If you go
What: 20th Annual Top of the Rockies wrestling tournament
When: Friday: Competition begins at 1 p.m.; Saturday: Competition begins at 8:30 a.m. and concludes with the Parade of Champions at 6 p.m.
Where: Centaurus High School, 10300 W South Boulder Rd., Lafayette
Participating teams: Abraham Lincoln, Adams City, Alamosa, Arvada West, Brighton, Broomfield, Brush, Centaurus, Central (G.J.), Cherry Creek, Cheyenne Central (Wyo.), Cheyenne East (Wyo.), Edmond Memorial (Okla.), Fort Lupton, Fort Morgan, Grand Island (Neb.), Grand Junction, Grandview, Holy Family, Lakewood, Legacy, Mead, Monarch, Mountain Vista, Omaha North (Neb.), Pomona, Ponderosa, Poudre, Pueblo County, Pueblo East, Pueblo South, Rio Rancho (N.M.), Rocky Ford, Rocky Mountain, Scottsbluff (Neb.), Thompson Valley.
LAFAYETTE — Just the mere mention of the name “Top of the Rockies” evokes a good feeling.
The states premier wrestling tournament enters its 20th season at Centaurus High School this Friday and Saturday and a who’s who of the best of the best from all over the state will converge on Lafayette.
Throw in powerhouse programs from neighboring Wyoming, Nebraska, New Mexico and this year Edmond Memorial out of Oklahoma and it has all the makings for a brilliant two days of grappling.
For Centaurus wrestling coach Cesar Valenzuela, his role has come full circle. The former Warriors standout wrestled in the tournament during his high school days and is now running the show.
“The pride goes deeper than just me, and I think Lafayette as a whole is both proud and honored to host Top of the Rockies,” he said. “It certainly is fun to carry on the legacy of it through my athletes.”
And for Valenzuela, the work that goes into making the tournament run doesn’t just start the week of — he has been at it since the end of last year’s festivities; making sure that everything goes off without a hitch this weekend.
And he is always looking for way to improve it.
“I took a trip out to the D(ivision) I nationals last year and we got a couple new out of state teams that are definitely going to amplify the tournament,” Valenzuela said. “The day it ends, I’m already scouting out the next best teams for next year. Teams that are losing a lot of seniors, teams with promising underclassmen and there is a lot that goes into it.”
And he certainly did his homework for this years extravaganza. Nine of the top 10 teams currently in the top 10 of Tim Yount’s On the Mat rankins in Class 5A are scheduled to be on hand, including Pomona (1), Grand Junction (2), Poudre (3) and Monarch (4).
Seven state champion wrestlers from Class 5A will be there and if you go through all the classes, there are 11 2017 Colorado state champions in the field.
Currently, every wrestler ranked No. 1 in Class 5A — including Legacy’s Aidan Funk (170 pounds) and Broomfield’s Mason Watt (220) — will be there setting up for what will not only be an exciting Parade of Champions on Saturday night at 6 p.m., but it will be worth your nickel to be at the semifinals at 12:30 p.m.
And Valenzuela has heard the rumblings from around the state that the tournament has possibly outgrown its home at Centaurus and that moving it to a different location would be ideal.
But he balks at that notion and knows that changes are coming soon that will keep the tournament in its rightful place.
“The school is undergoing construction this year and we will have a new and improved gymnasium in 2018-19 for Top of the Rockies,” said Valenzuela, who is champing at the bit to get things going on Friday after getting his feet wet as a coach last year. “I don’t know about moving, because as long as I can cap it at around 35 solid, tough teams, I think we will always be able to maintain it at Centaurus and keep things rocking.”
The BoCo teams scheduled to be at Centaurus are Broomfield, the host Warriors, Holy Family, Legacy, Mead and Monarch.