• DAVID R JENNINGS

    Holy Family's Joseph Prieto (right) hopes to take the next step after producing a runner-up finish at state last year.

  • Greg Lindstrom

    Niwot's Clay Robinson (in green) will be the focal point for what is expected to be a tough Cougars squad in 2013-14.

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WRESTLERS TO KNOW

Ladd Bunker, Erie: The Tigers senior looks to make a run at a state title after he reached the 4A state quarterfinals at 160 pounds last year and was named to the BoCoPreps.com all-region team as an honorable mention.

Kyle Couch, Mead: The Mavericks’ most decorated wrestler as a three-time state medallist, Couch won his program’s first state title last season and will be looking to cap his prep career with a second in 2013-14.

Ryan Deakin, Legacy: Returning to the Lightning as a high school All-American sophomore, he will try to improve on the third-place finish he put together as a freshman last season.

Phil Downing, Broomfield: The 2012-13 BoCoPreps.com Wrestler of the Year, the most accomplished wrestler in Broomfield High’s rich history will attempt to join the elite group of four-time Colorado state champions.

Drake Greeott, Longmont: Along with senior teammate Jaime Ramos-Vega, he finished sixth in his weight class and will return to lead a Trojans squad that expects to have a big season in 2013-14.

Jon Hickman, Lyons: One of three Lions freshmen to qualify for state a year ago, Hickman hopes to parlay the experience gained from wrestling as the only freshman in his 170-pound weight class at last year’s state tournament into a few more wins this year.

Preston McQuade, Monarch: Eliminated earlier than he wanted in his sophomore state tournament campaign, McQuade returns stronger than ever to lead a young Coyotes group that shares his drive and determination.

Joseph Prieto, Holy Family: One match short of a 3A state title in 2012-13, the Tigers junior returns as a heavy favorite to win a state title. Twin brother Julian Prieto enters this season with equal potential after taking third last year.

Clay Robinson, Niwot: All-conference in the Northern League and sixth in 4A at 106 pounds his sophomore year, expect big things from the Cougars lightweight junior.

Zach Stodden, Broomfield: The defending 4A 170-pound state champion, Stodden is back for more and will play a major role in the defending team champion Eagles’ hopeful repeat bid as a senior in 2013-14.

 

 

POSTSEASON INFORMATION

All regional tournaments Feb. 14-15.

2A Northeast Region 3 — Local teams: Lyons. Location: Northern Junior College.

3A Northern Region 2 — Local teams: Holy Family. Location: Eaton High School.

4A Metro Region 1 — Local teams: Broomfield, Mead, Niwot. Location: Broomfield High School.

4A North Region 3 — Local teams: Frederick, Longmont, Silver Creek, Skyline. Location: Greeley Central High School.

4A Western Region 4 — Local team: Erie. Location: Montrose High School.

5A North Region 3 — Local teams: Boulder, Centaurus, Fairview, Monarch, Legacy. Location: Fort Collins High School.

State tournament — All classifications will be held Feb. 20-22 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

 

TEAM-BY-TEAM CAPSULES

BOULDER PANTHERS

Coach: Michael Joseph, 1st year.

Last year: Finished 16th at 5A Region 3 tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Martin Selby (Jr., 145), Leete Skinner (Sr., 132), Jack Wichlacz (Sr., 170).

Outlook: Embracing a steady commitment to improvement, the wrestlers at Boulder High feel they’ve had a productive offseason under new head coach Michael Joseph. The Panthers, who qualified only since-graduated Theo Colucci for the state tournament last season, want to send between two and four wrestlers down to Denver in 2013-14. In doing so, this year’s Panthers hope to set up the program for sustained success. The Panthers will start the season with 32 bodies in the program but need more athletes, particularly in the upper weights.

BROOMFIELD EAGLES

Coach: Pat DeCamillis, 1st year.

Last year: 4A state champions.

Returning state qualifiers: Jarod Albo (Sr., 152), Dylan Alvarez (Sr., 120), Phil Downing (Sr., 145), Austin Harris (Sr., 285), Derek Huff (Jr., 106), Luke McAnich (Sr., 182), Zach Stodden (Sr., 170).

Others to watch: Randall Baker (Jr., 138), Bobby Klob (Sr., 170), James Wells (Jr., 132).

Outlook: New head coach Pat DeCamillis has much to be excited about the team he has inherited. The defending 4A state champions boast seven returning state qualifiers, five state placers and two state champions, including Zach Stodden and BoCoPreps.com Wrestler of the Year Phil Downing. With the type of firepower the battle-tested Eagles bring to the table, they should be a favorite to compete for a state title again in 2013-14.

CENTAURUS WARRIORS

Coach: Cisco Gonzales, 12th year.

Last year: Finished 16th at 5A Region 3 tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Andre Jaramillo (Sr., 106), Nathan Kuykendall (So., 113), Forrest Lalaguna (So., 170), Justin Montoya (Jr., 152).

Outlook: The Warriors’ 2012-13 season ended in rampant injury, a last-place regional finish and a void of state qualifiers, so they’re looking for a fresh start in 2013-14. To that end, coach Cisco Gonzales has an underclassmen-laden lineup that he expects will mature as the year progresses based on the will to improve and work ethic the Warriors have demonstrated in preseason workouts. Having graduated last year’s leader Andre Aragon, there’s plenty of room for new wrestlers to step up.

ERIE TIGERS

Coach: Steve Gratton, 5th year.

Last year: Finished 33rd at 4A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Anthony Nieto (Jr., 113), Brandon Wetsch (Sr., 138), William Schell (Sr., 145), Ladd Bunker (Sr., 170).

Others to watch: Zach Starbeck (Sr., 152), Jake Schadler (Jr., 132).

Outlook: The Tigers have pumped up their schedule this season and have trained hard in the offseason, and they’re expecting results from both. Returning a strong contingent of state-qualifying upperclassmen, including seniors Brandon Wetsch, Ladd Bunker and William Schell, the Tigers have plenty of leadership to guide a bunch of talented young grapplers. With several freshmen potentially cracking the lineup this season, head coach Steve Gratton is excited about what he has to work with.

FAIRVIEW KNIGHTS

Coach: Jim Lefebvre, 9th year.

Last year: Finished 12th at 5A Region 3 tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Cito Balsells (Sr., 170), Preston Cates (Jr., 106), Melvin Gutierrez (Sr., 138), Cliff Lester (Jr., 126).

Outlook: The Knights won’t return any state tournament experience in 2013-14 but they will bring back four regional placers. Add to that minimal graduation numbers from May and a strong incoming class, and coach Jim Lefebvre thinks Fairview could send six wrestlers to the state tournament with the expectation of two or three finishing on the podium. Lefebvre added that with youth wrestling’s popularity on the rise in the area, as seen in five incoming Knights freshmen having competed on the local youth team Boulder United, both Boulder High and Fairview High should see a marked increase in their future competitiveness levels.

FREDERICK WARRIORS

Coach: Gerry Galway, 36th year.

Last year: Finished 47th at 4A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Noah Payne (Sr., 160), Chance Warnock (Sr., 126).

Outlook: The Warriors will be “extremely young and inexperienced,” says veteran head coach Gerry Galway, with only two seniors and 12 freshmen on the squad. They’ll also be hurt by the departure of leading wrestler Jesse Ortiz, who transferred to Mead High School for his junior year. Expect this to be a rebuilding year for the Warriors, whose primary focus is on learning and improving.

HOLY FAMILY TIGERS

Coach: Joe Domko, 2nd year.

Last year: Finished 6th at 3A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Joseph Prieto (Jr., 126), Julian Prieto (Jr., 120).

Others to watch: Willie Clements (Jr., 285).

Outlook: Junior brothers Joseph and Julian Prieto are back and hungry as ever for their first state championships after each finished top three in the state last season, and each has what it takes to accomplish that goal. Joining them at the top of the lineup will be heavyweight Willie Clements, who hopes a successful football season will translate to his junior wrestling campaign. After their top three, however, the Tigers lack depth in the wrestling room and it will be interesting to see how a considerable number of freshmen and other newcomers develop.

LEGACY LIGHTNING

Coach: Mike Thompson, 14th year.

Last year: Finished 10th at 5A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Ryan Deakin (So., 113).

Others to watch: Andrew Black (Jr., 152), Nolan Funk (So., 160), Matt Hebel (So., 152), Logan Lyons (Sr., 285), Adam Otterson (Sr., 138).

Outlook: After finishing 10th in Class 5A last season, and despite graduating seven seniors, the Lightning expect to be a stronger team in 2013-14. “With the guys we have and the work they’ve done and the tournaments they’ve wrestled in, I think we’ll place higher at state this season,” head coach Mike Thompson said. Enforcing their claim, sophomore Ryan Deakin, who placed third at state last season, returns to the Lightning as an All-American after taking eighth at the NHSCA National Folkstyle Championships in April.

LONGMONT TROJANS

Coach: Adam Keiswetter, 5th year.

Last year: Finished 22nd at 4A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Drake Greeott (Sr., 160), Fernando Ramos-Vega (Jr., 170), Jaime Ramos-Vega (Sr., 195), Eloy Valdez (Jr., 138), Ivan Wolf (Sr., 152).

Others to watch: Lane Olsen (Sr., 145), Jared Wells (Jr., 126).

Outlook: With several experienced seniors, led by 2012-13 sixth-place finishers Drake Greeott and Jaime Ramos-Vega, the Trojans are expecting a great season with their five returning state qualifiers and have trained consistently since last year’s state tournament to make it happen. Also returning three others with state tournament experience, the Trojans feel they’ve built the momentum they need to start the season strong. “Overall, the Trojans should be a very solid tournament team with experience up and down the lineup,” head coach Adam Keiswetter said.

LYONS LIONS

Coach: Chip Sullivan, 6th year.

Last year: Finished 29th at 2A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Jon Hickman (So., 170), Will Hickman (So., 106), Kanyon Raper (So., 126).

Others to watch: Daniel Fager (So., 152).

Outlook: This year’s Lions will be led by a group of super sophomores — Kanyon Raper, and Will and Jon Hickman — each of whom took third at regionals and return with state tournament experience from their freshman seasons. Though the Lions aren’t a deep group, they’re tight-knit and tough after wrestling with coach Sullivan since the sixth grade. They’ll rely on the middle of their lineup to carry them through the season while they fill in at the lower and higher weights.

MEAD MAVERICKS

Coach: Ty Tatham, 5th year.

Last year: Finished 14th at 4A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Sage Budd (Jr., 120), Jorge Cortez (Sr., 220), Kyle Couch (Sr., 195), Jesse Ortiz (Jr., 126).

Others to watch: Cristian Cortez (Jr., 138), Jack Gallegos (So., 220), Kyle McNellis (Sr., 145), Austin Van Hooker (Sr., 132).

Outlook: Returning Times-Call Wrestler of the Year Kyle Couch winning the program’s first state title was the big story last season and the senior’s quest for a second consecutive championship will be the big story in 2013-14. The Mavericks have some holes here and there but hope to get the lineup straightened out as the season progresses. To accomplish that, head coach Ty Tatham said the Mavericks will need to challenge their top guys and bring along their younger wrestlers so they are all ready at the right time. Returning a solid group with good experience, the Mavericks also are excited about having 35 students come out for wrestling during the preseason.

MONARCH COYOTES

Coach: Ezra Paddock, 7th year.

Last year: Finished 10th at 5A Region 3 tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Preston McQuade (Jr., 126).

Others to watch: Stas Betance (Jr., 132), Nate Brenner (Sr., 145), Chad Ciciora (Sr., 160), Ben Ferrera (Jr., 138), James Hattel (Sr., 152), Ian Scott (So., 220).

Outlook: Starting by taking 26 kids to the University of Nebraska team camp in July, the Coyotes have tried to create a challenging schedule for this year’s team by scheduling both the 85-team Las Vegas Holiday Classic (85 teams) and a tough dual tournament in Scottsbluff, Neb. Coach Ezra Paddock hopes the early season challenges will prepare the Coyotes for the league and regional tournaments at the end of the season. Led by a solid junior class and excited for the incoming freshmen, the Coyotes will have to overcome a lack of varsity experience in the early season.

NIWOT COUGARS

Coach: Scott Sanchez, 9th year.

Last year: Finished 33rd at 4A state tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: Joey Lambert (Sr., 138), Clay Robinson (Jr., 120).

Others to watch: Damien O’Hare (Sr., 170), Brandon Slepicka (Sr., 285), Jessie Slepicka (Sr., 160), Tommy Stager (Fr., 113), Matthew Strope (Sr., 152), David Voss (Sr., 160).

Outlook: Led by Clay Robinson and Joey Lambert, the 2013-14 Cougars are a senior-laden team with a plenty of experience, including Matthew Strope and the Slepicka brothers all looking to punch their tickets to state. The Cougars also boast a promising freshman group. Most notably, freshman Tommy Stager, younger brother of Niwot great Nick Stager, brings considerable mat experience to his high school debut. Avoiding injury and peaking at the right time will be crucial for the Cougars to realize their state tournament goals.

SILVER CREEK RAPTORS

Coach: Michael Silva, 13th year.

Last year: Finished 15th at 4A Region 2 tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Kenny Jones (So., 195), Mitch Webster (Jr., 220), Dakota Silva (Jr., 182).

Outlook: Last season, the Raptors had nearly a half-dozen wrestlers who were right on the state-qualifying bubble but finished just on the outside looking in after the Region 2 tournament. Many of those same young men, including Dakota Silva, Mitch Webster and Kenny Jones, will try to break through to the state tournament in 2013-14. They have several individuals who are capable of winning 20-plus matches, but for the Raptors to be successful in team scoring events like tournament standings and dual meets, they’ll need a handful of young wrestlers to step up and contribute.

SKYLINE FALCONS

Coach: Morgan Thompson, 3rd year.

Last year: Finished 16th at Region 2 tournament.

Returning state qualifiers: None.

Others to watch: Jesus Contreras (Jr., 138), Ruben Rivera (Jr., 113), Abel Rivera (So., 160), Justis Evans (So., 145), Steven Feltenberger (Sr., 195).

Outlook: The Falcons will be young in 2013-14, plain and simple, and have no big wrestlers to fill the upper weight classes. They do, however, have some experienced young men who they hope can show the younger wrestlers what it takes to reach their goals. “We have been preaching that hard work breeds success, and that success isn’t random,” head coach Morgan Thompson said. “We have challenged them to find, work, and achieve their goals academically and athletically.” In a unique twist, the Falcons have shared preseason practice with the Lyons High School team and will continue to do so until early December. Thompson said the camaraderie, and fresh training experience, has benefited both teams.

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