FREDERICK -- Having reached the championship match at regionals in each of his first two seasons, Erie junior Brandon Wetsch has twice been met by a tougher opponent.
In the finals his Wetsch's freshman year, state runner-up Joel Salomen from Windsor dashed his hopes of winning a regional title. His sophomore year, eventual state champion Steve Turner from Discovery Canyon denied him a regional crown in overtime of the championship match.
When Wetsch reached the Class 4A Region 2 132-pound final on Saturday at Frederick High School, Westch decided he would meet any immovable object as an unstoppable force. Wetsch, ranked fourth in Class 4A by Tim Yount's On The Mat rankings, pinned seventh-ranked Berthoud senior Alex Kingsley in 3 minutes, 19 seconds.
"Coming in here freshman year, being in the finals and not winning it, then being in the finals and not winning it again my sophomore year, this year I just pushed through," Wetsch said. "I was just out there thinking, 'Keep moving.' Then I got him on his back and I said to myself, 'Put him away. This is the time.'"
Westch said he wanted to initiate his hard setups. After shooting but going out of bounds, he realized he would need to put more pressure on Kingsley. Once he went up on the scoreboard, he turned his attention to finishing the match.
After the match, Wetsch said it did not matter who his opponent was in the finals.
"I just look at it like they're in my way of becoming a state champion," Wetsch said. "The only way I can become a state champion is if I push through these guys first."
Wetsch finished fifth at the state tournament his freshman year and fourth last season. With the regional title monkey off his back, Wetsch said he hopes to face Pueblo Central's top-ranked Sonny Espinoza, who beat him in the third-place match last year, at the state tournament next weekend.
Tigers teammate Ladd Bunker will join Wetsch at the state tournament after finishing second at 160 pounds. Bunker lost an 8-5 decision to Windsor's Vinny Gonzales in the championship match.
Also headed to state for the Tigers, junior William Schell won a 9-4 decision in the 145-pound third-place match. Sophomore Anthony Nieto placed fourth after losing to Windsor's Josh Villa in the 106-pound championship match and will also compete at state.
1 VS. 2 AT 182
It was a rematch of the top-ranked 182-pounders in the state that promised not to disappoint. And it didn't.
In the finals of the loaded 182-pound Region 2 bracket that featured the top four in Class 4A and six of the top 10, No. 1 and 2 met up for the second time in two weeks. For the second time in two weeks, Mead's Kyle Couch defended his top ranking by beating second-ranked Cosme Martinez from Windsor.
"We've wrestled each other before," said Couch, who beat Martinez 3-0 at the Tri-Valley League dual meet. "I knew what he was doing and he knew what I was going to be doing so we knew it was going to be close."
It was closer. The second time around, Couch defeated Martinez just 2-0. This time it was for a regional title. But this time Couch, who injured his back when Golden's Ian Cheatum threw him in the semifinals, had other things on his mind.
"I wasn't going to shoot because I hurt my back," Mead said. "The Golden kid is something like a Jujitsu national champion and he tossed me. I've hurt my back and it kind of tweaked it. It took away my offense on my feet."
Couch, who placed third at state last year, said the match did little more than determine state seeding since either wrestler likely will have to beat the other again for a state title.
Joining Couch at the state tournament from Mead will be 113-pounder Sage Budd, 220-pounder Jorge Cortez and 170-pounder Gabe Alvarado.
"I was surprised by how many kids were in the finals," Couch said. "Sage was good and Gabe and Jorge was huge, especially Jorge, that was his whole goal to make it to the finals and he did it. Now he's going to state."
WEIGHT CLASS WOES
Silver Creek sophomore Dakota Silva had a pretty good chance of making it to state, just not at 182 at the Region 2 tournament.
Silva, who has a 25-12 record this season, lost to top-ranked Cosme Martinez and ninth-ranked Josh Bucholz and was kept out of the top four.
"It doesn't take anything away," said Raptors head coach Michael Silva, who also said he considered moving his son up to 195. "He's all-conference, he won 25 matches and unfortunately, it was what it was."
After qualifying for the state tournament as a freshman last season, Frederick sophomore Jesse Ortiz says he's more prepared this year.
After moving up and beating Greeley Central's Brandon Rivas 2-1 to take third in his region at 113 pounds in his home gym on Saturday, he proved it.
"I'm excited this year, I'm ready," Ortiz said. "Last year was a big shock to be but this year I'm ready."
NEWCOMERS FROM NIWOT
Niwot junior 132-pounder Joey Lambert beat Windsor's Connor Lococ 7-3 to take third place. He will be one of two Cougars making his first appearance at the state tournament this weekend.
"I don't think it's really hit me yet," Lambert said. "I'm sure it'll hit me the day I get there. It's pretty exciting and I'm just happy."
Cougars sophomore 106-pounder Clay Robinson is also going to state for the first time after finishing second at the regional tournament.
Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi
4A REGION 2 TOURNAMENT
At Frederick HS
Team scores -- Windsor 284.5, Golden 136, Longmont 135, Roosevelt 125, Berthoud 121, Mead 107, Mountain View 102, Greeley Central 100, Weld Central 89.5, Northridge 87, Erie 77, Fort Morgan 74, Niwot 62.5, Frederick 53, Silver Creek 38, Skyline 17, Skyview 3.
106 -- Dalton Robertson, Weld Central, maj. dec. Clay Robinson, Niwot, 14-0.
113 -- Joel Salomon, Windsor, pinned Sage Budd, Mead, 1:37.
120 -- Jonathan Lewis, Windsor, pinned Juan Lopez, Northridge, 0:59
126 -- Ian Wingstrom, Fort Morgan, dec. Jimmy Fate, Berthoud, 9-2.
132 -- Brandon Wetsch, Erie, pinned Alex Kingsley, Berthoud, 3:19.
138 -- Jace Lopez, Roosevelt, dec. Jacob Gerken, Fort Morgan, 9-5.
145 -- Chad Ellis, Berthoud, dec. Paris Salas, Golden, 7-3.
152 -- Kennen Lanteri, Windsor, pinned Devin Rothrock, Golden, 4:00.
160 -- Vinny Gonzales, Windsor, dec. Ladd Bunker, Erie, 8-5.
170 -- Joseph Keller, Windsor, dec. Gabe Alvarado, Mead, 4-1.
182 -- Kyle Couch, Mead, dec. Cosme Martinez, Windsor, 2-0.
195 -- Jaime Ramos-Vega, Longmont, pinned Logan Longworth, Weld Central, 5:52.
220 -- Jacob Winter, Windsor, pinned Jorge Cortez, Mead, 2:00.
285 -- Dakota Gulley, Golden, maj. dec. Robert Bishop-Cotner, Windsor, 16-2.
LOCAL THIRD-PLACE MATCHES
106 -- Josh Villa, Windsor, dec. Anthony Nieto, Erie, 8-2.
113 -- Jesse Ortiz, Frederick, dec. Brandon Rivas, Greeley Central, 2-1.
132 -- Joey Lambert, Niwot, dec. Conor Lococ, Windsor, 7-3.
145 -- William Schell, Erie, dec. Paul Robeson, Greeley Central, 9-4.
152 -- Drake Greeott, Longmont, maj. dec. Jeremiah Clymer, Mountain View, 16-4.
160 -- Spencer Urban, Roosevelt, dec. Ivan Wolf, Longmont, 6-2.
170 -- Fernando Ramos-Vega, Longmont, pinned Brad Blackstock, Golden, 2:07.
285 -- Jorge Guerra-Munoz, Greeley Central, dec. Chris Palacios, Longmont, 4-1.
LOCAL FIFTH-PLACE MATCHES
120 -- Romelo Salas, Golden, dec. Braden Richards, Skyline, 6-5.
126 -- Eloy Valdez, Longmont, dec. Dustin Hayden, Roosevelt, 8-1.
132 -- Cody Campos, Frederick, pinned Harley Bending, Roosevelt, 3:36.
138 -- Jessie Slepicka, Niwot, dec. Jesus Contreras, Skyline, 10-5.
160 -- Chico Trujillo, Greeley Central, dec. Mitch Webster, Silver Creek, 6-5.
170 -- Quinton Barber, Mountain View, maj. dec. Sam Oliver, Silver Creek, 13-5.
182 -- Josh Buchholz, Weld Central, dec. Forrest Wetterstrom, Longmont, 9-5.
195 -- Kagen Henning, Berthoud, pinned Kenny Jones, Silver Creek, 1:50.
220 -- Evan Paxton, Weld Central, dec. Dutch Warner, Longmont, 8-5.