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Wrestling: Longmont’s Morris wins thriller to earn regional title

LOVELAND — The walls of the gym at Thompson Valley High School could barely contain Nathan Morris’ excitement Saturday afternoon.

A junior from Longmont, Morris scored a takedown with under 10 seconds remaining in his 152-pound title match with Devin Roettger of Mesa Ridge to score a 6-5 victory during the Class 4A Region 2 tournament.

The win not only gave Morris a regional title, but also gives him a ton of momentum and should earn him a favorable seed heading into next week’s state tournament at the Pepsi Center.

“This should give me an awesome seed,” said Morris, who improved to 35-6 on the year. “I’m excited for how well I can do at state. This is an awesome accomplishment.”

Morris, who scored a pinfall and a major decision en route to reaching the finals, controlled the championship match much of the way, but found himself in a 5-4 hole when he gave up an escape to Roettger to start the third.

That led to the thrilling finish, with Morris taking a late shot that brought Roettger down and delivered the regional title to the Trojans.

“All the work that I put in to get there, and it all comes down to the last few seconds,” Morris said. “I think we were both tired and I just took a shot I thought I could get. I just put every last bit of energy into that shot.”

Unlike last year, when he went two-and-out during his first trip to state, Morris plans on sticking around a lot longer and make a trip to the podium this go-round.

“This year I’m expecting to do a lot better,” Morris said.

Morris is one of three Trojans headed to state next week. Will Hickman (126 pounds) and Drake Engelking (160) both advanced to the regional title match but had to settle for second place.

Niwot junior Tommy Stager also picked up a regional title at 132 pounds as expected, but it didn’t come without a few tense moments along the way. In his semifinal match with Braden Perkins of Mountain View earlier in the day, Stager found himself in real trouble and gave up near fall points before recovering to score a 9-7 victory.

“That’s something I’m not too happy about,” said Stager, who improved to 43-4 on the year. “It turned out in my favor, which is nice, and it didn’t make a huge difference in the match.

“Braden’s a really solid wrestler, so kudos to him.”

Things went much smoother for Stager in the finals as he scored an 8-4 decision over Zach Kennison of Thompson Valley.

With regionals out of the way, Stager can focus on finishing his quest to win a state title.

“That is absolutely the goal,” Stager said of winning state. “I’m feeling pretty confident, feel like my technique is solid.”

Alex Gazdik also qualified for the Cougars, taking fourth at 126 pounds.

Silver Creek is sending six wrestlers to state, including regional champion Kenny Jones, who won the 220-pound title.

Joining Jones at the Pepsi Center for the Ratpors is Sawyer Novara (second at 106), Tanner Eshleman (4th at 138), Justin Evans (third at 152), Ceone Evans (4th at 170) and Jake Williams (4th at heavyweight).

Skyline Uriel Contreras finished second at 120 pounds to qualify for state, and Frederick will be sending two wrestlers — Jake Longstroth (4th at 182) and Nick Henderson (3rd at 220).

Class 4A Region 2

At Thompson Valley

Team scores — 1. Thompson Valley 223.0, 2. Mesa Ridge 210.5, 3. Mountain View 184.0, 4. Pueblo South 141.5, 5. Silver Creek 128.0, 6. Longmont 122.0, 7. Valor Christian 117.0, 8. Roosevelt 99.0, 9. Frederick 67.0, 10. Niwot 53.0, 11. Northridge 41.0, 12. Skyline 40.0, 13. Arvada 11.0

106 — Kasey Gault (Thompson Valley) 27-6, So. over Sawyer Novara (Silver Creek) 36-3, Jr. (Dec 5-1).

113 — Hunter Williams (Thompson Valley) 27-8, So. over Derek Golden (Roosevelt) 34-11, Sr. (MD 9-1).

120 — Bo Slaymaker (Roosevelt) 33-10, So. over Uriel Contreras (Skyline) 10-5, Jr. (Dec 5-2).

126 — Vlad Kazakov (Thompson Valley) 33-2, Sr. over Will Hickman (Longmont) 20-3, Sr. (Fall 3:35).

132 — Tommy Stager (Niwot) 43-4, Jr. over Zach Kennison (Thompson Valley) 23-5, Jr. (Dec 8-4).

138 — Braydon Besse (Thompson Valley) 21-8, So. over Elijah Valdez (Mesa Ridge) 34-7, So. (Dec 10-7).

145 — Samuel Freeman (Mesa Ridge) 39-3, Sr. over Elias Manzanares (Pueblo South) 28-9, Jr. (MD 10-2).

152 — Nathan Morris (Longmont) 35-6, Jr. over Devin Roettger (Mesa Ridge) 36-6, Sr. (Dec 6-5).

160 — Parker Simington (Thompson Valley) 40-0, Sr. over Drake Engelking (Longmont) 23-2, Fr. (Fall 2:40).

170 — Braden Barker (Mountain View) 30-8, So. over Jacob Howell (Roosevelt) 26-12, Sr. (Fall 3:01).

182 — Tim Lenhart (Mountain View) 22-13, Sr. over Easton Cecil (Valor Christian) 32-2, So. (Dec 11-8).

195 — Deric Cruz (Mesa Ridge) 33-9, Jr. over Patton Graff (Thompson Valley) 28-8, Sr. (Dec 5-3).

220 — Kenny Jones (Silver Creek) 37-2, Sr. over Dominick Fini (Mesa Ridge) 34-10, Jr. (Fall 5:37).

285 — Onyx Rowland (Mesa Ridge) 28-7, Jr. over Dillon Reinkensmeyer (Valor Christian) 32-2, Sr. (Fall 3:11).

126 — Jordan Jackson (Northridge) 20-16, Jr. over Alex Gazdik (Niwot) 15-16, So. (Dec 2-0).

138 — Coby Welch (Valor Christian) 31-12, Sr. over Tanner Eshleman (Silver Creek) 9-10, Jr. (Fall 4:34).

152 — Justis Evans (Silver Creek) 23-7, Sr. over Jackson Gilbert (Mountain View) 23-19, So. (Fall 3:38).

160 — Semaj Spencer (Mountain View) 25-13, So. over Jonah Sing (Frederick) 18-19, Sr. (Fall 2:30).

170 — Jake Gallina (Pueblo South) 10-11, So. over Ceone Evans (Silver Creek) 26-14, Jr. (Fall 1:56).

182 — Jajuan Jones (Mesa Ridge) 19-3, Sr. over Jake Longstreth (Frederick) 24-15, Jr. (Fall 0:45).

220 — Nick Henderson (Frederick) 12-13, Sr. over Martin Rodriquez (Mountain View) 14-20, So. (Fall 4:12).

285 — Tomas Sanchez (Northridge) 31-11, Jr. over Jake Williams (Silver Creek) 31-9, So. (For.).

Fourth-place matches (wrestlebacks)

120 — Jaden McLaughlin (Thompson Valley) 13-12, Fr. over Zachary Becwith (Silver Creek) 21-18, So. (Dec 8-4)..

126 — Alex Gazdik (Niwot) 15-16, So. over Kyler Hershman (Valor Christian) 9-10, Fr. (RULE)..

138 — Tanner Eshleman (Silver Creek) 9-10, Jr. over Ben Ahern (Longmont) 20-20, Sr. (RULE).

145 — Johnathan Walker (Thompson Valley) 23-15, Fr. over Patrick Murray (Silver Creek) 21-14, Sr. (RULE).

160 — Jacob Beltran (Pueblo South) 19-21, So. over Jonah Sing (Frederick) 18-19, Sr. (MD 11-3).

170 — Ceone Evans (Silver Creek) 26-14, Jr. over Angel Perez (Skyline) 16-13, So. (RULE).

182 — Jake Longstreth (Frederick) 24-15, Jr. over Chris Ringus (Thompson Valley) 15-19, So. (Fall 3:52).

285 — Jake Williams (Silver Creek) 31-9, So. over Kyle Aumiller (Pueblo South) 6-12, So. (RULE).

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