LAFAYETTE -- It is no secret the Top of the Rockies boasts some of the toughest brackets in the state. And the multi-state wrestling tournament has become the testing ground of champions.
Such a distinguished pedigree might have some wrestlers concerned. But not Kyle Couch. The Mead junior was strong in Friday's opening rounds of the invitational, and it showed in his methodical win over Valley's Everett Collins.
The Mavericks' 189-pounder had Collins on the ropes just seconds after the match's first whistle. And Couch did not let up until he had earned a 20-3 technical fall in the second round.
"I'm just treating every match here like I'm wrestling in the state championship," he said. "I think I'm off to a good start."
The second-round win was exactly what Couch was searching for in his team's first appearance in the tournament. The juniorhopes a solid run through testing brackets might act as a springboard for bigger things. Couch is expected to be a contender for a Class 4A state title and he is certain the Top of the Rockies has the potential to make him razor sharp. And he is not the only one who sees the value in the tournament building for a big state run.
"This is going to give him everything he needs to see where he is at," Mead coach Ty Tatham said. "And he's going to see who he needs to see to be ready."
Even with state in Couch's sights, the wrestler has more pressing goals before he make a trip to the Pepsi Center.
"I'm looking to win here," he said.
Couch was the highlight of Mead's otherwise rocky run through the championship brackets. The team brought nine wrestlers in its inaugural trip to the four-state competition. But after the second round Couch was the only Maverick left in contention for a title.
The early falters did not surprise Tatham. The Mead coach had no illusions about what his wrestlers were in for at the Top of the Rockies. But Tatham also believed his team had the potential to push a few more through.
"We lost a tough match at 113 (Sage Budd) in overtime," he said. "But even in our losses, our kids have been competing and raising their level of wrestling."
Even if the worst occurs and the Mavericks are denied a spot on the podium, Tatham is certain his team is better off from having competed at the Top of the Rockies. The coach drew on the old adage of having to wrestle the best to be the best.
"Hopefully Sunday morning, they can sit back and have some perspective of who they competed against," he said. "And hopefully that will push them the rest of the season."
Follow Elwood on Twitter @ElwoodKShelton.
Top of the Rockies Invitational
At Centaurus HS
Team scores -- Grand Island 86, Thompson Valley 78, Broomfield 71, Pomona 69, Rio Rancho 62.5; Rocky Mountain 56.5; Omaha North 51; Mountain Range 45, Ponderosa 44.5, Brighton 43; Greeley West 43; Valley 40.5; Pueblo South 40; Arvada West 38.5; Roosevelt 38; Fort Lupton 35.5; Cheyenne Central 33; Durango 33; Holy Family 33; Alamosa 32; Legacy 31; Loveland 31; Prairie View 29; Cherry Creek 28.5; Scottsbluff 28.5; Windsor 27; Fort Morgan 25; Grand Junction Central 24; Denver East 16; Mead 11.5; Sheridan 11; Arvada 8; Centaurus 2.
LOCAL FIRST-ROUND MATCHES
106 -- Blake Coen, Grand Island, major dec. Adonis Jarmillo, Cntaurus, 12-2; Ryan Deakin , Legacy, bye; Darek Huff, Broomfield, pin Gabe Sandoval, Arvada West, 2:47.
113 -- Drew Romero, Broomfield, pin Keynan Davis, Prairie View, 3:10; Vincent Casados, Holy Family, bye; Ben Medina, Fort Lupton, pin Andre Jaramillo, Centaurus, 1:10; Donovan Cogil, Legacy, pin Andy Bain, Fort Morgan, 1:00; Ruban Lucero, Valley, def. Sage Budd, Mead, 4-2.
120 -- Tyler Francis, Roosevelt, pin Trenton Blazon, Legacy, 2:49; Dylan Alvarez, Broomfield, pin Kyle Martinez, Grand Junction Central, :49.
126 -- Zach Moye, Ponderosa, pin Arturo Chaparro, Centaurus, :40; James Wells, Broomfield, bye; Justin Rheinheimer, Legacy, pin Dustin Hayden, Roosevelt, 2:36; Ray Bacca, Brighton, def. Austin Van Hooker, Mead, 5-3; Joseph Prieto, Holy Family, pin Ben Hewson, Thompson Valley, 5:04.
132 -- Bryce Meredith, Cheyenne Cental, tech fall Adam Otterson, Legacy, 17-3; Randal Baker, Broomfield, tech fall Cristian Cortez, Mead, 20-4; Devon Zavala, Denver East, pin Matt Pardoe, Holy Family, 1:54.
138 -- DeeCelreyell Shabazz, Cherry Creek, pin Justice Lovato, Mead, 3:01; Bobby Klob, Broomfield, bye; Brandon Heredia, Alamosa, tech fall Nolan Funk, Legacy, 15-0.
145 -- Phil Downing, Broomfield, bye; Anthony Mozal, Valley, pin Mackenzie Porter, Holy Family, 2:49; KaiJahn Henry, Omaha North, pin Cole Randall, Legacy, 2:41; Justin Montoya, Centaurus, def. Xavier Martinez, Denver East, 15-8.
152 -- Ethan Wright, Pomona, pin Chris Pechak, Legacy, 3:55; Michael Fanning, Rocky Mountain, maj. dec. Hugo Ramirez, Mead, 12-2; Charles Dunkleman, Loveland, pin Robert Jahn, Centaurus, 1:03; Jarod Albo, Broomfield, maj. dec. Mark Espinoza, Pueblo South, 8-0.
160 -- Chris Shiver, Fort Morgan, pin Marco Clark, Mead, 5:15; Joel Geers, Mountain Range, def. Connor Orban, Broomfield, 8-1; Connor Casady, Legacy, bye.
170 -- Zach Stodden, Broomfield, bye; Mat Stinson, Mead, bye.
182 -- Kyle Couch, Mead, bye; David Eusea, Thompson Valley, def. Theo Robison, Broomfield, 9-2; Trevor Smart, Pueblo South, pin Ben Lavoie, Holy Family, 1:20; Hunter Pasternack, Cherry Creek, pin Mark Gjestvang, Legacy, 3:07.
220 -- Austin Ramos, Valley, pin Michael Steele, Centaurus, :59; D.J. Zissimos, Broomfield, pin Andrew Dimmit, Roosevelt, 1:16; York Douglass, Ponderosa, pin Joel Meyer, Holy Family, 1:02.
285 -- Daniel Jansen, Holy Family, bye; Skylar McWee, Legacy, pin Daniel Chavez, Pomona, :50; Connor Eakes, Broomfield, pin Andres Martinez, Grand Junction Central, 3:58; Jorge Cortez, Mead, bye.
LOCAL SECOND-ROUND MATCHES
106 -- Ryan Deakin, Legacy, pin Ferdinando Martinez, Fort Lupton, 1:30; Darek Huff, Broomfield, maj. dec. Tony Balderas, Brighton, 17-8.
113 -- Drew Romero, Broomfield, tech fall Collin Williams, Thompson Valley, 20-5; Vincent Casados, pin Ben Medina, Fort Lupton, 3:51; Travis Torres, Pomona, tech fall Donovan Cogil, Legacy, 23-3.
120 -- Ladigo Williams, Rio Rancho, pin Dylan Alvarez, Brooomfield, 2;24; Julian Prieto, Holy Family, pin, Kyler Schmidt, Rocky Mountain, 2:30.
126 -- James Wells, Broomfield, pin Justin Rheinheimer, Legacy, 5:57; Joseph Prieto, Holy Family, pin Santiago Salazar, Rio Rancho, 1:18.
132 -- Tanner Williams, Thompson Valley, pin Randal Baker, Broomfield, 3:40.
138 -- Luis Bejarano, Prairie View, pin Bobby Klob, Broomfield, 2:52.
145 -- Phil Downing, Broomfield, pin Anthony Mozal, Valley, 2:40; Alec Watt, Prairie View, pin Justin Montoya, Centaurus, :27.
152 -- Randy Boerner, Mountain Range, maj. dec. Jarod Albo, Broomfield, 9-0.
160 -- Connor Casady, Legacy, pin Patrick Gore, Valley, 2:40.
170 -- Zach Stodden, Broomfield, maj. dec. Zach Gomez, Pomona, 9-0; Tony Silva-Bussey, Arvada West, pin Mat Stinson, Mead, 1:09.
182 -- Kyle Couch, Mead, tech fall Everett Collins, Valley, 20-3.
195 -- D.J. Zissimos, Broomfield, pin Jordana McKnight, Durango, 1;03.
220 -- Daniel Jansen, Holy Family, pin Kody Kleman, Mountain Range, 1:26; Connor Eakes, Broomfield, injury default Skylar McWee, Legacy; Austin Seeba, Loveland, def. Jorge Cortez, 5-3.
285 -- Tony Martinez, Rocky Mountain, pin Willy Clements, Holy Family, 2:15; Austin Harris, Broomfield, pin Michael Decker, Omaha North, 3:05.