With regionals in the rear view mirror, wrestling heads into its final weekend of the season. A total of 896 wrestlers from across the state qualified for the state championships, which begin Thursday at the Pepsi Center.
Rocky Ford will be sending the most in Class 2A, as the Meloneers advanced 13 out of the Region 4 field. That includes three individual champs. Michael Maldonado took the crown at 120 pounds, while Jadon Baldonado and Jesse Tapia earned titles at 160 and 220, respectively. Tapia won the state championship at 195 last year. The Meloneers hope their depth will help them upend two-time defending state champion, Wray, who has 11 in the state field.
Wray claimed the Region 3 title, powered by five individual champions. Brady Collins (106), Cade Rockwell (113), Tyler Collins (152), Emmanuel Huerta (160), and Jose Molina (220) all stood atop the podium for the Eagles.
Other than Tapia, there is only one wrestler from the area in Class 2A who will be looking for a second consecutive state title, Rye’s Michael Atencio. Atencio took the championship at 113 last year, but is the top seed at 120 this season. The wrestler he beat for the title last season, Rockwell, is the top seed at 113 and will be looking for his second championship in that weight class in the last three years.
Swink’s Michael Romero is seed No. 1 at 106 pounds and if chalk holds, he could meet Brady Collins in the finals. Those two are a combined 83-4 on the season. Tyler Collins is the top seed at 152, while Crowley County’s undefeated junior, Adam Schulz, has that honor at 170. Tapia is on the top line at 220.
Lamar claimed its seventh straight Class 3A Region 4 crown, and the Savages will be represented at state by eight wrestlers at state, including three regional champs. Zane Rankin, the defending 132-pound champion, will be the top seed at that weight after improving his record to 32-1, while Walker Kee (152) and Sy Spitz (285) also took their respective weight classes at regionals.
La Junta’s Mitchell Peabody took home the crown at 195 pounds in Region 4, and he finds himself in the top half of the draw, along with Brush’s Nick Wellen (35-1). Wellen finished fifth last year at 182. Like Wellen, Sterling’s Drew Book is also a top seed, holding down the top line at 220 pounds. Book was in the same position last year, and took fifth after being defeated by the eventual champion in the semifinals.
A complete listing of regional results and all of the state draws can be found on the Colorado Wrestling Network at cowrestlingnetwork.com.
Swimming and diving
The only area athlete to crack the top 10 in an event at the recently completed 3A state swimming and diving championships was La Junta’s Gracie Moreland, who finished fourth in the 100 backstroke. She trimmed close to half a second off her preliminary time and was only .03 seconds out of third place. La Junta finished 20th out of 32 teams in the event, while Holyoke ended up 29th.
Thanks to a 65-60 victory over Prairie last Friday, Fleming’s boys entered the final week of the regular season with a shot at earning a share of the North Central title. The Wildcats needed a win over Peetz on Tuesday, and then some help from Prairie on Friday. The Mustangs, who find themselves sitting third in the league, host leader Briggsdale on Friday. An upset victory, coupled with a Fleming win from earlier in the week, would result in a shared crown. A loss by Fleming hands the Falcons the outright championship.
Idalia has the YWKC lead and hosted Arickaree/Woodlin on Tuesday, needing a win to secure the title. However, a victory by the Indian-Mustangs would create a three-way tie going into their Friday showdown with Lone Star. In that scenario, the champion would be determined on head-to-head results between Idalia and the Arickaree/Woodlin-Lone Star result.
Walsh locked up the Ark Valley title with a 74-48 victory over Kim/Branson last Saturday. The Eagles used a second half scoring advantage of 42-19 to pull away for the win. They have a crucial non-league contest on Saturday against Cheyenne Wells. The winner will gain a boost in the RPI, but also get an edge in regional seeding.
Kit Carson rolled to its 16th straight win, beating Genoa-Hugo 83-34 in the final home game to be played in what is affectionately called the “new gym”. With a new school being constructed, the Wildcats will have a new “new gym” next season.
Fowler wrapped up the 2A Santa Fe title by downing Crowley County 65-36 in the 11th Annual Orville Tomky Pumpkin Game last Friday. The rivalry contest features a traveling trophy for the winner. Fowler has won each of the last two years.
Lamar and La Junta met on Tuesday in their annual rivalry game and a first round bye in the district tournament was on the line. Lamar entered the game fourth in the 3A Tri-Peaks, one game ahead of the Tigers. La Junta took two of three match-ups with the Savages last year, including one in the district tournament.
Burlington celebrated the accomplishments of a player and a coach last week, as Andrew Burton and Jake Trahern each reached an important milestone earlier in the season. Back on Feb. 1, the Cougars defeated Byers 68-64 in overtime. During that contest, Burton scored his 1000th career point. The victory was also Trahern’s 100th as a head coach. Neither knew they had hit those figures until last week.
Fleming Lady Wildcat Kendyl Kirkwood joined Burton in the 1000-point club last Friday. She nearly turned in a triple-double, posting 21 points, 12 rebounds, and nine steals. The junior is on pace for 1500 points and 1000 rebounds in her career. Her sophomore teammate, Whitney Chintala, is likely to join her next season, as she is already close to two-thirds of the way there in scoring. The Lady Wildcats look to share the NCL crown with Briggsdale, and are in good shape to be the top seed for the 1A District 4 tournament next week.
The big contest that everyone has had eyes on in the Ark Valley is finally here. Springfield and South Baca square off on Thursday, with the winner grabbing the league title. Springfield has won 14 straight heading into the road contest; while the Patriots have won their last two after having their own 14-game winning streak snapped last Monday. The Longhorns were first in RPI at the start of the week, with South Baca in fourth, so the winner has a good shot of being the top seed for regionals in two weeks.
Heavyweights were set to collide in the 2A Santa Fe on Tuesday, when Rocky Ford hosted Rye. Both teams entered the contest 18-0, with Rocky Ford fifth in the RPI and the Lady T-bolts ninth. Rye has three players who average double figures, including Sophie Adamson (14.7) and Sydney Adamson (10.3). Jolee Ortiz pops in 13.5 points a night. Rocky Ford counters with Abi Snyder, who scores 18 points a night, and snags close to six steals a contest.
Holyoke completed its unbeaten run through the Lower Platte with lopsided wins over Akron and Caliche last week. The Lady Dragons visit Yuma on Thursday for a non-league tilt. Holyoke won the conference meeting 52-31 three weeks ago. Kristin Vieselmeyer led the way with 26 points and 12 rebounds in that win.
Sole possession of third place in the 3A Patriot was at stake on Tuesday when Brush visited Platte Valley. The teams were tied at 7-2 in league play, one game back of second place Eaton. When comparing how each team has done against the two above them in the standings, Brush fell to University by 10 (50-40) and one to Eaton (45-44). Platte Valley dropped a 15-point decision to University (56-41) and an eight-point game to Eaton (56-48). Brush won five straight heading into the game on Tuesday, while Platte Valley took three straight victories into the match-up.
Fort Morgan put itself in position to possibly finish seventh in the Tri-Valley by completing a season sweep of Frederick. The Lady Mustangs, who beat Frederick 53-36 at home last month, earned a 52-36 win on the road last Friday. That puts them one game back of Roosevelt in the loss column ahead of their meeting on Friday. Fort Morgan won the earlier contest with the Lady Roughriders, 50-46, on the road. The winner will finish seventh in the league standings.