EATON — It was a matchup neither Ernie Quintana nor Sage Budd really ever envisioned, and most certainly not when the two wrestlers from opposing schools were sparring together on occasion during the summer and fall.
But at the Eaton High gym on Saturday night, their paths crossed once again in the most unlikely of circumstances — on the championship mat of the 132-pound bracket at the Class 3A Region 1 meet.
While Mead’s Budd ran through the bracket like a freight train, Erie’s Quintana played the underdog role perfectly this weekend, and as a result the Tigers sophomore made his way to the Pepsi Center for the first time.
Budd remained undefeated by earning a major decision in the final, but for Quintana, nothing could bring him down after scoring a pair of upsets to get into the title bout.
“Honestly, I think a month and a half ago, I couldn’t have made it this far,” Quintana said after finishing in second place, moving to 25-16 on the season. “I’ve trained to work for this moment, and I made it here.
“To wrestle Sage … two weeks ago, he pinned me in the first period. I made it to the third against him, gave him a run, so I’m proud. It’s a rush.”
“I really didn’t expect to see him, but he sure did wrestle me tough,” said Budd, who added he went over to Erie a couple days a week in the offseason just to get extra work in. “I couldn’t turn him or nothing.”
Quintana and Adam Evertz gave Erie plenty to cheer about, while Anthony Nieto (third place, 113 pounds), Elijah Roper (third place, 195 pounds) and Toby Campbell (fourth place, 138) also earned their way to next week’s state championships.
Evertz upset Faith Christian’s Luc Herrera in the semifinals with a 7-6 squeaker, but in the 106-pound final made quick work of Platte Valley’s Varrion Ciddio with a pin in just 1 minute, 41 seconds. He quickly thanked his coaches and his opponent and then screamed up into the stands to hug his parents. The sophomore finished outside the top six last year, and so emotions were high with the regional title.
Evertz said the extra efforts put in by himself and Quintana really made the difference for the pair on Saturday.
“My parents are big supporters of me, and I owe this all to them for helping with anything I need through the season,” Evertz said after improving to 31-10 and helping EHS to a fifth-place finish. “Over the summer, Ernie and I were mainly the two Erie kids that went to every single workout, and I think for both of us today, it really showed. I’m proud of him.”
All season long, Budd really hasn’t known what to expect when regionals came around just because Mead’s schedule included a lot of 4A and 5A opponents. In fact, Quintana might have been the foe he knew the most.
But the state champ from a year ago at 125 pounds went 4-0 with his lone pin coming in the first round. The only ranked opponent he had to face on the weekend was Bennett’s Garrett Miller (No. 6 in the latest On the Mat rankings), and that was a 7-0 decision in the semis.
“This week was just getting in shape and getting ready for state,” Budd said. “This wasn’t the toughest tournament I’ve wrestled this year but it was a good thing to see the people in 3A. I’m not really familiar with the competition in 3A.”
Mead finished well overall, with Jeremy Ashton (second, 113 pounds), Jesse Ortiz (third, 126), Mike Gallegos (third, 285) and Brennan McDermitt (fourth, 160) all extending their seasons. McDermitt won in a wrestleback.
A host of younger Mavericks showed their mettle with fifth-place finishes, and the team placed fourth overall.
Holy Family had a smaller contingent but made noise nonetheless. The Tigers’ Julian Prieto improved to 42-1 and won the region title at 138 pounds with a major decision of Brush’s Arnoldo Maltos-Garcia, and Joseph Prieto finished runner-up to No. 1-ranked Jimmy Fate at 145 pounds.
Willy Clements and Kolsen Welham both finished on the wrong side of some tight decisions in their respective title bouts, too. Clements lost 2-1 to second-ranked Joe Carwin (Brush), while Welham fell 5-3 to Eaton’s Rusty Lohr — who had the crowd in his corner.
“I got fifth in regionals last year, so I was really focused on doing it this time,” said Welham, who won by 7-4 and 10-8 decisions in earlier rounds. “I just hope to do my best when I get there. I really think with all our other guys being seniors are going to place as high as they can, and I am just going to try and do the same.”
Class 3A, Region 1
At Eaton HS
Team scores — Platte Valley 241.5, Brush 229, Berthoud 152.5, Mead 144, Eaton 140, Erie 127, Holy Family 88, University 83, Faith Christian 74.5, Estes Park 69.5, Weld Central 55, Bennett 35, Skyview 17.
106 — Adam Evertz, Erie, pin Varrion Ciddio, Platte Valley, 1:49.
113 — Michael Vasquez, University, dec. Jeremy Ashton, Mead, 4-1.
120 — Andrew Jaramillo, Platte Valley, pin Macky Sandoval, Brush, 1:21.
126 — Conrad Cole, Brush, dec. Kyler Bailey, Berthoud, 5-1.
132 — Sage Budd, Mead, maj. dec. Ernie Quintana, Erie, 15-1.
138 — Julian Prieto, Holy Family, maj. dec. Arnoldo Maltos-Garcia, Brush, 11-2.
145 — Jimmy Fate, Berthoud, dec. Joseph Prieto, Holy Family, 15-8.
152 — Rusty Lohr, Eaton, dec. Kolsen Welham, Holy Family, 5-3.
160 — Dalton Robertson, Weld Central, pin Alec Petterson, Brush, 3:15.
170 — Chad Ellis, Berthoud, pin Justin Anderson, University, 2:58.
182 — Garrett McCuller, Platte Valley, pin Kyle Rosenbrock, Brush, 1:29.
195 — Jose Rodriguez, Brush, pin Garrett Coalson, Eaton, 7:57.
220 — Jeremiah Land, Platte Valley, maj. dec. Tristan Teter, Brush, 11-2.
285 — Joe Carwin, Brush, dec. Willy Clements, Holy Family, 2-1.
Local third-place matches
113 — Anthony Nieto, Erie, pin Ariel Rodriguez, Eaton, :51.
126 — Jesse Ortiz, Mead, dec. Andrew Clark, Bennett, 7-1.
138 — Ryan Waite, Platte Valley, dec. Toby Campbell, Erie, 10-3.
195 — Elijah Roper, Erie, pin Tino Ciddio, Platte Valley, 2:35.
285 — Jack Gallegos, Mead, pin Tanner Reed, University, 4:35.
Local state wrestleback
160 — Brennan McDermitt, Mead dec. Jake Sandau, Eaton, 3-2.