There’s definitely an added burst of energy this weekend.
Whether it’s fighting for that extra takedown, chain wrestling to get out from bottom, or working for one more turn to score bonus points for the team, regional wrestling brings out the best in every young wrestler.
This week, hundreds of hungry grapplers will hit the mat in the hopes of achieving a dream — or at least making it one step closer to doing so.
The top four wrestlers in each of the 56 brackets split among 16 regions and four classifications will qualify for the state tournament at Pepsi Center, designated as the Colorado High School wrestling mecca for one shining weekend each February.
That makes 896 total wrestlers who will punch a ticket to the big show this weekend — but first, there’s a whole lot of wrestling to be done.
Here’s a quick glance at each regional tournament in Class 2A and Class 3A, with rankings provided as always by Tim Yount and On the Mat:
2A Region 1
Where: Montrose Event Center
Who: Paonia (#3), Hotchkiss (#7), Highland (#8), Norwood, Meeker, Soroco, Hayden, Mancos, Dolores, Dove Creek, West Grand, Ignacio, Nucla, Rangely, North Park
The Tilt: Double the regional action; double the fun! Held in conjunction with the 3A Region 1 tournament, the 2A edition features enough hammers to fill a shed the size of the Montrose Event Center. Since the top eight teams from last year’s 2A tournament were split, the idea was to make the regions more competitive, and that appears to be the case here. Paonia aims to get enough qualifiers to make a real push at state, though Highland and Hotchkiss will make that a bit more challenging. Top-ranked wrestlers include Meeker’s Tannen Kennedy (145) and Paonia’s Grey Neal (160) and Anthony Felice (195).
Weight Watch: Five top-10 wrestlers highlight the 138-pound division, which could make for an interesting watch all weekend. Paonia’s Sackett Chesnik (#2), Hotchkiss’ Traycer Hall (#5), and Highland’s Lucas Hefner (#6) highlight one of the brackets that could have major team race implications.
Brackets/Results: Region 1 – Montrose
2A Region 2
Where: John Mall HS
Who: Cedaredge (#4), Centauri (#5), John Mall (#6), Dolores Huerta, Del Norte, Custer County, Sierra Grande/Centennial, Rye, Hanover, Center, Sanford, Sargent, Mountain Valley, Monte Vista, Platte Canyon, Colorado D&B
The Tilt: This region actually has the fewest ranked wrestlers (36 total), but that doesn’t mean it lacks firepower. Far from it, in fact. Fourth-ranked Cedaredge, led by defending state champions Trey Geyer (120) and Sean Dale (132) were shuffled in along with host John Mall and 2A newcomer Centauri. Also worth watching: Rye has never produced a state champion wrestler, but Michael Atencio (#1, 113) can take another step toward making school history this week. The sophomore seeks his second regional title for the T-Bolts.
Weight Watch: One of the more enticing brackets is 132, where Dale is set to mix it up with a host of highly ranked contenders. Among them is Tyler Vigil of Monte Vista, who ranks #2 behind Dale, and John Mall’s Anthony Aldretti (#6).
Brackets/Results: Region 2 – John Mall HS
2A Region 3
Where: Akron HS
Who: Wray (#1), Lyons, Burlington, Fowler, Yuma, Akron, Sedgwick County/Fleming, Holyoke, Wiggins, Merino, Byers, Gilpin County, Clear Creek, Limon, Stratton, Loveland Classical
The Tilt: Wray, Wray, Wray, and Wray. It’s all about watching Wray in the Region 3 tournament — among other wrestlers and teams, of course. But any team that wants a shot at dethroning the defending 2A champ will have a close eye on the number of qualifiers the Eagles churn out over the weekend. Before they formally attempt to defend their title, top-ranked Carlos Tarin (170) and Jeron Lippert (285) look to guide the Eagles to a Region 3 crown.
Weight Watch: Defending 106-pound champion Seth McFall of Fowler (#2) and returning third-place finisher Cole Rockwell of Wray (#4) are among a fairly loaded 106-pound division. Shifting up to 160, there will be plenty to sort out with four of the top six in the field: Merino’s Trent Elliot (#2), Wray’s Cade Hillman (#3), Akron’s Derrick Poss (#4), and Holyoke’s Luis Chafino (#6).
Brackets/Results: Region 3 – Wiggins
2A Region 4
Where: Otero Junior College (La Junta)
Who: Rocky Ford (#2), County Line (#9), Crowley County (#10), Peyton, Holly, Swink, Ellicott, Kiowa, Cheyenne Wells, Baca County, Calhan, Miami-Yoder, Las Animas, Lotus, Trinidad, Buena Vista
The Tilt: Much like the other 2A contenders, the Meloneer matmen need big-time numbers if they hope to dethrone Wray in the showdown at The Can. The numbers, of course, add up simply by taking care of business and finishing on the top four spots on the podium. The Meloneer charge is led by 2017 state champion Dillon Jaramillo (#3, 120), Joziah Maestas (#4, 132), and Jesse Tapia (#3, 195). Top-ranked individuals in the field include Trinidad’s Alberto Felthager (106), Holly’s Brendyn Nordyke (126), and County Line’s Dawson Roesch (182) and Jayce Bauer (220).
Weight Watch: Several swing weights could make a huge difference in the team race (both this week and next), particularly for Rocky Ford and even Crowley County. But lots of eyes will surely be on the 132-pound class, where Swink’s Adam Nolte (#3) heads a hefty group that also includes returning state placers in Maestas and Holly’s Austin Crum.
Brackets/Results: Region 4 – Otero Junior College
3A Region 1
Where: Montrose Event Center
Who: Alamosa (#1), Pagosa Springs (#4), Moffat County, Grand Valley, Olathe, Montezuma-Cortez, Bayfield, Delta, Rifle, Steamboat Springs, Basalt, Glenwood Springs, Coal Ridge, Gunnison
The Tilt: Defending 3A state champion Alamosa has proven to be all that and a bag of Mean Moose chips this season. With multiple tournament titles, including the 2A/3A state dual championships, under their belt, the Moose head into Region 1 as the clear favorites not just this week — but next as well. Two-time state champion senior Joe Chavez (#1, 126) leads the Moose and seeks his fourth regional crown this week. But keep an eye on Pagosa Springs, which has been ranked in and around the top five all year, led by top-ranked Cameron Lucero at 145 pounds.
Weight Watch: There are several deeply loaded weights at this tournament. But the 132-pound bracket potentially features six wrestlers ranked inside the top 16. But with only four spots to go around, the grouping of Colton Liddell (Alamosa, #4), James Thomas (Pagosa, #5), Cauy Smith (Rifle, #8), Matthew Flores (Glenwood Springs, #12), and Isaiah Herod (Moffat County, #13) will have to sore this out on the mat.
Brackets/Results: Region 1 – Montrose
3A Region 2
Where: Platte Valley HS
Who: Valley (#6), Fort Morgan (#9), Berthoud (#10), Sterling, Fort Lupton, Platte Valley, Holy Family, Bennett, Estes Park, Univesity, Denver West, Faith Christian, Resurrection Christian, Riverdale Ridge
The Tilt: Riverdale Ridge? This regional tournament must be sponsored by Archie Comics. *Crickets*. All jokes aside, the Region 2 tournament is no laughing matter. Between Fort Morgan, Valley, Berthoud, Fort Lupton, and others, the team race will be tight and exciting throughout. James Hochanadel (#1, 220) and the Fort Morgan Mustangs could have the depth to make the difference, but the Vikings of Valley have quietly been peaking at the right time. It all comes down to this!
Weight Watch: Get your popcorn ready for the 160-pound bracket. Top-ranked Jaziah Whaley of Valley (#1) looks to defend his 2018 regional crown, but Mac Copeland of Bennet (#3) comes from a strong wrestling pedigree and could certainly be in the mix. Other 160-pound contenders include Platte Valley’s Josh Yancey (#4), Fort Lupton’s Koby Galicia (#5), and Fort Morgan’s Seth Aleman (#8).
Brackets/Results: Region 2 – Kersey (Platte Valley)
3A Region 3
Where: Jefferson HS
Who: Jefferson (#2), Eaton (#3), Eagle Valley (#5), Weld Central, Elizabeth, Skyview, Conifer, Sheridan, Alameda, Mullen, Strasburg, Arvada, Englewood, Middle Park
The Tilt: The Saints of Jefferson play host to maybe the best 3A regional from top to bottom. With three teams ranked inside the top five, including the host, Region 3 offers plenty of appetizing potential matchups and team races. Eaton’s push for the regional crown will be led by Dylan Yancey (#1, 138) and Jeremy Murano (#2, 285), while Eagle Valley boasts highly ranked contenders at multiple weights including Luke Morrisey at 120 (#3) and Lucas Comroe (#2) at 132. But the Saints have some home-run hitters of their own, including top-ranked Andrew Sansburn (132) and Nicholas Gallegos (152).
Weight Watch: Skyview’s Jaslynn Gallegos (#7) and Jefferson’s Cayden Condit (#12) both elected not to compete in the girls postseason and instead seek a place at the table in the boys postseason. Both have legitimate shots at qualifying for state (and doing damage there), but they must navigate at 106-pound field that also includes Weld Central’s Roberto Estrada (#3), Eagle Valley’s Matthew Medina (#5), and Eaton’s Armondo Munoz (#6), among others.
Brackets/Results: Region 3 – Jefferson HS
3A Region 4
Where: Pueblo Central HS
Who: Brush (#7), Lamar (#8), The Classical Academy, La Junta, Salida, Woodland Park, Florence, Pueblo Central, Colorado Springs Christian, Manitou Springs, Ridgeview Academy, James Irwin, Sierra
The Tilt: So long as the sun sets in the West, it seems that Lamar will perennially be a prime contender for a regional title each year. The 2019 edition of the Region 4 tournament is no different, but keep an eye on Duke commit Wyatt Pfau (#1, 160) and the Brush Beetdiggers as well. Elsewhere, Pueblo Central’s own Jimmy Gonzales (#5, 126) seeks to score a regional title in his home gym.
Weight Watch: There’s a potential for two different #1 vs. #2 matchups here in Region 4. At 120 pounds, La Junta’s defending state champion Isaiah Gamez (#1) and Lamar’s Ethan Andrade (#2) have gone back and forth in recent weeks, and there could be another clash in the regional finals. Then at 182, TCA’s Nathan Johns (#1) and Brush’s Nick Wellen (#2) also appear to be on a collision course.
Brackets/Results: Region 4 – Pueblo Central