pound for pound, he might be the toughest grappler in the room at any given time.
Saturday at the East Invitational in Pueblo, Garcia put his bullishness on full display at 113 pounds. The three-time state champion picked up three falls by 2 p.m. and was ready for a rematch with Centennial’s Jacob Gonzales, whom he beat for the 4A 106-pound crown last February.
A TrackWrestling glitch and several hours later, the showdown finally arrived — and Gonzales gave Brendon all he could handle. The difference in the 4-3 decision was Garcia’s incomparable go-behind, a move that has become Garcia’s signature takedown — or at least his favorite takedown, as he said after the match.
The concept behind the move is simple, but the technique behind it is unmistakable. Garcia utilizes defense to stop a shot, motion and misdirection with a front headlock to keep the opponent off balance, and then speed and brute strength to slide his opponent by and go behind for two. Again, he’s a mauler.
“I’m not feeling too good (about the match), I didn’t wrestle too good,” Garcia said.
But the performance over a quality opponent still highlighted Garcia as one of the best wrestlers in the room, in the state, and in the nation.
Alamosa didn’t have a single individual champion, but instead displayed the true potential of team depth. The Mean Moose racked up 207 points to topple host East (193.5), thanks to 11 wrestlers who placed in the top four. Alamosa’s placers included:
- Davion Chavez, 3rd, 106
- Elijah DeLaCerda, 3rd, 113
- Kason Smith, 3rd, 120
- Joe Chavez, 2nd, 126
- Eyan Chavez, 3rd, 132
- Tyler Kenison, 2nd, 128
- Colton Liddell, 4th, 138 (didn’t score team points)
- Hunter Smith, 3rd, 145
- Kolten Hillis, 3rd, 152
- Austin Trujillo, 2nd, 220
- Logan Thompson, 2nd, 285
Woodland Park freshman Brady Hankin introduced himself in a big way Saturday by claiming the top spot on the podium in a loaded 106-pound bracket. Hankin’s first match was a 3-2 overtime winner over Centennial’s Dominick Castro.
All he did after that was beat defending 3A state champ Davion Chavez of Alamosa 8-5 in the semis and then take down South’s Mac Martinez (4A No. 1) 6-2 in the finals.
The 126-pound bracket also had a loaded field featuring three state champions, and the action did not disappoint.
Emerging from the gauntlet was Discovery Canyon’s Patrick Allis, a state champ and No. 1-ranked bringer of Thunder.
Allis topped Lamar’s Ethan Andrade to get to the final, where he met Alamosa’s Joe Chavez in a battle between state champs.
Allis launched Chavez to his back during the second period, nearly scoring a fall but settling for a 7-2 victory in the end.
Chavez had earlier beat Fort Lupton’s Jacob Duran, a 2017 state champion, by way of a 12-0 major decision.
When a two-time state champion doesn’t make the final and two wrestlers from one Mean team make the semis, you know that the bracket is full of hammers.
Top-seeded Wesley VanMatre, a two-time champ from John Mall, was upset in the quarters by Lamar’s Zane Rankin, who was then beat by Alamosa’s Tyler Kenison in the semis.
On the other side of the bracket, Alamosa’s Colton Liddell, wrestling unattached and not scoring team points, still turned in a solid performance. Liddell made the semis with a 7-5 overtime win over Tyler Valencia, a state champion out of Taos (N.M.).
But in the end, it was East’s own Aaden Valdez who put on his gold shoes and won the gold medal — in dominant fashion, no less.
Valdez pinned his way through the tournament and looked every bit like the No. 1-ranked 138 pounder he is. Valdez was one of five champions for East, joining Ryan Roth (132), Zion Freeman (195), Dom Robles (220), and Andy Garcia (285).
Jax Garoutte is a takedown machine. Arguably one of the most impressive performances was turned in by the Pueblo County junior, who scored two pins, a tech fall, and a major decision en route to his championship.
Garoutte put on a clinic in smooth footwork during his 18-8 finals victory over Berthoud state champ Austin Binkly. Whether it’s a duck-under, a high crotch, or even just a counter slip-drag, Garoutte has a full arsenal of takedowns in his bag — and his pace is unmatched.
Brendon Garcia and Garoutte stood atop the podium by fellow Hornets Christopher Fasano (160) and Jayson Davis (182).
The man in the middle of East’s run of three consecutive finals wins was Dom Robles, who saw teammate Zion Freeman overcome Rocky Ford’s Jesse Tapia at 195 just before he took the mat. At the same time, Andy Garcia was sliding past Alamosa’s Logan Thompson.
Robles, like Freeman, played in the Class 3A state championship football game just one week prior. The hardest part about the transition, Robles said, was the conditioning. But you wouldn’t know it by the way that Robles was forcing the action.
Robles scored at a steady pace on his way to an 18-8 major decision over Alamosa’s Austin Trujillo.
He talked more about his performance, his goals, and his favorite pasta after the match. Check out the full interview on our Twitter.
— Colorado Wrestling Network (@COWrestlingNet) December 9, 2018