NIWOT — While an outsider stole the show, a hometown wrestler basked in individual glory.
Golden pulled off a shocker Saturday night in the Boulder Valley Invitational at Niwot High School, winning the team title despite being the only team invited to the meet that is not associated with Boulder County sports.
Nick Stager of meet-host Niwot preserved some local flavor by winning his third consecutive BVI title with a major-decision win against Paris Salas of Golden.
Boulder finished second, only three points behind Golden’s 188. Monarch, which handily won the BVI last season, finished third with 161.5.
“I’m not super surprised because we wrestled Golden on Thursday and they gave us a pretty good duel,” said Monarch’s Michael Hattel, who won the 195-pound title. “Congrats to them. They really wanted to win this and they had a lot of stud kids come up big in key weight classes.”
The meet was tight throughout, as nine different schools had a championship winner. Only three had multiple winners (Golden and Boulder with three apiece; Monarch with two).
While Boulder’s Babalu Jones was unable to repeat as a champion at 106, finishing fourth, Stager was able to clamp down title No. 3 with a harder-than-it-looked 14-4 win against Salas.
“I couldn’t really turn him,” Stager said. “I wasn’t scoring any points so (coach Scott) Sanchez told me to cut him and get some takedowns. That’s what I did.”
Boulder was in title contention until the final moments thanks to wins by Connor Murtha (132), Alex Wessel (182) and Jack Sober (220), all on pins.
“I had finished second here two years in a row, so it was nice to finally break through,” said Murtha, who recorded a first-round pin against Holy Family’s Daniel Carvalho. “I didn’t know much about him, but I saw that his school was in a bunch of the championship and third-place matches, so I knew his school was pretty tough.”
Indeed, 3A Holy Family represented well with a fourth-place finish of 152. Julian Prieto won the title at 113 and brother Joseph finished second at 120.
That loss came at the hands of Monarch’s Christian Valentine, who joined Hattel atop the podium. Valentine, who won 7-1, also finished second last season at the BVI and fifth at the state meet.
“I’ve been pretty proud of how this season has gone so far,” Valentine said. “In this one, it was mostly about being smart and just being in good position.”
One of the most impressive individual performances was turned in by Clay Bunker of Erie, who ransacked his way to an 18-2 technical-fall win against Boulder’s Jaboba Jimenez in the 152 final.
Bunker has placed at state the past two seasons and has focused exclusively on becoming a state champion this season.
“Every single match, every practice is a step towards the big show,” he said. “Placing at state, it’s definitely pushed me to work more in the offseason.”
Of note, Longmont finished fifth with 122. The Trojans were buoyed by Ivan Wolf’s 7-1 win against Monarch’s Justin Butler in the 126 final.
Golden crashed the party by getting first-place finishes from Devin Rothrock (145), Ian Cheatum (160) and Dakota Gulley, who won the heavyweight crown.
Boulder Valley Invitational
At Niwot High School
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 2.
106 — Jesse Ortiz (Frederick) major 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) pin Daniel Carvalho (Holy Family), 1:14.
138 — Nick Stager (Niwot) major dec. Paris Salas (Golden), 14-4.
145 — Devin Rothrock (Golden) major 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) pin Forrest Wetterstrom (Longmont), 2:36.
182 — Axel Wessel (Boulder) pin Kevin Lohndorf (Fairview), :38.
195 — Michael Hattel (Monarch) pin Jaron Balman (Frederick), 1:16.
220 — Jack Sober (Boulder) pin Daniel Jansen (Holy Family), 2:21.
285 — Dakota Gulley (Golden) pin 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) pin 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) pin Kyle Spengler (Holy Family), 2:34.
182 — Jake Vargas (Frederick) pin Cris Chacon (Longmont), 3:42.
195 — Nate Dunlavy (Silver Creek) pin Ryan Chopyak (Holy Family), 1:57.
220 — Noah Lennox (Golden) major dec. Jesus Aguayo (Platte Valley), 12-0.
285 — Hans Lehndorff (Boulder) pin Connor McGraw (Fairview), 4:42.