Brad Cochi/ BoCoPreps.com
Brad Cochi/ BoCoPreps.com
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
NIWOT — Gio Wilson was having a really good tournament before he broke his left wrist during his second match at the Monster Match tournament in Denver on Nov. 3.
The injury slowed the Longmont junior’s momentum heading into the 2018-19 prep wrestling season. But Wilson was given a target date for his return to the mat and that helped him focus on his preparation and remain determined that if his junior season was going to start late, it was going to start strong.
Wilson knew he would be back just in time for the Gary Daum Classic.
At the annual Boulder County area tournament at Niwot High School on Saturday, Wilson made good on the promise he made to himself. With three pins and an 8-4 decision over Rocky Mountain’s Spencer Bowman in the championship match, Wilson won the 126-pound title he had been imagining for months.
“I’ve had it in my head, mentally, for the past two months that I was going to win this tournament,” Wilson said. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for two months and I’ve been playing it over and over in my mind. I’ve been working since June for this season so to come in and win the tournament today, it feels great.”
Due to his lack of matches wrestled, Wilson was among the lowest seeds in his bracket on Saturday. As such, he had to get past a Class 2A state placer in Lyons’ Oran Huff in the first round. Huff went on to place fifth after losing to Wilson, who was two points short of placing at last year’s 4A state tournament.
“I lost by two points in the blood round last season so that’s been on my mind, too,” Wilson said. “It’s written on my white board at home for motivation.”
Wilson, whose teammate Brayden Engelking won the 152-pound title, and Huff both were impressive on Saturday. No wrestler, however, was more impressive than Holy Family junior Hunter Branson as he blitzed through the 170-pound bracket on his way to the championship. When he was finished, Branson had picked up four pins in a total of 191 seconds of match time. In the finals, he pinned Platte Valley’s Ethan Malovich in 13 seconds.
Boulder freshman Joey Airola made his Gary Daum debut on Saturday and turned more than a few heads. He won the 106-pound championship, which wasn’t as surprising to him as it was to some spectators given his background of wrestling at the national level prior to arriving in high school.
“I’ve done club and I’ve gone to a lot of national stuff so I was ready,” Airola said. “High school wrestling is going OK so far. I’ve lost a couple matches that I shouldn’t have but I’m figuring it out.”
This year’s Gary Daum field was somewhat limited since several of the participating teams sent their top wrestlers to the Doc Buchanan Invitational in Clovis, Calif. Still, those teams largely held their own.
Despite sending six ranked-in-state wrestlers — Dillon Roman (106), Vince Cornella (113), Zach Hacker (126), Aidan Quinn (138), Keegan Feenstra (182) and Will Ponder (220) — to the Doc Buchanan, Monarch finished fourth in the team scoring. Without senior Drake Engelking, Colorado’s defending 4A 160-pound state champion, Longmont placed fifth.
Fort Morgan won the tournament with 194.5 team points and Elizabeth was second. The Skyline Falcons, who claimed the heavyweight title with senior Rickey Childers defeating sophomore teammate Oscar Aranday in the title match, placed third. Lyons didn’t win any individual titles but the Lions demonstrated their depth by placing fourth despite being one of the smaller schools in the field.
“Honestly, I’m really happy with how today went,” Lyons head coach Brandon Lohr said. “We had a great day and our guys are going to do some great things this year. It was a great tournament all-around.”
Gary Daum Classic
At Niwot H.S.
Team scores — Fort Morgan 194.5, Elizabeth 158, Skyline 123, Monarch 113, Longmont 99, Lyons 97.5, Platte Valley 96.5, Horizon 94, Rocky Mountain 90, Erie 89, Frederick 84.5, Greeley West 84.5, Boulder 71.5, Holy Family 69.5, Northridge 44, Aurora Central 32.5, Niwot 27, Vista PEAK 20, Silver Creek 8.
106 — Airola, Boulder, dec. Novara, Longmont, 8-2.
113 — Kramer, Elizabeth, dec. Beltran, Horizon, 6-2.
120 — Jones, Fort Morgan, dec. Kuykendall, Monarch, 3-2.
126 — Wilson, Longmont, dec. Bowman, Rocky Mountain, 8-4.
132 — Guzman, Horizon, dec. Erzen, Elizabeth, 4-3.
138 — Langford, Fort Morgan, dec. Carpenter, Northridge, 8-2.
145 — Ulaszek, Greeley West, pinned Gardner, Lyons, 5:04.
152 — Engelking, Longmont, maj. dec. Givens, Fort Morgan, 13-3.
160 — Lucas, Horizon, maj. dec. Unruh, Erie, 16-3.
170 — Branson, Holy Family, pinned Malovich, Platte Valley, 0:13.
182 — Paxton, Fort Morgan, pinned Morse, Elizabeth, 2:47.
195 — Leonard, Elizabeth, pinned Hesse, Skyline, 1:45.
220 — Hochanadel, Fort Morgan, pinned Dauenbaugh, Elizabeth, 5:42.
285 — Childers, Skyline, dec. Aranday, Skyline, 2:32.
106 — Velasquez, Greeley West, pinned Laughery, Skyline, 3:53.
113 — Jimenez, Frederick, maj. dec. Pickering, Lyons, 11-0.
120 — Lopez, Erie, pinned Carrillo, Frederick, 2:25.
126 — Luna, Fort Morgan, won by injury forfeit.
132 — Hoffman, Frederick, pinned Flores, Greeley West, 2:14.
138 — Bridwell, Skyline, dec. Fredericksmeyer, Monarch, 6-5.
145 — Niyongabo, Aurora Central, dec. Herrera, Longmont, 4-2.
152 — Szymanski, Holy Family, pinned Sidwell, Platte Valley, 3:16.
160 — Yancey, Platte Valley, dec. Cunningham, Northridge, 5-4.
170 — Ullery, Elizabeth, dec. Sovndal, Boulder, 4-2.
182 — Silva, Skyline, won by injury forfeit.
195 — Bean, Lyons, pinned Ferrera, Monarch, 0:24.
220 — Warner, Erie, pinned Tapia, Monarch, 2:40.
285 — Fiala, Monarch, pinned Juan Pablo, Fort Morgan, 2:28.