A month after briefly getting nixed due to concerns surrounding the pandemic, the local high school wrestling season has nearly completed its regular season. In this case, whirlwind is not an exaggeration.
Over the past month, area wrestlers saw their season canceled only to have it brought back with rigid restrictions. What followed were numbers in local programs reported as down, while match forfeits were up. The condensed season as a whole saw zero large tournaments and fewer matches across the board.
What it leaves now are more glaring unknowns than ever before with regionals set to begin the first week of March followed by the state tournament. With less wrestlers facing off in weight classes, and thereby less to analyze, seeding in both will be more difficult.
In previous seasons, per On The Mat’s Tim Yount, wrestlers needed to have at least 15 matches coming into regionals or the remainder would count as “ghost losses” and affect their position. This year there is no such rule, leaving something of a dilemma.
“You have a 4-2 record with one more dual to wrestle,” Yount said as an example in his ranking email. “Do you wrestle the kid to get to 5-2 or not compete and lose very important mat time?”
With plenty of questions marks, here are On The Mat’s ranked wrestlers with the regular season winding down.
OTM’s latest rankings include 35 area wrestlers in the boys’ division. Monarch has an area-high seven in Class 5A, while 4A Erie, Skyline and 2A Lyons each have five.
Broomfield, meanwhile, has four in. Frederick has three, Mead two. Holy Family has two in 3A and Fairview has a pair in 5A.
Vince Cornella, the senior who’ll be going for his fourth state title next month, is, of course, first in the 5A 138s for Monarch. Dillon Roman, Dominik Gendreau and Zach Ferrera, in the mean time, have each won all 10 of their matches this season for the Coyotes. Roman is ranked second in 126s, Gendreau ninth in 145s and Ferrera eighth in 220s. Elsewhere for them, Emilio Trujillo is fifth in 120s, Cole Carlucci is seventh in 170s and Noah Pearson is 13th in 113s.
At Fairview, Joey Airola is 6-0 and ranked third in 132s. The junior is one of five Boulder wrestlers who joined the Knights’ program because the Panthers are without one this season. He was fifth last season in 113s and second in 106s in 2019. His teammate, Ben Cronin, is 2-2 and ninth in 160s.
In 2A, back-to-back state champ Oran Huff is ranked first in 132s. He lost to Strasburg’s Zach Marrero in a matchup of the top-ranked 2A and 3A wrestlers in the class, then won his next 11 — eight by fall, three by forfeit. Along with him, David Gardner, who was the runner-up in the 145 finals a season ago, is 11-0 and ranked second. The Lions also have Christian Keller (11-1), who is seventh in 126s, Logan Odell (10-2), ninth in 160s, and Dequlyn Keller (9-2), 10th in 152s.
In 4A, 19 wrestlers from the area are in the rankings.
Defending champ Rudy Lopez has won all six of his matches and is ranked first in 138s for Erie. He pinned Centaurus’ Jack Parana, Skyline’s Lennon Lusk, Fort Morgan’s Emmanuel Garcia and Riverdale Ridge’s Rony Sawaged in less than a minute. He also won by technical fall over Frederick’s Logan Rangel.
Rudy’s brother, Noah Lopez, is second in 113s for the Tigers, while Gavin Malex (sixth in 195s), Ramon Salazar (ninth 126s) and Michael Brazeau (13th 160s) are ranked as well.
Then there’s Oscar Aranday of Skyline. He has won all 10 of his matches, half by forfeit and half by pin. He’s ranked second in 285s after finishing sixth at state a season ago. Elsewhere for the Falcons: Maddox Leggett is seventh in 170s, Grayden Bridwell is ninth in 160s, brother Dilan Bridwell is 12th in 120s and Andrew Sandoval is ninth in 152s.
For Broomfield, which led all teams with a third-place finish at state a season ago, is led by Ryan Vigil, who is ranked fifth in 138s. The junior is 7-0 this season after placing fifth at last year’s state tournament in 126s. Morgen Watt also slates in at fifth for the Eagles with a 6-1 record in 220s. Vince Beeson is 13th in 152s and AJ Wheeler is 4-2 and 10th in 285s.
For Frederick, Alex Carrillo is 11-0 and ranked sixth in 113s. JT Gardner is 10-1 and 12th in 132s and Justin Dean is 6-5 and 13th in 120s.
For Mead, Jake Glade is ranked in ninth in 120s, Randy Guerra is 10th in 132s. Glade is 11-0 and Guerra is 10-1.
In 3A, Matthew McCarthy and Benito Hernandez are listed for Holy Family. McCarthy, one of the three triplet brothers on the team, is 7-3 and ranked ninth in 120s. Hernandez is 3-0 and ranked 12th in 220s.
In girls, Legacy has seven in the rankings by OTM, while Mead has two.
Alyssa Cortez (100) and Cordey Mallo (118) are both ranked second for the Lightning. Cortez is 6-3 and Mallo is 11-0. Daysia DeHerrera is fifth in 215s, Madison Farris is seventh in 185s, Lola Valdez is 10th in 105s, Chloe Castaneda is 10th in 161s and Brianna Rodriguez is 12th in 147s.
Mead’s Jenna Joseph is 10-0 and ranked fourth in 161s. She placed sixth at state in 136s last season. Kassandra Reyes is ranked 15th in 118s for the Mavs.