There’s talking the talk and there’s walking the walk. Erie’s Brandon Wetsch knows, as a wrestler, you’ve got to do one if you’re going to do the other.
Wetsch hasn’t been shy in declaring his state title intentions this season. In the first round of the state tournament on Thursday, his emotions matched his aspirations.
Opening his title conquest against a familiar opponent in Mead’s Cristian Cortez, Westch came out pumped up to start the tournament with a 30-second pin.
“As a senior, you have to have no regrets,” Wetsch said. “No matter if it’s a kid I’ve beaten or it’s a kid that’s beaten me 5,000 times, I’m going out there with everything I have. My only goal is state champion, state champion, state champion. I want to leave this tournament with nothing shy of that and I’m going to try to mow down everyone that’s in my way.”
Wetsch took fourth place in the state as a sophomore two years ago and has been determined to climb the podium ever since.
Just as determined, though with a bit quieter an approach, Wetsch’s teammate Ladd Bunker also won his first match on the hopeful state title trail. He won an 8-3 decision over Canon City’s Anthony Abbott.
While Wetsch is brimming with intensity, Bunker has his own subtle approach to gaining an advantage. For Bunker, his confidence lies in his preparedness.
“I know that kid (Abbott) likes to do funk and he actually caught me with it a couple weeks ago,” Bunker said. “I just stayed away from it. It’s a good technique but it’s easy to catch on to. I’m happy with the start. Everyone is prepared. I just prepare better.”
Also wrestling for the Tigers at 113 pounds, Anthony Nieto lost a 6-2 decision to Pueblo South’s Michael Ramirez.
Broomfield senior 160-pound stud Phil Downing began his quest for a fourth state title with relative ease over Woodland Park’s Jonathan Hinton. Downing won by fall just 1:18 into the match and will face Longmont’s Drake Greeott in the quarterfinals.
But it was a disappointing first day overall for the Class 4A team favorite Eagles. Broomfield sent 11 wrestlers in all and went just 5-6 on Day 1.
Darek Huff (126 pounds), Jarod Albo (152), Downing, Zach Stodden (182) and Austyn Harris (285) all moved into the quarterfinals.
D.J. Zissimos, who recently returned from a broken leg and won regionals last week in his first action of the season, was pinned by Berthoud’s Nate Ryken at 4:41. Regional champ Randall Baker was pinned at 145 pounds by Justice Ramos of Montezuma-Cortez and Luke McAnnich lost a hard fought match to Charlie Wallace of Falcon 4-2.
After Day 1, Broomfield sits in sixth place with 18 points. The Eagles’ main competition from Thompson Valley went 8-4 on Thursday and has the team lead with 25 points.
Twins tend to do things alike.
What Holy Family’s Julian and Jospeh Prieto did on Thursday in the first round of the Class 3A was down right creepy.
Julian took the mat first against Lake County’s Ryan Arguello and was up 4-0 via takedown and then near-fall points before winning by pin at 55 seconds.
Moments later Joseph did the exact same thing against Hotchkiss’ Mitch McCurdy, just 12 seconds faster at 43 seconds.
“I just wanted to go out there, win and start on a good streak,” said Joseph Prieto, who admitted he didn’t try to one-up his brother. “I didn’t know what time he had.”
Tigers heavyweight Willy Clements was also on the mat for less than a minute, but was on the wrong end of a 55 second fall to St. Mary’s senior Miles Keane.
STAGER TAKES THE STAGE
Niwot head wrestling coach Scott Sanchez has seen freshmen thrive and fold in their first state tournament matches at the Pepsi Center.
Sanchez didn’t know exactly what to expect when freshman Tommy Stager made his state tournament debut as a No. 1 seed in the 4A 113-pound bracket. True to his lofty wrestling lineage, Stager didn’t disappoint and won a 16-6 major decision over Berthoud’s Matthew Bailey.
“He’s wrestled really well,” Sanchez said. “For a freshman, it’s tough to predict how they’re going to adjust. Some freshmen just don’t even care, they just go out and wrestle. I think he handled it real well.”
Cougars senior Joey Lambert drew the defending 152-pound state champ Isaac Naro from Pueblo South and will have to wrestle his way back to the podium after getting pinned in 4:55. Battling an injury, the Cougars 160-pounder Jessie Slepicka lost a 5-3 decision to Canon City’s Lucas Bufmack.
WEBSTER KEEPS WEAVING
Being undersized at 220 pounds and capitalizing on opponents’ mistakes has worked for Silver Creek’s Mitch Webster all season.
It’s still working.
In the first round of the state tournament, Webster bided his time until Palmer Ridge’s Jonathan Dela Cruz slipped up. Webster pinned him in 1:25.
“He came in aggressive to start and was pounding my head,” Webster said. “But when he made his mistake, I got that first takedown and I was able to turn him for the pin. Truthfully, that’s how I’ve been so successful this year.”
Webster has a date with defending champion Evan Lancelot from Pueblo South on Friday.
With five seniors qualified, the Longmont Trojans had a good Day 1 at the state tournament.
At 152 pounds, Drake Greeott won a 3-2 decision over Discovery Canyon’s Canin Ritz.
“He was a good opponent,” Greeott said. “I just needed to come out, wrestle smart and hold on for the win.”
Trojans 152-pound senior Ivan Wolf pinned Eagle Valley’s Ruben Chagoya in 45 seconds. At 195 pounds, Jaime Ramos-Vega pinned Battle Mountain’s Alex Ramirez in 1:09.
Pueblo West’s Travis Myers won a 6-0 decision over Trojans 145-pounder Lane Olsen. Mesa Ridge’s Tremell Stanley pinned Longmont’s Thomas Nichols in 1:27 at 182 pounds.
Sage Budd was the Mead Mavericks’ only winner on Day 1 at state, pinning Battle Mountain’s Jesus Morales in 1:12.
Palisade’s Dalton Hannigan pinned Mavericks transfer Jesse Ortiz in 5:30. Fort Morgan’s Toby McBride pinned Mead’s Jorge Cortez, also in 5:30.
Defending state champion Kyle Couch had a first-round bye and did not wrestle Thursday.
Ryan Deakin wasted very little time in disposing of Rangeview’s Dominic Wenger in their 113 pound first round match.
Deakin scored an takedown in the first 10 seconds and then recorded the eventual fall just 28 seconds into the match.
Deakin’s Lighting teammates didn’t fair as well. At 145 pounds, Adam Otterson lost by major decision to Prairie View’s Luis Bejarano. Heavyweight Logan Lyons was put on his back 17 seconds into the second period against Montbello’s Jerrell Nettles.
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