DENVER -- Mead's Jack Gallegos is much lighter on his feet this season and it has paid major dividends throughout his senior campaign.
At last year's state tournament, Gallegos weighed 255 pounds and still managed to place sixth in the 3A 285-pound weight class. Immediately following the tournament, he decided that a move down the weight-class ladder would be a prudent move if he was to reach a higher spot on the podium.
In just over three month, Gallegos lost nearly 50 pounds and at a leaner 205 he entered the 2016 state tournament ranked fifth in the 220-pound weight class by On the Mat. In the first round of the state tournament at the Pepsi Center on Thursday, Gallegos was one step ahead faster than Basalt's senior Olmer Marquez in a 1-0 victory.
"I knew from the beginning that kid was going to be tough because he's one of the best in the state," Gallegos said. "I couldn't wrestle not to lose. I just had to come out and control the match and not let him take it from me. I'm just trying to get to 1-0 in every match. Records don't matter now and I have to go undefeated if I want to be a state champion."
Gallegos scored a second-round escape to get the lead and controlled Marquez (29-8) for the second half of the match. Having secured the all-important first win of the weekend, Gallegos (44-5) advanced to the quarterfinals.
He will face Christian Navarro (8-10) from Manitou Springs. As a team, the Mavericks won two of their three matches on Thursday.
Sophomore 126-pounder Jeremy Ashton, who placed fifth at 133 pounds last season, won a 17-0 major decision over Classical Academy's Matt Johns (27-12).
Mavericks 145-pounder Caleb Mendez (21-12) lost by pinfall in 2 minutes, 55 seconds to Colorado Springs Christian School's Jake Bedford.
"Obviously, we're disappointed that Caleb didn't win because we thought that was a match he could have won," Mavericks head coach Ty Tatham said. "But he'll be back and ready to go tomorrow. Overall, it was a good start for us to get two out of our three guys through."
Class 3A championship quarterfinals will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday. First-round consolation matches will begin immediately following the completion of that round.
Lyons' Keegan Bean learning on the fly
Making his state wrestling tournament debut on Thursday, Lyons sophomore Keegan Bean learned the hard way that unpleasant things can happen when you're not on your game.
In the opening round of the 2A 170-pound bracket, Bean (21-9) lost an 11-6 decision to Cedaredge junior Zach Anderson (31-11).
"Honestly, I think he kind of beat himself in that one," Lyons head coach Brandon Lohr said. "I think all the bright lights and all the people got to him a little bit. He made a mistake early on with a suicide throw and he was done after that. But this is his first time down here and he's going to be ready to go and to use what he's learned when we come back tomorrow."
Bean will face McClave's Teo Dorado (13-26) in the first consolation round on Friday.
Holy Family's Welham not fooling around
After placing fifth in 3A at 152 pounds last season, Holy Family junior Kolsen Welham opened the 2016 state tournament with a bit of flare in his 170-pound debut.
Welham (34-8) won a 15-0 technical fall over La Junta junior Joseph Martinez (30-12) that lasted just 3 minutes, 55 seconds. Welham will wrestle Delta's senior Kory Mills (37-5) in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Erie off to good start
The opening round of last year's state tournament was unkind to the Erie wrestling team, to say the least.
Junior Ernie Quintana and senior Toby Campbell can recall vividly the first-round losses they suffered in 2015 Determined to avoid an early trip to the consolation bracket, both Quintana (138 pounds) and Campbell (145) both won their first matches on Thursday.
"I thought we did really well," Gratton said. "Ernie and Toby had some tough guys and we really wrestled well today. It's a good start and a lot better than last year."
Quintana (34-14) pinned Bayfield's Taylor Winch (17-6) in 2:45 and Campbell (31-9) won a 4-2 decision over Alamosa's Devon Atencio (30-15). Tigers junior 113-pounder Adam Evertz also won his first match of the 2016 state tournament, pinning Lamar's Ethan Andrande in 3:17 to cap a 3-0 first day for the Tigers.
Niwot's Stager starts strong
Niwot junior Tommy Stager placed fourth in 4A at 120 pounds last season. He has much higher expectations this season.
Now wrestling at 132 pounds as a junior, Stager is going for the gold. If he is successful, he will become Niwot's first state champion since 1993. In the first round of the 2016 state tournament, Stager (44-4) started a dominant trend he hopes will continue throughout the rest of his matches this weekend. Stager's first state tournament match ended in a 15-1 major decision against Vista Ridge's Johnny Lopez (29-20).
"That's a pretty solid start," Stager said. "Any time you beat a kid by 14 points is good. I'm just going out there and wrestling my best, and letting the chips fall where they fall."
Stager's teammate Alex Gadzick (15-17) was pinned in 3:38 by Cheyenne Mountain 126-pounder Mike McFadden (38-6).
Legacy's Deakin on a mission
It's no secret that Legacy's Ryan Deakin is still a little sore after coming one match short of a state title last year.
In the first round of his senior state tournament on Thursday, the Lightning 138-pounder vented a little bit of that lingering frustration by pinning Monarch's Taylor Dawal in 1:38.
"It's good to get those nerves out of the way in that first match," Legacy head coach Mike Thompson said. "He's definitely on a mission and he's focused. He knows what he has to do this year and his plan is to wrestle all the way through all three days."
At press time, five of Legacy's six state qualifiers who had wrestled won their first-round matches. Lightning 285-pounder Tui Fa'amausili had not yet wrestled his first-round match.
Broomfield gets off to rough start
It wasn't exactly how Broomfield coach Pat DeCamillis and his staff drew up Day 1 of the Class 5A state tournament.
Promising 106-pound freshman Presley Madril fell behind early and never rallied against Aurora Central's Axel Pacheco, losing 13-5.
Brandon Tyson, coming off a regional title last weekend at Legacy, was stunned by Northglenn's Gage Loveall 5-4. The Match was all square heading to the third period, bu Loveall was able to escape with 30 seconds to go and then held off all of Tyson's shots.
Connor Ventura, one of the favorties at 170 pounds, cruised to a 12-2 major decision over Mountain Range's Alex Morales.
Zack Walker (195 pounds) was beat 16-4 by Fruita's Jared Seely.
Both Noah Dohm and Mason Watt had not finished their matches at press time.
Fairview duo go down to pins
Both Fairview representatives, Dimitri Brown (160) and Caleb Bergeson (170) were pinned in the opening round matches.
Brown to Castle View's Tate Samuelson and Bergeson to Cherokee Trail's Seth Bogulski.