10 WRESTLERS TO WATCH

Nick Babcock, Broomfield
: He took third in Class 4A as a junior last season and expects to compete for a state title again in 2011-12.

Clay Bunker, Erie: Disappointed by a fifth-place finish at last year's Class 4A state tournament, the senior is after nothing less than the top spot on the podium in 2011-12.

Jesse Carlson, Legacy: He's back for his senior season and a defense of his 152-pound, 5A state championship.

Kyle Couch, Mead: As a freshman last season, he took third in Class 3A at 145 pounds.

Phil Downing, Broomfield: He was a Class 4A, 119-pound state champion as a freshman last season and is back to repeat at 132 pounds.

Hans Lehndorf, Boulder: He ended his junior season in 2010-11 with a 29-15 record, which was good enough to get him the final podium spot at the 5A state tournament.

Nick Stager, Niwot: He compiled a 38-10 record and went to the 4A state tournament as a junior in 2010-11. He will lead the Cougars again in 2011-12.

Drew Romero, Broomfield: The junior won the 2010-11 Class 3A state title at 103 pound while wrestling for La Junta last season.

Christian Valentine, Monarch: Last year he took fifth at the Class 5A state tournament and finished with a 36-8 record.


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Brandon Wetsch, Erie: After finishing fifth in Class 4A at 103 pounds as a freshman this year, his setting his sights higher as a sophomore.

 

POSTSEASON INFORMATION

--All regionals Feb. 10-11:

    5A Northern Region —  Local teams: Legacy, Monarch, Centaurus, Fairview. Location: Legacy HS.
    5A Metro Region — Local team: Boulder. Location: Bear Creek HS.
    4A Northern Region — Local teams: Erie, Frederick, Longmont, Niwot, Silver Creek, Skyline. Location: Longmont HS.
    4A Southern Region — Local team: Broomfield. Location: Pueblo State Fairgrounds. 
    3A Northern Region — Local team: Mead. Location: Weld Central HS.
    3A Central Region — Local team: Holy Family. Location: Bennett HS.
    2A Northeastern Region — Local team: Lyons. Location: Northeastern Junior College, Sterling.

--State tournament for all classifications is Feb. 16-18 at Pepsi Center in Denver.

TEAM CAPSULES


BOULDER PANTHERS

Coach:
Glenn Kingsley, 6th year.

Last year: Finished 34th at 5A state.

Returning state qualifiers: Jack Sober (Sr., 220), Hans Lehndorf (Sr., 285), Connor Murtha (Sr., 132), Babalu Jones (Sr., 106).

Others to watch: Tommy Smythe (Sr., 126), Axel Wessell (Jr., 182), Josh Harrison (So., 138), Beni Mehat (Jr., 160), Netish Shrestha (Sr., 152), Luis Escobar (So., 152).

Outlook: The Panthers feel like they've been a person or two away from greatness the past few years. Returning five state qualifiers and seven seniors this year, they feel like this could be their year.

 

BROOMFIELD EAGLES

Coach: Joe Pereira, 2nd year.

Last year: Finished 2nd at 4A state.

Returning state qualifiers: Drew Romero (Jr., 106), Jonathan Stelling (Sr., 126), Phil Downing (So., 132), Nick Babcock (Sr., 152).

Others to watch: Zach Stodden (So., 138), Connor Eaks (Jr., 195), Darek Huff (Fr., 106).

Outlook: After taking second in Class 4A last year, the Eagles have a state title on the brain. With Phil Downing returning as state champ and the addition of transfer Drew Romero, who won a Class 3A state title, the Eagles expect to compete for the overall team championship.

 

CENTAURUS WARRIORS

Coach: Cisco Gonzales, 10th year.

Last year: Finished 27th at 5A state.

Returning state qualifiers: Adam Thomas (Jr., 113-120).

Others to watch: Adonis Jaramillo (Jr., 106), Andrew Aragon (Jr., 113), Tristen Archuleta (So., 120-126), Chris Bangston (So., 126-132), Tyler Harrington (Fr., 138-145).

Outlook: The Warriors' goal is to get as many wrestlers down to state as possible. Coach Gonzales expects they'll be tough at the lower weights, but are a bit of a work-in-progress at the upper weights.

 

ERIE TIGERS

Coach: Steve Gratton, 3rd year.

Last year: Finished 24th at 4A state.

Returning state qualifiers: Clay Bunker (Sr., 145-152), Brandon Wetsch (So., 113).

Others to watch: Ladd Bunker (So., 145-152), Justin Vang (Sr., 120).

Outlook: Behind returning state placers Clay Bunker and Brandon Wetsch, the Tigers are expecting to have a tough group this year. Lacking depth in the higher weight classes, the Tigers may not have the best dual lineup. But they expect to do well in tournaments.

 

FAIRVIEW KNIGHTS

Coach: Jim Lefebvre, 7th year.

Last year: Finished 54th at 5A state.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Maddy Lignell (Jr., 120), Chris Robinson (Jr., 138), Andrew Bedell (Sr., 152), Conner McGraw (Sr., 285).

Outlook: The Knights will be replacing 10 of 14 weight classes from last year, so for the guys who have been waiting in the wings, it is their chance to shine. For the returning varsity members, it is an opportunity to turn the corner. Lefebvre is highly optimistic about his relatively young squad.

 

FREDERICK WARRIORS

Coach: Jerry Galway, 34th season.

Last season: Finished 46th at 4A state.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Tyler Ashton (Jr., 120), Jacob Vargas (Jr., 182).

Outlook: The Warriors graduated three state qualifiers last season and will look to fill in with a solid junior class. They also have incoming freshmen with some talent. Overall, it should be a rebuilding year for the Warriors.

 

HOLY FAMILY TIGERS

Coach: Juan Lucero, 4th year.

Last year: Finished 35th at 3A state.

Returning state qualifiers: Joseph Pendleton (Sr., 126), Daniel Carvalho (Sr., 132), Clayton Keefe (Sr., 120).

Others to watch: Vincent Casados (Fr., 106), Joseph Prieto (Fr., 113), Julian Prieto (Fr., 120), Kyle Spangler (Sr., 170).

Outlook: The Tigers are positive, given they believe their seniors all have a chance to make it to state. Add a good mix of freshman talent, and they're at least stronger than last season's team, which sent five wrestlers to state.

 

LEGACY LIGHTNING

Coach: Mike Thompson, 12th year.

Last year: Finished 9th at 5A state.

Returning state qualifiers: Collin Randall (Sr., 132), Jesse Carlson (Sr., 152), Austin Yurko (Sr., Hwt).

Others to watch: Connor Casady (Jr., 170), Jeremy Garner (Sr., 182), David Hebel (Sr., 195), Tyler Stroup (Jr., 113), Cody Southard (Sr., 160), Skyler McWee (Jr., 220).

Outlook: Focused on league, regionals and state each year, Thompson has another good group led by defending state champ Carlson. Thompson thinks the Lightning have the ability to "make some noise at state" and win the Front Range League and regional tournaments.


LONGMONT TROJANS

Coach: Adam Keiswetter, 3rd year.

Last year: Finished 25th at 4A state.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Drake Greott (So., 145), Connor Stengel (Jr., 152), Forrest Wetterstrom (Jr., 195), Chris Chacon (Sr., 182).

Outlook: Last year the Trojans had four seniors qualify for the state tournament and two medaled, but now there are some fresh faces who are looking forward to get their shot to compete for state honors. They are a young team but return several sophmores and juniors with varsity experience. They also have a large freshmen class with lots of talented kids who will challenge for varsity positions right away.

 

LYONS LIONS

Coach: Chip Sullivan, 4th year.

Last year: Finished 44th at 2A state.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Billy Housely (Jr., 145), Thomas Nichols (So., 152), Marcos Rodriguez (Sr., 182), David Plute (Jr., Hwt).

Outlook: After last season, the Lions graduated three senior state qualifiers. They're a young team, but most of Sullivan's kids have 4-5 years of wrestling experience coming out of a solid middle school program.

 

MEAD MAVERICKS

Coach: Ty Tatham, 3rd year.

Last year: Finished 25th at 3A state.

Returning state qualifiers: Cody Heskett (Sr., 113), Kyle Couch (So., 152), Nick Baldwin (Sr., 160), Greg Rademacher (Sr., 170).

Others to watch: Ian Stinson (Sr., 145), Eric Rademacher (Sr.), Nick Testroet (Sr., Hvwt.), Jorge Cortez (So., 195).

Outlook: Tatham has a pretty solid group in the program's third year. Looking to be at their best at the end of the season, the Mavericks will draw on performance and leadership from the program's first senior class. Tatham said, "It's nice to get to that point where you have some people you can point to and call on as role models."

 

MONARCH COYOTES

Coach: Ezra Paddock, 5th year.

Last year: Finished 36th at 5A state.

Returning state qualifiers: Christian Valentine (Sr., 120).

Others to watch: Justin Butler (Sr., 126), Scott Podlogar (Sr., 145), Joe Tucker (Sr., 160), Gus Sawicki (Sr., 182), Mike Hattel (Sr., 195), Travis Schluter (Sr., 220), Devon Underhill (Sr., 152).

Outlook: Their senior-dominated roster gives them balance up and down the lineup. Head coach Ezra Paddock feels that many of his wrestlers were knocking on the door last year as juniors and could make the push to the state tournament this year.

 

NIWOT COUGARS

Coach: Scott Sanchez, 7th year.

Last year: Finished 52nd at 4A state.

Returning state qualifiers: Nick Stager (Sr., 145).

Others to watch: Colin Frank (Sr., 120), Cristian Ramirez (Jr., 132), Marcus Cano (So., 126), Joey Lambert (So., 138), Clay Robinson (Fr., 106).

Outlook: Stager is taking a big leadership role this year for the Cougars. After missing out on a medal last year, he is motivated to get on the state podium in February. Niwot also has a handful of sophomores, led by Cano and Lambert, with varsity experience looking to make waves this year. Robinson could be their surprise wrestler of the season.

 

SILVER CREEK RAPTORS

Coach: Michael Silva 11th year.

Last year: Finished 53rd at 4A state.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Nate Dunlavy (Sr., 195), Danny Bishop (Jr., 120-126), Cody Sadler (So., 160), CJ Moore (So., 132-138), Tarin Smedley (So., 106), Michael Dente (Jr., 145), Dakota Silva (Fr., 182), Nicoli Nielsen (Fr., 145-152), Andrew Black (Fr., 120-126).

Outlook: The Raptors will be a young team led by Dunlavy, Bishop and Sadler. They'll have to fill in around them with young but talented guys.


SKYLINE FALCONS

Coach:
Morgan Thompson, 1st year.

Last year: Finished 11th at 4A state.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Braden Richards (Jr., 106), Spencer Frederick (Sr., 145), Jr. Gonzales (Jr., 138), Uilani Kaneco (Jr., 132).

Outlook: First-year head coach Morgan Thompson believes in high expectations, but there's no set standard other than working hard this season. After losing a handful of state qualifiers to graduation, Thompson expects the Falcons' doing little things correctly will pay off come regionals.