NIWOT — The final few weeks of the season aren't likely to have many surprises in store for state title hopeful Sawyer Novara, just a whole bunch of guys who have already won a state championship trying to keep him from claiming one of his own.
The way he has mapped it out in his head, winning regionals should set Novara up with a great shot to reach the semifinals. But just to win regionals, the Silver Creek senior will probably have to beat last year's 106-pound champion Will Vombaur, who defeated Novara in last year's state quarterfinals.
Assuming Novara reaches the state semifinals in his Class 4A 120-pound bracket in February, he figures he'll have to face a state champ on either side of the bracket in the form of Pueblo East's 2016 113-pound champion Jace Trujillo or Pueblo County's Josiah Nava, who won the 106-pound title in 2015. If he clears that hurdle, it' quite likely Novara would face the other in the finals.
Facing the legitimate possibility of having to go through three state champions, Novara's road to a state title is fraught with top-class opposition. But at least it's clearly defined.
"I have a good idea of what I'm up against but it's doable," Novara said. "I know what I need to do and I know what I'll need to work on to make it happen. Every match right now is just about preparing me for regionals and working in the things that will be necessities when the matches are all close at the end."
With regional tournament three weeks away, Tim Yount's On the Mat Week 6 rankings list Novara fourth in his weight class behind the three previously-mentioned wrestlers. He added another win to his record during the Raptors' 58-18 dual loss to Niwot on Friday. While Sawyer rolled, the Raptors fell to yet another area rival a night after falling 51-24 to a much-improved Frederick team.
"We're making progress," Raptors head coach John Finkbiner said. "A lot of our guys are first- and second-year guys and we're making some simple mistakes. We don't have a lot of varsity experience but they're coming out and they're battling."
The host Cougars were inspired on alumni night, picking up several surprise wins in front of more than a dozen former Cougars wrestlers including Garin Daum, the program's last state champion. Top-ranked 145-pounder Tommy Stager won by pinfall and 126-pounder Luis Sosa won the match of the night, breaking a 7-7 tie by pinning his opponent late in the third period.
"I wish the alumni guys could come every night," Niwot head coach Bobby Matthews said. "We had a lot of fire tonight and it really showed in some of our younger guys."
Niwot 58, Silver Creek 18
At Niwot H.S.
106 — Connor Carlson, Niwot, won by forfeit; 113 — Sawyer Novara, Silver Creek, pinned Max Pecherzewski, 1:03; 120 — Open; 126 — Luis Sosa, Niwot, pinned Keldan Stutzman, 5:37; 132 — Mady Vaughan, Niwot, won by forfeit; 138 — David Koon, Niwot, won by forfeit; 145 — Brandon Barton, Niwot, won by forfeit; 152 — Tommy Stager, Niwot, pinned Tanner Eshleman, 3:36; 160 — Keith Hemenway, Niwot, won by forfeit; 170 — Shawn Smith, Silver Creek, won by forfeit; 182 — Tyler Young, Silver Creek, pinned Omar Arriaga, 4:26; 195 — Nathan Hemenway, Niwot, pinned Max Ruiz, 3:03; 220 — Daniel Torres, Niwot, pinned Connor Monroe, 1:30. 285 — Jose Lopez, Niwot, won by forfeit.