LAFAYETTE — There were those that thought the Legacy wrestling program was going to fall off the face of the map this season.
The Lightning, after back-to-back top 10 state finishes on the strength of a brilliant senior class led by two-time state champion Ryan Deakin, and coach Mike Thompson have built a fantastic foundation and any sort of drop-off's aren't that far.
"People did, they wrote us off," Thompson said. "I told our guys, we are not rebuilding, we are remodeling.
"We have the same work ethic and the same philosophy we did last year. We just have new furniture and if we keep doing the same stuff, we will be back in the same position"
It's taken some time this year, but on Friday and Saturday at the 19th Annual Top of the Rockies tournament held at Centaurus High School, the Lightning placed three in arguably the states toughest gatherings and in the process gained momentum going into the final three weeks of the season.
"I know we have a young group, but we have a lot of kids out and we've got some good leadership," said Thompson, whose family just welcomed a baby girl, Hazel, three weeks ago. "They are showing these young guys what they need to do and they are feeding off of that."
Although they didn't get any through to the finals — in fact, not a single BoCo area wrestler did — Legacy made some hay heading into the final three most critical weeks of the season.
Aaron Otterson, Aidan Funk and Drian Hays all made it to the third-place matches. Both Funk and Hays scored victories over opponents that had previously beaten them this season.
In the 160 pound match, Funk faced No. 2 ranked Jeremiah Ellerd of Brighton, who had beaten him the previous week. Funk learned his lesson against the unorthodox Ellerd and wrestled a smart match that earned him a 6-4 win in overtime.
"I got a taste of that last week at a different tournament," said Funk, whose older brother Nolan is currently red-shirting at South Dakota State. "Coming into this one, I knew what I wanted to do and just wrestled my style and didn't let him do any of his funky stuff."
Hays was eliminated in the 170 pound main draw's quarterfinals by Pueblo South's Elias Manzanares and they met again in the third place match. Hays exacted revenge with a pinfall victory at 4:53 in the third period.
"It was a great tournament for Drian," Thompson said. "For him to come back and beat that kid was a big step forward for him."
Monarch placed four total, highlighted by third-place finishes from Cole Polluconi at 132 pounds and by Xander Rens at 145's over Otterson.
"I really felt that me and Grant (Willits of Pueblo County) should have been in the finals, which would have been fun in front of this big crowd," said Polluconi, who lost 5-2 to Willits in the semifinals. "Tough draw though and this is the best tournament we are going to see in Colorado."
Erie's Ernie Quintana wrestled real well and finished third, beating Rio Rancho New Mexico's Zak Vigil 4-3 in his 138 pound consolation final.
Same for Broomfield's Preston Renner at 152 pounds. He took out Pomona's Xavier Hernandez 7-4.
"It feel good, especially after last year when I just went 1-2 at this tournament," said Renner, whose team will be gearing up for the Front Range League tournament next Friday and Saturday in Fort Collins at Fossil Ridge. "These next three weeks are everything and I needed a big win to boost me up."
Pomona won the team title with 207.5 points and Brighton finished runner-up with 175.5.
19TH ANNUAL TOP OF THE ROCKIES
Team scores — Pomona 207.5, Brighton 175.5, Pueblo County169, Pueblo East 152.5, Poudre125.5, Grandview 118.5, Rio Rancho (N.M.)114, Scottsbluff (Neb.) 104.5, Alamosa 94.5, Ponderosa 93.5, Monarch 93, Cheyenne East (Wyo.) 79, Legacy 71.5, Fort Lupton 69, Arvada West 68.5, Thompson Valley 63, Mountain Vista 61, Erie 60, Rocky Mountain 57, Pueblo South 54.5, Broomfield 46, Fort Morgan 44, Brush 42.5, Omaha North (Neb.) 42, Grand Island (Neb.) 38, Cheyenne Central (Wyo.) 35.5, Mead 28.5, Cherry Creek 26, Holy Family 18, Mountain Range 13, Centaurus 10.
106 — Brendon Garcia, Pueblo County dec. Jacob Durran, Fort Lupton, 8-4.
113 — Jace Trujillo, Pueblo East pinned Isaiah DeLaCerda, Alamosa, :52.
120 — Colton Yapoujian, Pomona won by forfeit over Fabian Santillan, Grandview
126 — Jody Sandoval, Fort Lupton dec. DaeKwon Seavers, Omaha North, 8-2.
132 — Grant Willits, Pueblo County major dec. Aaden Valdez, Pueblo East, 12-2.
138 — Jacob Greenwood, Poudre pinned Zack Kuta, Grand Island (Neb.), 1:14.
145 — Parker Benekas, Ponderosa dec. Hunter Williams, Thompson Valley, 6-0.
152 — Hunter Willits, Pueblo County dec. Ryan Rochford, Rio Rancho (N.M.), 7-0.
160 — Jason Romero, Pomona dec. Seth Green, Cheyenne East, 7-5.
170 — Nolan Krone, Pomona major dec. Andrew Nicholson, Cheyenne Central, 8-0.
182 — Salem Harsh, Scottsbluff (Neb.) pinned Jayden Woodruff, Ponderosa, 2:43.
195 — Trent Schultz, Mountain Vista tech fall Dominic Robles, Pueblo East, 18-2 (4:57).
220 — Cohlton Schultz, Ponderosa pinned Ian Helwick, Brighton, 1:55.
285 — Brandon Micale, Pomona dec. Tanner Aitken, Brighton, 6-4 (OT).
132 — Cole Polluconi, Monarch dec. Dayton Marvel, Pomona, 1-0.
138 — Ernie Quintana, Erie dec. Zak Vigil, Rio Rancho (N.M.), 4-3.
145 — Xander Rens, Monarch dec. Aaron Otterson, Legacy, 10-6.
152 — Preston Renner, Broomfield dec. Xavier Herrera, Pomona, 7-4.
160 — Aidan Funk, Legacy dec. Jeremiah Ellerd, Brighton, 6-4 (OT).
170 — Drian Hays, Legacy pinned Elias Manzanares, Pueblo South, 4:53.
138 — Parker McQuade, Monarch dec. Devin Atencio, Alamosa, 5-2.
182 — Tyler Ross, Grandview pinned Keegan Feenstra, Monarch, 2:30.