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WESTMINSTER — It was difficult to diagnose whether it was a better Saturday for Monarch or Centaurus.

At the Class 5A Region 3 Tournament at Westminster High School, Monarch qualified a school-record six wrestlers to the state tournament. Centaurus sent three, but the Warriors had the added bonus of two regional champs in Justin Montoya (160 pounds) and Forrest Lalaguna, who made a somewhat disputed move to heavyweight at midseason.

Either way you slice it, it was a banner day for the local squads.

“Breakout year for our program for sure,” Monarch coach Ezra Paddock said. “Not just today. We’ve had a really good season. We finished 14-3 in duals and wrestled really competitive in all our tournaments. We don’t plan on looking back from here.”

If anyone was pleased with the success of both schools, it was Paddock. He was a member of Centaurus’ back-to-back state-champion squads in 1995 and ’96 and posted three top-five individual finishes at state for the Warriors. He’s a longtime fan of Centaurus coach Cisco Gonzales.

Five of Monarch’s qualifiers are first-timers, with only heavyweight Ian Scott a veteran of the Pepsi Center. Freshman Cole Polluconi (120) and senior Ben Ferrera (145) advanced to the finals, but each faced a beastly opponent.

Polluconi (28-7) was pinned in the second round by Travis Torres (36-1) of regional champ Pomona, a wrestler ranked No. 1 in the state and 17th in the nation. Ferrera (31-11) was pinned by Rocky Mountain’s Danny Muphy (28-1) in the first round. Each moves to state as the No. 2 qualifier from the region.

Four Coyotes competed in third-place matches and all of them won, thus nailing down a state berth and avoiding a potential wrestleback. At 113 pounds, Parker McQuade entered the third round trailing 3-1, but got a reversal with 19 seconds left to edge Ponderosa’s Parker Benekas 4-3.

At 126, Taylor Dawal defeated Prairie View’s Joe Archuleta 6-4 in overtime. Then Caden Feenstra followed with a 3-1 win at 132 over Prairie View’s Santana Salas. Scott outlasted Oreva Koka of Cherokee Trail 8-3.

“The thing we’ve emphasized all year with them is we’re starting to win the close matches,” Paddock said. “In our program, we just hadn’t done a lot of that.”

Feenstra (35-10) said he wasn’t stressed about the third-place match because he didn’t have a wrestleback to worry about. That being said, roaring into state with a win was a lot better.

“The match before me, Taylor, helped set the pace and I was able to build off that,” Feenstra said. “It feels awesome to know that all the hard work that I put in during the offseason up to now has paid off.”

The hard work also has yielded dividends to Centaurus’ Montoya (30-9), who was 7-21 as a sophomore and 21-21 last season. He edged Brighton’s Jeremiah Ellerd 7-4 in the final to punctuate his first trip to state with a regional title.

“It was all about getting into the right zone before I went to the state tournament, and I think I did that successfully,” Montoya said. “The original goal was just to place for state. Getting there was just the first step.”

Lalaguna, a regional champ at 182 last season, began the year at 220. After recovering from shoulder and knee ailments, he was moved to heavyweight after Michael Steele (who finished fourth at 220 and also qualified) excelled at the lower weight.

“With that there was a lot of controversy with my dad and my coach,” Lalaguna said. “My dad didn’t think it was a good idea for me to move up, but my coach thought it was for the best. I honestly didn’t care. If I got to wrestle, I got to wrestle.”

Lalaguna pinned Fruita’s Clayton Voytilla late in the first round of the final and is eagerly eyeing a top finish at state. He has his sights set on top-ranked Dane Drimmer of Chaparral.

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Class 5A Region 3 Tournament

At Westminster HS

Team scores — Pomona 255.5, Rocky Mountain 146, Ponderosa 142.5, Fruita 136.5, Brighton 132, Poudre 109.5, Monarch 106.5, Cherokee Trail 84.5, Loveland 82, Prairie View 79.5, Centaurus 65.5, Greeley West 63, Thornton 59, Westminster 24, Fossil Ridge 22.


Championship matches

106 — Dayton Marvel, Pomona, dec. Brody Lamb, Poudre, 10-8.

113 — Tomas Gutierrez, Pomona, major dec. Juan Rubio, Greeley West, 15-2.

120 — Travis Torres, Pomona, pinned Cole Polluconi, Monarch, 2:45.

126 — Jacob Greenwood, Poudre, pinned Daniel Van Hoose, Fruita, 1:14.

132 — Jason Romero, Pomona, major dec. Orlando Gallegos, Brighton, 11-1.

138 — Dylan West, Greeley West, dec. Joe Huber, Ponderosa, 7-5.

145 — Danny Murphy, Rocky Mountain, pinned Ben Ferrera, Monarch, 0:57.

152 — Roman Ortiz, Rocky Mountain, major dec. Michael Thelen, Cherokee Trail, 9-1.

160 — Justin Montoya, Centaurus, dec. Jeremiah Ellerd, Brighton, 7-4.

170 — Deyaun Trueblood, Pomona, pinned Joshua Cordova, Thornton, 4:24.

182 — Konnor Schmidt, Rocky Mountain, dec. Cameron Gonzales, Pomona, 5-3.

195 — Jacob Seely, Fruita, tech. fall Brandon Micale, Pomona, 22-7

220 — Charles Dunkelman, Loveland, dec. Daniel Chavez, Pomona, 5-3.

285 — Forrest Lalaguna, Centaurus, pinned Clayton Voytilla, Fruita, 1:57.

Local third-place matches

113 — Parker McQuade, Monarch, dec. Parker Benekas, Ponderosa, 4-3.

126 — Taylor Dawal, Monarch, dec. Joe Archuleta, Prairie View, 6-4 (OT).

132 — Caden Feenstra, Monarch, dec. Santana Salas, Prairie View, 3-1.

285 — Ian Scott, Monarch, dec. Oreva Koka, Cherokee Trail, 8-3.

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