LONGMONT — As one of the biggest surprises in the state, Mead High’s Sage Budd shocked the Colorado prep wrestling community when he won the Class 4A 126-pound state title last season.
Budd won’t qualify for any upsets this season and everyone in the state knows who won the title the year before. While he’s already passed the test of making a name for himself, Budd will now have to focus on keeping it as pristine as possible.
He’ll face all-new competition with the Mavericks moving down to Class 3A. But with an attitude like Budd’s, doing exactly what he did at 4A last season should be good enough to win at 3A.
“I’ve been working a lot harder than last year,” said Budd, who will move up to 132 pounds this season. “I’ve been working out a lot more. I put on about 15 pounds over the summer. I wasn’t cutting for 126s last year and I plan on wrestling 138 then going down to 132 after our two-pound break.
“Dropping down to 3A doesn’t change anything, either. It’s just one big tournament. I’m just going to take each match one by one. I wrestle year-round so I know everyone. There will be tough competition at 3A.”
At the 2014 state tournament, Budd upset top-seeded Dalton Robertson from Weld Central, 2-0 in the second round. Reaching the finals with a 3-0 record, he then upset Broomfield’s title favorite Darek Huff 8-4 in the championship match, despite the fact that Huff had defeated him 6-3 at regionals just one week prior to the tournament.
Budd finished the 2013-14 season with a 30-3 record.
“This is my last year and I want it to end well,” Budd said. “I’ve been wrestling since I was six and it’s all come down to this season. I’ve just narrowed my life down to this one little subject so I can put all my work into it.”
In the preseason edition of Tim Yount’s On the Mat rankings, Valley’s Ruben Lucero, last year’s 3A 126-pound champion, is ranked just above Budd atop the rankings. Budd, however, defeated Lucero head-to-head over the summer.
His resume speaks volumes but the physical results Budd has garnered from his ramped-up offseason workout program will have more heads turning when he takes the mat at tournaments.
“He’s always been pretty good about lifting weights and he does a lot of it on his own,” Mead coach Ty Tatham said. “The one thing would be nice this year would be for him to stay healthy. He struggled a little with that last year. But he’s stronger and I think that’s going to help him. He’s doing a lot of things in practice as far as being a leader so that’s nice to see.”
Budd struggled with some health issues and illness last season that kept him out of several events, including the exclusive perennial invitational Top of the Rockies. Opening the 2014-15 season with a 5-0 record after winning the Mead High tournament and being name Most Outstanding Wrestler, Budd is off to a good start.
Budd has some big shoes to fill with two-time state champion Kyle Couch graduating after last season. But as far as the Mavericks team in concerned, Tatham thinks the Mavericks are up to a new challenge with Budd as their top gun.
“Dropping down doesn’t make things easier, it’s just a different challenge,” Tatham said. “We lost some good guys in Kyle Couch and Jorge Cortez but we have a little more depth. It may take us a little while to get everyone where we need to be but we should be pretty good this year.”
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