LOVELAND -- Griff Wendland looked to be a shoo-in for state. Preston McQuade faced long odds.
Somehow, the script was flipped Saturday for the Monarch wrestlers.
McQuade, a sophomore 120-pounder, will be heading to state next weekend at the Pepsi Center. Wendland, a senior who wrestles at 152, narrowly missed his opportunity.
In the Class 5A Region 3 tournament at Loveland High School, youthful Monarch recorded three place-winners, with McQuade earning a state berth. Fairview was also on hand and had five place-winners, although none advanced to state.
The top four wrestlers at each weight advanced from Saturday's tourney.
"We knew we were going to be young this year, and they've battled all year and gotten better," Monarch coach Ezra Paddock said. "All 10 kids who wrestled today wrestled their minds out. I couldn't be more pleased with them."
Wrestling for an opportunity to reach the third-place match, McQuade was slammed to the mat by Bear Creek's Jaysen Yacobsen. Slammed illegally. McQuade was shaken up and won the match when Yacobsen was disqualified. Still a bit dinged up, he didn't participate in the third-place match, but a fourth-place standing got him to the Pepsi Center.
"It's exciting, but it gives me some nerves, because a lot is going to be expected of me," said McQuade, who will head to state with a 28-18 record. "I had a losing record last year, but I think it definitely helped. I wasn't interested in football, and it made me decide that I was really interested in wrestling, so I worked on it over the summer."
Wendland had a chance to punch his ticket to state in the third-place match against Kolton Maybury of Grand Junction Central. But despite nearly pinning Maybury in the final moments, Wendland lost 13-7.
That meant a wrestleback against Poudre's Taylor Ziolkowski with a trip to state on the line. Wendland led 2-0 entering the third period, but was pinned 46 seconds into the final round.
"I was tired, obviously, with it being my seventh match in two days," said Wendland, who finished 35-16. "Coming off losing a match and going against a kid who just won a match by pin, it was hard to overcome."
Monarch had a third regional placer in 112-pounder Ben Ferrera, who finished fifth after defeating Prairie View's Kenyan Davis 2-0 in overtime in the fifth-place match.
Overall, Paddock was satisfied after graduating state contestants Christian Valentine and Michael Hattel and a bevy of other seniors from last year's squad. And he knows how beneficial the experience will be for McQuade.
"If you get the shock and awe out of being on those mats your sophomore year, then the next few years, it's not nerve-wracking anymore," Paddock said.
Fairview finished 12th in the team standings -- one spot behind Monarch -- and had five wrestlers head to the podium for a top-six finish.
Cito Ballsells had the best chance to advance to state. He won his fifth-place match at 170 pounds, beating Poudre's Brayden Hubbard 7-2 to earn a wrestleback against Rocky Mountain's Alex Klaer.
Klaer, though, pinned the junior in 2:21.
"Coming into the tournament, if you would have told me I'd have five regional placers, I would have done a jig," Fairview coach Jim Lefebvre said. "I had a couple guys turn the corner, a couple guys win some matches that were very tough."
Also placing for Fairview were Preston Cates (sixth at 103 pounds), Cliff Lester (sixth at 126), Melvin Gutierrez (fifth at 138) and Chris Robinson (sixth at 145). Lefebvre was disappointed that Robinson, the Knights' captain, missed out on a chance for state, but said qualifying for the Pepsi Center-based even doesn't solely define a season.
"Ultimately, you want to get guys there," Lefebvre said. "But if you pin everything to whether or not you go downtown, ultimately, it can't be an all-or-nothing proposition.
"Knowing next year we'll have four returning regional placers, it sets the stage for an easier region because we're going to be one of the better teams rather than one of the lower teams."
Centaurus was injury-ravaged entering the tournament and had only five wrestlers compete. Each lost in the first round, all by technical fall or pin other than 195-pounder Michael Steele.
Steele took first-round opponent Austin Brost of Poudre to overtime, but lost 5-3.
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Class 5A Region 3 tournament
At Loveland HS
Team scores -- Rocky Mountain 257, Greeley West 198, Brighton 151.5, Cherokee Trail 147, Grand Junction Central 136.5, Ralston Valley 123, Poudre 116.5, Prairie View 115, Bear Creek 82.5, Northglenn 70, Monarch 59.5, Fairview 50, Thornton 40, Montbello 35, Loveland 29, Centaurus 6.
106 -- Anthony Garza, Greeley West, pinned Cian Apple, Ralston Valley, 2:31.
113 -- Dylan West, Greeley West, dec. Maurisio Garcia, Northglenn, 6-1.
120 -- Adrian Delacruz, Greeley West, dec. Eric Yamaguchi, 10-5.
126 -- Emilio Martinez, Greeley West, tech. fall Jacob Rubalcaba, Grand Junction Central, 18-3.
132 -- P.T. Garcia, Bear Creek, pinned Shederick Boyd, Greely West, 3:31.
138 -- Roman Ortiz, Rocky Mountain, dec. Luis Bejarano, Prairie View, 6-4 (OT).
145 -- Alec Wyatt, Prairie View, pinned Danny Clark, Rocky Mountain, 3:24.
152 -- Harley Korte, Cherokee Trail, def. Michael Fanning, Rocky Mountain, DQ.
160 -- Konnor Schmidt, Rocky Mountain dec. Dalton Wadkins, Brighton, 4-3.
170 -- Diego Rogel, Cherokee Trail, def. Steve Ullman, Ralston Valley, DQ.
182 -- Joel Hernandez, Brighton, pinned Trent Rogers, Cherokee Trail, 2:21.
195 -- Luiz Perez, Rocky Mountain, major dec. Rocky Michaelson, Ralston Valley, 16-6.
220 -- Jakob Buys, Ralston Valley, pinned Dan Macoubre, Rocky Mountain, 0:32.
285 -- Austin Waterman, Greeley West, dec. Tony Martinez, Rocky Mountain, 3-2.
LOCAL THIRD-PLACE MATCHES
120 -- Kyler Schmidt, Rocky Mountain, injury default Preston McQuade, Monarch (McQuade advanced to state as fourth-place finisher).
152 -- Kolton Maybury, Grand Junction Central, dec. Griff Wendland, Monarch, 13-7.
LOCAL FIFTH-PLACE MATCHES
103 -- Tony Balderus, Brighton, tech. fall Preston Cates, Fairview, 17-0.
112 -- Ben Ferrera, Monarch dec. Kenyan Davis, Prairie View, 2-0 (OT).
126 -- Bradley Lehmann, Prairie View, pinned Cliff Lester, Fairview, 2:13.
138 -- Melvin Gutierrez, Fairview, dec. Ricky Lane, Brighton, 5-1.
145 -- Logan Trzeciak, Greeley West, dec. Chris Robinson, Fairview, 2-0.
170 -- Cito Ballsells, Fairview, dec. Brayden Hubbard, Poudre, 7-2.
(Winner qualifies for state)
152 -- Taylor Ziolkowski, Poudre pinned Griff Wendland, Monarch, 4:46.
170 -- Alex Klaer, Rocky Mountain pinned Cito Ballsells, Fairview, 2:21.