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Wrestling: Area grapplers’ road to state begins Friday

Holy Family, Broomfield and Legacy each hosting a regional

BROOMFIELD, CO - Broomfield High School's ...
Boulder Daily Camera file photo
Broomfield’s Darren Green and Legacy’s Joey Joiner, seen here in a dual in late January, will both be looking to advnace past regionals this weekend and into the state tournament, held Feb. 20-22 at the Pepsi Center.

While the area’s three returning state champs — Monarch’s Vince Cornella, Broomfield’s Darren Green and Lyons’ Oran Huff — would likely tell you how their return bid to the top of the high school wrestling landscape began long ago, the official path back to the Pepsi Center starts at one of the 16 regional tournaments across the state this Valentine’s Day weekend.

One way to the Denver finale will go through Holy Family, which will show off some of its new additions to the school as a first-time host. Others will try to emerge out of the area’s other regionals at Broomfield and Legacy.

Said Tigers coach Jason Pedigo: “There’s a comfort to having regionals at home. Just because the guys get to sleep in their own beds before the tournament, they’re just a little bit more comfortable being in their own homes. And then they’re just so familiar with their school and the surroundings that they just have that comfort level.”

As part of Holy Family’s new digs, it redid its main gymnasium and added an auxiliary gym and a state-of-the art weight room. For the 14-team regional, Pedigo said two mats will go in the main gym while another mat and a warmup mat will go at the same time in the aux gym.

Jefferson, ranked 3A’s No. 2 team in the latest On the Mat rankings from Tim Yount, is the expected favorite with four top-ranked wrestlers in the classification. Holy Family’s Hunter Branson, meanwhile, is the top-ranked wrestler in the region’s 170-pound class — and second in 3A overall — as he looks to get back to the Pepsi Center after falling in the state semifinals a year ago.

In 4A Region 2, Broomfield has two of the classes top-ranked wrestlers in Green (145) and Bryant Walker (220) as well as the highest OTM 4A ranking in its region at 4A No. 4.

More than that, though, Eagles coach Adrian Green said he’s particularly excited because it’ll be just the second time this season that his entire varsity roster is on the mat at once.

The other, he said, was at Top of the Rockies, where Broomfield took second.

“I’m liking that the most,” said coach Green, whose team is expected to be at full-strength after illnesses, among other things, left the Eagles short-handed much the year. “They work hard and give a lot of effort. I think they’re ready.”

Erie’s Rudy Lopez (4A No. 1 113), Broomfield’s John Beau Hostler (No. 2 132), Longmont’s John Nicholas (No. 3 138), Longmont’s Brayden Engelking (No. 3 152), Broomfield’s Morgen Watt (No. 6 195) and Broomfield’s Tyler Carpenter (No. 2 285) are some of the other top ranked wrestlers in the region, per OTM.

In 5A Region 2, Monarch has a tournament-best four wrestlers with top seeds in their region in Matt Fasbender (ranked eighth in 5A 106), Dillon Roman (No. 4 113), Cornella (No. 1 126) and Nathan Fitzpatrick (No. 2 160). Legacy’s Joey Joiner, meanwhile, leads the region’s 145 class as the 5A No.2-ranked wrestler.

Reese Lehman, left, of Frederick, loses ...
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Skyline’s Oscar Aranday, right, is a contender for a regional title and state tournament bid this weekend.

Elsewhere, Lyons has three wrestlers ranked highest in their respective weight class in 2A Region 4. Huff (No. 2 126s), David Gardner (No. 4 145s) and Karson Bean (No. 1 195s) are all looking to get back on the state podium.

Boulder’s Joey Airola (5A No. 3 113) is the top seed at 5A Region 1 at Cherokee Trail, where Pomona owns eight of the region’s top 14 ranks. Mead’s Roman Salaz (4A No. 7 113) and Skyline’s Oscar Aranday (No. 5 285) are top ranks at 4A Region 3 at Windsor.

Who is where?

2A Region 4: Lyons (hosted by Rocky Ford at Otero Junior College)

3A Region 3: Holy Family (at Holy Family)

4A Region 2: Broomfield, Longmont and Erie (at Broomfield)

4A Region 3: Skyline, Mead, Niwot, Frederick and Silver Creek (at Windsor)

5A Region 1: Boulder (at Cherokee Trail)

5A Region 2: Legacy and Monarch (at Legacy)

5A Region 3: Fairview and Centaurus (at Fort Collins)