BROOMFIELD – After what happened at regionals last year, Broomfield’s Ryan Vigil wasn’t going to let anything stand between him and the state tournament this winter.
Vigil showed up to last year’s regional round as a top-ranked freshman. He also showed up above the weight cutoff and was disqualified. It was devastating how much opportunity was wasted that day, and that gut-wrenching feeling has lingered in Vigil’s stomach for a year.
As a sophomore this season, Vigil has torn through his competition and showed up to the Class 4A Region 2 tournament on Saturday with a seething determination that bordered on recklessness.
Immediately after splitting his eyebrow open during a thrilling come-from-behind semifinals victory over Loveland’s Cody Thompson in a matchup that could repeat itself in the late rounds of next week’s state tournament at the Pepsi Center, Vigil went to a nearby hospital where he received six stitches to close the wound. He showed back up at Broomfield High to pin Pueblo West’s Kobi Montano in the finals and claim the region’s top 126-pound seed into next weekend’s event.
“Last season, that was awful,” Vigil said. “But it feels amazing to come back and just win. That was always in the back of my mind, thinking about what I lost last season. Everything I did today was about making up for that.”
The hospital staff advised Vigil that he was at a high risk of reopening his head wound if he continued to wrestle on Saturday. Still, with his head heavily bandaged in the finals, he pinned Montano in four minutes.
Perhaps even more than the regional title, the real highlight for Vigil, and the fans, was defeating Thompson in the semifinals. Vigil fell behind early and trailed Thompson, who only days prior dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 in Tim Yount’s On The Mat rankings, 4-1 after the first period. Vigil, who is ranked No. 3, tied the match with an escape and a takedown in the third and won it, 7-4, with a three-point near-fall in the third.
“Man, that semis was a battle,” Vigil said. “My eye was bleeding pretty bad after we both shot at the same time, so I had to get that cleaned up. I knew that match was a toss-up but I just kept believing. My coaches believed in me, the fans did, and that’s why I won.”
Despite Vigil’s heroics and placing first in seven of 14 weight classes, the Broomfield Eagles finished runners-up by 35.5 points to Pueblo West for the team championship. Eagles John Beau Hostler (132), defending state champion Darren Green (145), Antonio Welch-Soto (182), Morgen Watt (195), Bryant Walker (220), Tyler Carpenter (285) and Vigil all won their brackets.
Paced by regional titles from 138-pounder John Nicholas and 152-pounder Brayden Engelking, the Longmont Trojans finished fourth as a team.
Nicholas just reached the 4A state podium in sixth place at 120s last winter but moved up to the more natural 138-pound weight class this season. With designs on climbing even higher next week, Saturday’s regional title gave Trojans senior confidence that he has done all the right things in order to make it happen.
“It makes me feel really good to get that extra seeding bonus because that should really help me out,” Nicholas said. “My goal is to get to the finals this year. We’ll see how that goes but I’m feeling really confident after this tournament and all the extra work I put in over the summer.”
Led by 113-pound regional champion Rudy Lopez, the Erie Tigers placed fifth behind Longmont.