LONGMONT — Jorge Cortez and Kyle Couch have a mutually beneficial relationship in the Mead wrestling room.
The two seniors battle every day in practice. The benefit for Cortez is that he spends every day battling with a state champion. For Couch, having a capable big body to push him each day only makes him better.
“That’s just one of those things you see in wrestling, two guys that are close in weight, they kind of make each other better,” said Mead coach Ty Tatham after his team’s first match back after the holiday break.
The results showed on Thursday night in a dual against Erie that the Mavericks won 42-36 over the Tigers.
Cortez, ranked No. 5 at 220 pounds in 4A by On the Mat, was the second match of the night and on paper appeared to be the best of the night. Erie’s Victor Caram came in ranked No. 8.
After getting to know one another for the first 50 seconds, Cortez exploded and made his move. It would be the only one he would need to make. He saw his opportunity and in a matter of six seconds, scored the takedown and the pin at 57 seconds.
“I saw that he was pounding my head a lot and opening his legs a lot,” Cortez said. “In practice, I’ve really been going after my double legs and I saw the opportunity and took it. I was a little surprised, because I was thinking he was going to give me more of a fight, but I think I knocked the air out of him pretty quick.”
Couch would have to wait his turn to wrestle the final match of the night against Erie’s Elijah Roper. Couch led just 2-0 after the first period against a game Roper, who didn’t allow the state champ to gain any sort of leverage. A second period filled with intrigue — including a roll onto the basketball court that appeared to hurt Roper’s shoulder and another violent takedown that took the air out of the Erie wrestler — saw Couch gain control and eventually go to the third. Couch won by technical fall 21-5 in the third.
“First match back from break is always hard and I’m not nearly in he condition I need to be, but I give that kid props for coming in there and giving me a good match,” said Couch, whose team will host the Maverick Duals on Saturday.
The lengthy match was something Tatham was more than happy to have happen to his standout: “I’d rather have them wrestle for five minutes and 45 seconds and then pin them. We’ve got to get ready to wrestle those tougher matches later in the year, so that’s what we want is full length matches.”
Other ranked Mead wrestlers to take care of business on Thursday night were Sage Budd at 126 pounds and Jesse Ortiz at 132 pounds. Budd was already up 6-1 on the Tigers’ Ernie Quintana when he scored his fall at 1:13 of the first period. Ortiz battled to the very end with Erie’s Jake Schadler and earned four points for his team with a 14-6 major decision.
The Tigers, who were without state qualifier William Schell at 152 pounds because of sickness, still managed to make things interesting as the night progressed. Adam Evertz got things started for the Tigers at 106 pounds by pinning Austin Taylor early in the second period.
Erie’s three wrestlers that are ranked by On the Mat didn’t disappoint and didn’t show any signs of holiday rust. At 145 pounds, No. 3 Brandon Wetsch made quick work of Cristian Cortez, pinning the junior in 41 seconds.
Zach Starbeck bolted to a 11-3 first period lead and then the No. 14 wrestler at 160 pounds finished off the Mavericks’ Gino Musick just 33 seconds into the second. Finally, at 170 pounds, No. 3 Ladd Bunker earned the Tigers six points by pinning Jose Gaytan with 0.9 seconds showing on the first period clock.
“We are doing well and we are definitely in a lot better shape than most teams,” Erie coach Steve Gratton said. “I think we are on track. The hard part for us is that we were sick and we are coming on strong now. Hopefully Williams comes back soon, because we would like to do well at the BVI (Boulder Valley Invitational).”
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Mead 42, Erie 36
At Mead HS
106 —Adam Evertz, Erie, pinned Austin Taylor, 2:29; 113 — Anthony Nieto, Erie, won by forfeit; 120 — Adrian Rincon, Erie, won by forfeit; 126 — Sage Budd, Mead, pinned Ernie Quintana, 1:13; 132 — Jesse Ortiz, Mead, maj. dec. Jake Schadler, 14-6; 138 — Austin VanHooker, Mead, dec. Tobias Campbell, 7-4; 145 — Brandon Wetsch, Erie, pinned Cristian Cortez, :41; 152 — Caleb Mendez, Mead, pinned Trevor David, 2:59; 160 — Zach Starbuck, Erie, pinned Gino Musick, 2:33; 170 — Ladd Bunker, Erie, pinned Jose Gaytan, 2:00; 182 — Kyle Couch, Mead, tech. fall Elijah Roper, 21-5; 195 — Chris Rayl, Mead, pinned Dustin Hamlin, 1:05; 220 — Jorge Cortez, Mead, pinned Victor Caram, :57; 285 — Jack Gallegos, Mead, won by forfeit.