DENVER — When Mead's Emilio Chavez was taken down by Pueblo East's Noah Rivera in the first period of their wrestling match at 152 pounds on Thursday night, it served as a wake-up call that Chavez was indeed back at the state tournament.
The message was received and answered by the junior.
Chavez got to neutral position and then took the back of Rivera late in the first period to lead 3-2. With Rivera choosing to start from bottom in the second period, Chavez was able to stay on top. When the opening came, he quickly rolled his opponent over and finished the match with the pin at the midway point of the match.
Plenty of support came from the Pepsi Center stands, as well as from his coaches after the win to start the Class 4A state tournament.
But for Chavez and many others at the state tournament, they are a select few to represent their school. Mead was one of seven teams from the area to send one or two wrestlers to the event.
"There's always pressure here, but having RJ (Lopez) here, I think we both have set high goals and I think we can accomplish them," Chavez said. "We just have to relax and be ready to wrestle."
Competing with a full team last week at regionals, Chavez said he and Lopez have adjusted to being the only ones in Denver for the week.
"It's a lot different and a lot quieter," Chavez said. "It is fun with just the two of us. RJ is a pretty good friend of mine, so I'm excited he is here."
Niwot, Fairview, Boulder and Holy Family joined Mead in having two wrestlers to the state tournament. Centaurus and Frederick had one representative apiece, signaling just how difficult it really is to make the brackets.
Cole Hoffman wrestled at 132 for Frederick and had a 6-4 lead early in the third period, but he lost his position and was reversed into a pin by Jason Pollard of Grand Junction Central. Nathan Uribes represented Centaurus at 195 pounds in Class 5A and lost in sudden victory 12-10.
The six schools with one or two wrestlers in the state tournament for Classes 4A and 5A combined for a 4-6 record Thursday night.
Monarch stays focused on individual tasks
The Monarch Coyotes sent nine wrestlers to the state tournament, the most for any local team this week.
Things got started off on the right foot with freshman Dillon Roman winning at 106 by fall in the third period over Ricky Beall of Horizon. Vince Cornella, a defending state champion, made quick work of Marshal Scott of Fossil Ridge for a first-period win at 113. At 120s, Ryan Kuykendall made it three wins in a row to start the day with his win by fall in the third period over Legacy's Keegan Hoffman in the lone head-to-head match between area schools.
With a promising start, Monarch was hanging in the top five of the team standings through the midway point. They would finish the night sitting ninth with 14 points.
The focus for now, however, is on each individual to win and make a run in their weight bracket and not focusing on competing as a darkhorse contender for the team title.
"It hasn't really been a priority, but it's definitely been on our minds," Kuykendall said. "It definitely motivates us all to keep moving. Knowing that we're in contention for that keeps us all going."
Pomona has been the top team in Class 5A over the last couple of years and leads the group after day one with 30 points.
Heavyweights in action
The weight class with the most wrestlers for local teams came at 285. Only one wrestled in the 2A/3A first round, but five were in action to finish the night in 4A and 5A.
The quickest win of the night came from Broomfield's Tyler Carpenter, who only needed six seconds to pin Colten Brueggeman of Montrose. Mead's Lopez joined his teammate Chavez in getting a win with a 6-0 decision over Jeremiah Vasquez of Battle Mountain. Skyline's Ricky Childers scored two points late in his match with Isreal Lima of Grand Juntion Central to win a 3-1 decision. Moving to the consolation bracket Niwot's Jovani Lopez, after his loss to Thomas Garnica of Thomas Jefferson by fall in the first period.
The toughest draw went to Legacy's Aron Baugh. The senior drew Cohlton Schultz of Ponderosa, who came in looking for a fourth state title and is considered one of the top high school wrestlers to compete in the state. Baugh would lose by pin in the first minute to the undefeated Schultz.
Longmont, Broomfield close together in 4A team scores
The Broomfield Eagles sent seven wrestlers to the state tournament and the Longmont Trojans had six come to the Pepsi Center. After day one, the Eagles hold a six-point lead over the Trojans, 21-15.
Six of the seven wrestlers for the Eagles were able to win on Thursday. Reaching the quarterfinals were Presley Madril, John Beau Hostler, Darren Green, Antonio Welch-Soto, Bryant Walker and Carpenter.
Five of the six for Longmont won. Advancing to the quarterfinals include Logan Novara, John Nicholas, Gio Wilson, Brayden Engelking and Drake Engelking.