WRESTLERS TO WATCH

JEREMY ASHTON, So., Mead — The Mavericks' highest returning placer will try to improve on a fifth place finish last year at 113 pounds.

DIMITRI BROWN, Sr., Fairview — The Knights don't have a ton of experience, but in Brown, they may have a one of a number of state qualifiers.

URIEL CONTRERAS, Jr., Skyline — The Falcons' lone returner has a chance to once again carry the Skyline flag at the state tournament.

RYAN DEAKIN, Sr., Legacy — Hands down the best wrestler in BoCo, if not the state. Northwestern commit has some unfinished business to take care of this season.

WILL HICKMAN, Sr., Longmont — Transferred to Longmont after finishing second last year at Lyons.

FORREST LALAGUNA, Sr., Centaurus — Made an impressive run to the semifinals through a tough field of heavyweights last year before finishing fifth.

JAKE LONGSTRETH, Jr., Frederick — The Warriors program needs someone to step up and break through to state ... he might be their best chance.

SAWYER NOVARRA, Jr., Silver Creek — Made the podium last year, finishing sixth at 106 pounds. Has a good chance to improve on that.

KANYON RAPER, Sr., Lyons — A devastating knee injury during football may derail his season, but if he decides he can go, he will be a force.

IAN SCOTT, Sr., Monarch — Another one of the 5A heavyweights from BoCo that is impressive. He anchors a Coyotes squad that has even bigger goals.


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TOMMY STAGER, Jr., Niwot — Has put in the work in the off-season and could become the first Cougars champion since 1993.

CONNOR VENTURA, Sr., Broomfield — Heads up what could be a much improved Eagles team that brings back four state qualifiers.

KOLSEN WELHAM, Jr., Holy Family — The lone holdover from the Tigers squad that finished eighth in 3A last season. Finished fifth at 152 pounds last season and will lead a young and experienced team by example.

POSTSEASON INFORMATION

* All regional tournaments Feb. 12-13.

2A Northeast Region 3 — Local team: Lyons. Location: Northeastern Junior College.

3A Northern Region 1 —- Local teams: Erie, Holy Family, Mead. Location: Eaton High School.

4A Northern Region 2 — Local teams: Frederick, Longmont, Niwot, Silver Creek, Skyline. Location: Thompson Valley High School.

5A South Region 2 -— Local team: Monarch. Location: Doherty High School.

5A North Region 3 —- Local teams: Boulder, Broomfield, Fairview, Legacy. Location: Legacy High School.

5A Metro Region 4 — Local team: Centaurus. Location: Central (G.J.) High School.

State tournament — All classifications will be held Feb. 18-20 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

TEAM-BY-TEAM CAPSULES

BOULDER PANTHERS

Coach: Gilbert Espinoza (2nd year).

Last year: Didn't score at 5A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Sasha Price (Sr., 170).

Outlook: The Panthers finally have some continuity in Espinoza, who puled the stop lever on the coaching carousel. He has a team that is basically starting from scratch and will do so with a talented sophomore class.

BROOMFIELD EAGLES

Coach: Pat DeCamillis (3rd year).

Last year: Finished 29th at 5A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Preston Renner (So., 106); Brandon Tyson (Sr., 113); Connor Ventura (Sr., 152); Mason Watt (So., 285).

Others to watch: Zach Walker (Sr., 195).

Outlook: The Eagles showing at state was not reminiscent of the team that really started to gel as the season progressed last year. DeCamillis is confident that this group has the potential to be a top 10 team at the state meet this year.

CENTAURUS WARRIORS

Coach: Cisco Gonzales (13th year).

Last year: Finished 34th at 5A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Forrest Lalaguna (Sr., 285).

Others to watch: Arturo Chaparro (Sr., 145); Victor Herrera (Sr., 113); Angel Mata (So., 160); Atiba Obika (Jr., 145).

Outlook: Six seniors return with varsity experience, including returning state placer Lalaguna. A young, but solid group of underclassmen lead by returner Mata should help the Warriors do well in tournament competition. Still looking to fill a few holes in the upper weights..

ERIE TIGERS

Coach: Steve Gratton (7th year).

Last year: Finished 26th at 4A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Toby Campbell (Sr., 145); Adam Evertz (Jr., 113); Ernie Quintana (Jr., 138).

Others to watch: Trevor David (Jr., 160); Adrian Rincon (Jr., 132).

Outlook: The little league program has provided Gratton a strong core of freshman to incorporate into his lineup. "We will have a solid lineup . This is the most competitive room of wrestlers that we have had in a while," Gratton said.

FAIRVIEW KNIGHTS

Coach: Jim Powell (1st year).

Last year: Finished 46th at 5A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Caleb Bergeson (Sr., 170); Dimitri Brown (Sr., 160); Walter Rose (Sr., 152); Allen Sease (Sr., 113).

Outlook: The 70 year-old Powell takes over the Knights that are a program looking for an identity. "I want kids to come out and the only way to do that is to have a successful program," Powell said. A good group of seniors have a chance to put their stamp on program.

FREDERICK WARRIORS

Coach: Joey Gardner (1st year).

Last year: Didn't score at 4A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Jake Longstreth (Jr., 182).

Outlook: Longstreth and few unproven freshmen have a chance to break through for a Warriors program that is under the direction of longtime youth director Gardner. The numbers are up from just 13 a year ago to over 20.

HOLY FAMILY TIGERS

Coach: Nestor Pino (1st year).

Last year: Finished 8th at 3A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Kolsen Welham (Jr., 152).

Others to watch: None.

Outlook: The Tigers lost a ton. But Pino comes from a wrestling rich environment at Adams City, much like those coaches before him, and hopes to put his own stamp on a program that is looking to build of the successes of the Prieto brothers and Willy Clements last year. Welham is a legitimate title contender.

LEGACY LIGHTNING

Coach: Mike Thompson (16th year).

Last year: Finished 10th at 5A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Devan Cogil (Sr., 106); Derek Coleman (Sr., 220); Ryan Deakin (Sr., 138); Tui Faamausili (Sr., 285); Nolan Funk (Sr., 195); Matt Hebel (Sr., 182).

Others to watch: Trenton Blazon (Sr., 120); Mitch Mueller (Jr., 126); Justin Paplow (Jr., 113).

Outlook: This is a really good team. The Lightning, lead by a motivated Deakin, is deep — especially in the upper weights. The "supporting cast", as Thompson cal them, is eager to prove themselves on one of the area most competitive rosters.

LONGMONT TROJANS

Coach: Matt Engelking (2nd year).

Last year: Finished 25th at 4A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Will Hickman (Sr., 126 at Lyons); Logan Goodner (Sr., 182); Nathan Morris (Jr., 152).

Others to watch: Brandon Ramirez (Jr., 285).

Outlook: The Trojans know a little bit about who they are after the football season. A majority of their lineup is on the gridiron and probably won't be wrestling ready until January. That said, the addition of Hickman to the room is nice and Engelking thinks the four listed above will all represent the Trojans at state.

LYONS LIONS

Coach: Brandon Lohr (1st year).

Last year: Finished 26th at 2A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Kanyon Raper (Sr., 152).

Others to watch: Keagan Bean (So., 171); Aaron Vasquez (Sr., 285).

Outlook: "We are starting with a clean slate," Lohr said. "We are going to start building the program back up. We don't have a lot of experience, but a ton of work ethic." Gone are the Hickman brothers to Longmont and Raper is a question mark after a knee injury during the football season.

MEAD MAVERICKS

Coach: Gilbert Espinoza (7th year).

Last year: Finished 14th at 3A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Jeremy Ashton (So., 120); Jack Gallegos (Sr., 285); Brennan McDermitt (Jr., 160).

Others to watch: Derek Allen (Jr., 220); Jeremiah Cortez (Jr., 126); Joey Garcia (Jr., 170); Caleb Mendez (Jr., 145).

Outlook: "With two returning state place winners in Ashton (5th, 113) and Gallegos (6th, 285) we are looking to add a few more to our trip downtown. We are a blend of experience and youth and are looking for competitive growth over the course of the season," Tatham said.

MONARCH COYOTES

Coach: Ezra Paddock (9th year).

Last year: Finished 30th at 5A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Taylor Dawal (Sr., 132); Caden Feenstra (Sr., 138); Parker McQuade (So., 120); Cole Polluconi (So., 126); Ian Scott (Sr., 285).

Others to watch: Keegan Feenstra (Fr., 160); Nate Pritchard (So., 152); Xander Rens (Fr., 113); Alex Scott (So., 106).

Outlook: The Coyotes have put in the work and Paddock is a firm believer that his team will figure into the mix at the Pepsi Center. We will find out a lot about what the Coyotes are made up right from the get-go, when they host two-time Class 5A champion Arvada West.

NIWOT COUGARS

Coach: Bobby Matthews (1st year).

Last year: Finished 34th at 4A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Tommy Stager (Jr., 126).

Others to watch: Alex Gozdick (So., 120).

Outlook: Matthews comes over from Frederick, where he was in charge for 13 season and inherits a youthful team that will look to build throughout the season and push for more representation at the state tournament. Stager has a chance to become the first Cougars state champ since 1993.

SILVER CREEK RAPTORS

Coach: John Finkbiner (1st year).

Last year: Finished 31st at 4A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Kenny Jones (Sr., 220); Sawyer Novarra (Jr., 106).

Others to watch: Zach Beckwith (So., 120); Tanner Eshelman (Jr., 126); Kanoa Gallegos (Sr., 182).

Outlook: Finkbiner comes in and will try and change the culture with his hands-on approach. he is confident that the Raptors can send anywhere from six to seven wrestlers to the state tournament and make some noise there as well.

SKYLINE FALCONS

Coach: Jacob Terada (2nd year).

Last year: Didn't score at 4A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Uriel Contreras (Jr., 113).

Others to watch: David Finley (Sr.); Brendan Meuse (Jr).

Outlook: The Falcons have to take baby steps before they can walk. It had been a long time since they sent a wrestler to state before Contreras did so last year and Terada believes his team could produce as many as five regional placers.

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