LAFAYETTE — Over the years, the Top of the Rockies wrestling tournament at Centaurus High School has brought out some of the top wrestlers and teams from the state, along with high-quality competition from neighboring states as well.
The timing of the tournament, approximately one month from the state wrestling tournament at Pepsi Center in Denver, gives it a feel similar to that. Wrestlers that go on and place at Top of the Rockies typically find their way to the medal podium in Denver come February.
"Last year, my freshman year, I felt this tournament kicked me off to my final run and made me feel good at the end of the year," Monarch's Vince Cornella said. "It's doing the same for me this year."
Cornella was the bright spot on a strong showing for Monarch with his run to the title at 113 pounds on Saturday. Two takedowns by snapping his opponent to the mat in the first period gave him a 4-1 edge over Elijah De La Cerda of Alamosa in the semifinals and served as a theme for what he wants to do to have success in matches.
"I'm always most comfortable on my feet," Cornella said. "Snaps is what I rely on. A big part of it this year is trying to improve top and bottom so I don't always have to win on my feet, but I'm confident on my feet."
A takedown in the first period and another in the third after escaping from bottom against Paul Garcia of Scottsbluff, Neb., in the finals gave Cornella a 5-0 decision for the TOR title.
MoHi's Dillon Roman and Nathan Fitzpatrick joined Cornella in reaching the semifinals but were bounced by fall to the consolation bracket. Both would bounce back with Roman finishing fourth at 106 and Fitzpatrick taking sixth at 160. Keegan Feenstra overcame an early loss Friday and battled back to finish fifth at 182.
Another team sending three wrestlers to the semifinals Saturday was the Broomfield Eagles. Darren Green was the top performer, winning two close matches on Saturday to reach the finals, starting with an escape from bottom position against Zander Condit of Jefferson to win 1-0. In the semifinals versus Aaden Valdez of Pueblo East, he scored two takedowns in the final minute to get the 7-4 decision win.
"I just have to stay smart in my matches and keep my composure," Green said. "I can't let the emotions get to me. I feel happy (placing here)."
In the finals, Green faced Fabian Santillan of Grandview. Green lifted Santillan and brought him down to the mat in sudden victory but did not land on top of his opponent to score two points. Instead, Santillan slid on top of Green after the takedown attempt to score the decisive takedown. Despite a long argument to the officials from the Broomfield coaches, the call stood, giving Green second place.
With a couple years of placing at state to his name already, Green is focused on making a run towards the state title this year. His run to the championship match at Top of the Rockies is one he hopes can springboard him down the final stretch.
"Everything right now is feeling good," Green said. "I just need to come with the same mentality and be a competitor."
Antonio Welch-Soto and Presley Madril both joined Greed in the semifinals for Broomfield but were bounced to the consolation bracket. Both would end up finishing fifth in their respective weight classes. Another wrestler who battled back to the fifth-place match at 285 was Tyler Carpenter, overcoming a loss Friday to finish strong in the consolation bracket.
Legacy had plenty to feel good about, as well, with a semifinalist and three total wrestlers placing. Aron Baugh led the team by reaching the semifinals at 285 before losing by fall to Logan Thompson of Alamosa — he eventually placed sixth.
LHS' Joey Joiner and Grady Funk each lost before the semifinal round but found their way to the fifth-place match, with Funk winning a 4-1 decision to finish fifth at 160 and Joiner finishing sixth at 145.
As of press time, there were still championship matches taking the mats. However, the local contingent had completed their runs.
With the Top of the Rockies tournament complete, it's full steam ahead for all schools competing as they make a final push to qualify for state in February.
"There's still work to be done," Green said.
Top of the Rockies
At Centaurus High School
106 — Elijah Olguin, Pomona, decision, Erie Griego, Pueblo County, 7-5.
113 — Vince Cornella, Monarch, decision Paul Garcia, Scottsbluff, Neb., 5-0.
120 — Daniel Cardenas, Pomona, technical fall, Brendon Garcia, Pueblo County, 17-2 4:51.
126 — Ryan Roth, Pueblo East, decision, Wyatt Yapoujian, Pomona, 7-4.
132 — Mosha Schwartz, Ponderosa, decision, Justin Pacheco, Pomona, 6-2.
138 — Fabian Santillan, Grandview, sudden victory decision, Darren Green, Broomfield, 3-1.
145 — Jaxon Gauroutte, Pueblo County, decision, Devontae Gutierrez, Scottsbluff, Neb., 5-2.
152 — Nick Gallegos, Jefferson, decision, Josh Kraus, Kelly Walsh, Wyo., 2-1.
160 — Christopher Fasano, Pueblo County, majority decision, Diego Duarte, Pueblo East, 13-4.
170 — Kai Blake, Cherry Creek, pinned, Payton Polson, Valor Christian, 5:48
Local third-place matches
106 — Kenny Sailas, Brighton, decision, Dillon Roman, Monarch, 5-0.
Local fifth-place matches
120 — Presley Madril, Broomfield, decision, Devyn Mostellar, Kelly Walsh, Wyo., 16-10.
145 — Joey Joiner, Legacy, majority decision, Hunter Smith, Alamosa, 11-1.
160 — Grady Funk, Legacy, decision, Nathan Fitzpatrick, Monarch, 4-1.
170 — Antonio Welch-Soto, Broomfield, forfeit, Tanner Hickey, Central-Grand Junction.
182 — Keegan Feenstra, Monarch, sudden victory decision, Oscar Richter, Grandview, 6-4.
285 — Tyler Carpenter, Broomfield, forfeit, Aron Baugh, Legacy.
* — Tournament was not complete as of press time.