LOVELAND — Tommy Stager's name is about to be forever etched into the Colorado wrestling record books.
After Thursday night's 10-5 decision over No.2-ranked Erik Contreras of Mountain View at 145 pounds, the top-ranked Cougars senior now stands just two wins away from tying the all-time wins record in the state of 170 by Bennett's Josh Miller.
Sure that is all well and good, but Stager — who will likely eclipse the record next Saturday in their regional tournament at Frederick — would likely trade every single one of those wins, just to be remembered in a different way ... a state champion.
One night after going up a weight class and beating Class 3A No. 1 Jimmy Laconte of Weld Central at 152 pounds, Stager again got geared up for Contreras — who handed him one of his few defeats this season at a tournament in Cheyenne.
"I was really excited about the match, and it feels like most of the matches I have wrestled the second half of the season have been the caliber that I want heading into a tough regional tournament," said Stager, who was 1-1 against Contreras this season.
With the top seed in next week's regional on the line, Stager — who was clearly the aggressor on Thursday night — broke a 3-3 tie in the second period with two quality takedowns to give himself a comfortable lead.
"I was definitely picky about the risks I took and recognizing the openings," he said. "But what I thought worked really well was controlling my position, keeping my feet moving, my head spot mentally and letting him open up and taking advantage of his mistakes."
If all goes according to plan next week in Frederick, Stager and Contreras will meet again and when the state brackets appear, they should be on the opposite sides as well.
"I know Erik and he is friend of mine. I want him to be successful," Stager said. "I'd really like to see him get second at state."
Stager was one of just two victories on the night for the youthful Cougars. Alex Gazdik opened the night at 138 pounds with an impressive victory over Nikko Jimenez, scoring a pinfall victory at 2 minutes and 43 seconds.
It was a confidence boost that came at the right time for Gazdik, who missed a couple of weeks with some nagging tendonitis in his shoulder.
"It's been a little rough and this was only my second match in the last two or three weeks," Gazdik said. "i feel pretty confident and I hear that my bracket is going to be pretty tough, but all I can do is go out there and give it my best."
MOUNTAIN VIEW 61, NIWOT 9
At Mountain View
106 — Malachi Contreras, Mountain View pinned Max Pechezewski, :20; 113 — Kaley Barker, Mountain View pinned Colton Gruszynski, :34; 120 — Uncontested; 126 — Colton Hall, Mountain View major dec. Luis Sosa, 9-0; 132 — Alex Gazdik, Niwot pinned Nikko Jimenez, 2:43; 138 — Tyler Harshman, Mountain View dec. Brandon Barton, 4-0; 145 — Tommy Stager, Niwot dec. Erik Contreras, 10-5; 152 — Jackson Gilbert, Mountain View pinned David Koon, :13; 160 — Kory Koss, Mountain View pinned Keith Hemmenway, 2:32; 170 — Miguel Sandoval, Mountain View won by forfeit; 182 — Semaj Spencer, Mountain View pinned Omar Arriaga, :33; 195 — Braden Barker, Mountain View pinned Nathan Hemmenway, 1:02; 220 — Martin Rodriguez, Mountain View pinned Jovani Lopez, 1:34; 285 — Josh Boles, Mountain View pinned Jose Lopez, 3:02.