NIWOT — Like most coaches, Erie's Steve Gratton doesn't shy away from getting his kids the best competition around the state and even the country.
The Tigers have traveled south to Florence and left the state for big tournaments in Phoenix and Cheyenne and fared well. It's all part of his master plan to have his team clicking on all cylinders heading into next months regional and state tournaments.
"We still have a full schedule to work on and we've just got to keep improving," said Gratton, whose team took care of Niwot 58-13 on Wednesday night. "There's little things that we have to continue to work on everyday and keep reminding them about these little moves. There are a lot of guys that have never wrestled on our team."
The Tigers are a perfect blend of experience and up-and-coming with three of their best currently ranked by On the Mat in Class 3A.
One of those is 138-pound junior Ernie Quintana. Currently No. 5, Quintana looked good on Wednesday night against the Cougars' Dylan Bonge.
He was up 4-0 early after a take-down and two near-fall points. It was soon after that he stuck his opponent and won by pinfall at 1 minute, 52 seconds of the first period.
Only two of Gratton's three ranked wrestlers were in action, the other was Adrian Rincon at 126-pounds. Ranked No. 13, Rincon went the full six minutes with Alex Gazdik and recorded five take-downs en route to a 13-5 major decision.
"It's all coming around, we just have to have it gel at the right time," said Gratton, who has just one senior on his 14-man varsity roster. "We are in a tough region with Valley, Brush and Eaton."
Other notable wins for the Tigers included Sean-Tyler Currell (120), Trevor David (160) and Riley Melton (195). Trevor Harris, a regular at 106-pound for Gratton's junior varsity team, was called to duty for a 113-pound varsity match and scored a 6-3 victory over Matthew Toles to end the night.
"It was a good win for him," said Gratton, whose team will be at Holy Family on Thursday night and then at the Abraham Lincoln tournament on Saturday.
Niwot's Tommy Stager was impressive in his 17-2 technical fall victory over Christian Vanlandingham. Currently ranked No. 2 by On the Mat, the Cougars junior was only up 2-0 after a period but poured it on in the second and third.
"The thing about him is that he has to understand that a lot of these kids that he wrestles, their No. 1 goals is to not get pinned," said Niwot coach Bobby Matthews, who will learn a little more about his prized pupil this weekend at Thornton — where he will see seven different ranked wrestlers in his weight class. "He gets frustrated when he can't pin them, but he also need to understand a tech fall also mean you pretty much owned the kid.
"He's right where we need him to be. He's working hard and his weight is good and he is getting stronger."
The Cougars scored two other wins. Prinal Lal got a late take-down in his 145-pound match against Witt Unruh to win 7-6 and Aaron Nicoll won by a third period pin over Quintin Hyrup at 152 pounds.
Erie 58, Niwot 13
106 — Michael Ferrera, Erie won by forfeit; 113 — Trevor Harris, Erie dec. Matthew Toles, 6-3; 120 — Sean-Tyler Currell, Erie pinned Lucas Smith, 1:34; 126 — Adrian Rincon, Erie major dec. Alex Gazdik, 13-5; 132 — Tommy Stager, Niwot tech. fall Christian Vanlandingham, 17-2; 138 — Ernie Quintana, Erie pinned Dylan Bonge, 1:52; 145 — Pranil Lal, Niwot dec. Witt Unruh, 7-6; 152 — Aaron Nicoll, Niwot pinned Quintin Hyrup, 4:25; 160 — Trevor David, Erie pinned Nathan Hemenway, 1:03; 170 — Zachary Roper, Erie won by forfeit; 182 — Ruben Portillo, Erie won by forfeit; 195 — Riley Melton, Erie dec. Saul Escarega, 5-2; 220 — Gavin Sackett, Erie won by forfeit. 285 — Eugene Zak, Erie won by forfeit.