NIWOT — Since he was young, Nick Stager has idolized Niwot wrestlers and watched them compete at Niwot High School.
Even in middle school Stager competed his hardest inside the gym at Niwot High. Back in the Niwot High gym for the Boulder Valley Invitational on Saturday, there was no place other than the state championships he wanted to be at his best.
His best earned Stager the most outstanding wrestler award for the tournament.
“I always wanna win here at home,” Stager said. “I feel like my school doesn’t get as much credit as it should. This year is the first time we’ve won a dual in a while and overall wrestling hasn’t been the school’s strong suit.
“It’s just cool to be able to go out and represent Niwot. I’m one of those people that still loves their school.”
In the 138-pound championship match, Stager won a 14-4 major decision over Golden’s Paris Salas. Since finishing third his freshman year, Stager has now won three straight Boulder Valley Invite titles.
Stager dodged an early headlock attempt from Salas and got a single leg takedown off it. After that, Stager scored repeatedly on takedowns.
The Niwot senior couldn’t turn his opponent on the ground so he kept cutting Salas loose and recapturing him for takedown points. The win bumped his record up to 17-2 and helped the Cougars (96 points) finish sixth in the team scoring.
The Longmont Trojans finished fifth and were led by a dominant performance by sophomore 126-pounder Ivan Wolf. In his second Boulder Valley Invite, Wolf won by major decisions in his first two matches and a pin in his third before beating Monarch’s Justin Butler 7-1 in the championship match.
“Coming into it I realized this is the turning point in the season and you get to see what you can do,” said Wolf, who wrestled 132s the first half of the season. “I feel a lot better, stronger and faster at 126s. I had that extra little push and I felt I could just step up and really do a lot better.”
Wolf wasn’t the only youngster to turn some heads Saturday.
Frederick freshman Jesse Ortiz won an 11-0 major decision over Skyline’s Braden Richards for the 106-pound title. It was the first time since 1995 that a Warriors freshman won his weight class at the BVI, and just the second time ever.
“It means a lot to me,” Ortiz said. “After the match I found out I was only the second one to take it as a freshman, so I was pretty excited about that.”
The Erie Tigers who finished 10th behind an individual title from senior Clay Bunker, who has been on a mission since finishing fifth at state last year.
“It’s made me work that much harder,” Clay Bunker said. “If you work in the winter and work in the summer, it makes you tenfold better. This season, I’m more confident with everything that I do.”
Sophomore Ladd Bunker, Clay’s younger brother, took second at 145 pounds. But, his most important match may have been his first, a 9-7 decision over Longmont’s Drake Greeott.
“The Longmont kid is my big competition for regionals,” Ladd Bunker said. “That kind of settled me in because now that I beat him once, I’m not going to lose to him again. I’m gonna beat him up at regionals.”
In the upper weights, Longmont’s Forrest Wetterstrom (170s) and Frederick’s Jaron Balman (195) each placed second on the podium.
Erie’s Brandon Westch placed third at 120 pounds, winning a 5-2 decision of Niwot’s Colin Frank. Niwot’s Joey Lambert, Longmont’s Lane Olsen, Silver Creek’s Codi Sadler, Frederick’s Jake Vargas and Silver Creek’s Nate Dunlavy each finished third in his weight class.
Brad Cochi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boulder Valley Invitational
At Niwot HS
Team scores — Golden 188, Boulder 185, Monarch 161.5, Holy Family 152.5, Longmont 122, Niwot 96, Estes Park 93.5, Platte Valley 91.5, Frederick 87, Erie 80, Silver Creek 66, Fairview 64.5, Skyline 53, Lyons.
106 — Jesse Ortiz, Frederick, maj. dec. Braden Richards, Skyline, 11-0.
113 — Julian Prieto, Holy Family, dec. Will Casey, Estes Park, 8-5.
120 — Christian Valentine, Monarch, dec. Joseph Prieto, Holy Family, 7-1.
126 — Ivan Wolf, Longmont, dec. Justin Butler, Monarch, 7-1.
132 — Connor Murtha, Boulder, pinned Daniel Carvalho, Holy Family, 1:14.
138 — Nick Stager, Niwot, maj. dec. Paris Salas, Golden, 14-4.
145 — Devin Rothrock, Golden, maj. dec. Ladd Bunker, Erie, 18-8.
152 — Clay Bunker, Erie, tech. fall Jaboba Jimenez, Boulder, 18-2.
160 — Ian Cheatum, Golden, dec. Devon Underhill, Monarch, 15-9.
170 — Nate Dewitt, Estes Park, pinned Forrest Wetterstrom, Longmont, 2:36.
182 — Axel Wessel, Boulder, pinned Kevin Lohndorf, Fairview, 0:38.
195 — Michael Hattel, Monarch, pinned Jaron Balman, Frederick, 1:16.
220 — Jack Sober, Boulder, pinned Daniel Jansen, Holy Family, 2:21.
Hvwt — Dakota Gulley, Golden, pinned Raul Rios, Platte Valley, 3:52.
106 — Vince Casados, Holy Family, dec. Babalu Jones, Boulder, 1-0.
113 — DJ Wolken, Golden, won by forfeit.
120 — Brandon Wetsch, Erie, dec. Colin Frank, Niwot, 5-2.
126 — Joey Pendleton, Holy Family, won by forfeit.
132 — Joey Lambert, Niwot, pinned Anthony Zaba, Golden, 3:57.
138 — Lane Olsen, Longmont, dec. Sal Castango, Estes Park, 8-6.
145 — Scott Podloger, Monarch, won by forfeit.
152 — Joe Tucker, Monarch, won by forfeit.
160 — Codi Sadler, Silver Creek, won by forfeit.
170 — Gus Sawicki, Monarch, pinned Kyle Spengler, Holy Family, 2:34.
182 — Jake Vargas, Frederick, pinned Cris Chacon, Longmont, 3:42.
195 — Nate Dunlavy, Silver Creek, pinned Ryan Chopyak, Holy Family, 1:57.
220 — Noah Lennox, Golden, maj. dec. Jesus Aguayo, Platte Valley, 12-0.
Hvwt — Hans Lehndorff, Boulder, pinned Connor McGraw, Fairview, 4:42.