PUEBLO — Oran Huff doesn’t care much for the easy road.
The Lyons senior has definitively established himself as one of the top wrestlers in Colorado, regardless of the fact he competes in Class 2A, the state’s smallest classification. And the only way to do that is to face the stiffest competition possible.
On Friday night at the Southwest Motors Events Center, Huff won a 3-2 decision over undefeated Rye senior Michael Atencio in the 132-pound title bout. With the victory, Huff added his name to a short and exclusive list of three-time state champions in Colorado high school wrestling history.
Not only that, but beating Atencio, who also entered Friday night with two titles to his name, marked the second time Huff defeated a two-time champion in a state tournament title match.
“I live for those tough matches,” Huff said. “Those are the ones that I practice for and that’s when all the hard work comes in. It’s just what I train for and I’m always taught to want the tough match and not fear the tough opponent. You want to be able to just dig deep and enjoy that feeling.”
Huff certainly had to dig deep against Atencio, fighting to build a 3-1 lead in the second period after a scoreless first. Huff (21-1) controlled Atencio (14-1) until the Rye senior scored an escape with 18 seconds left, but the Lions’ three-timer was able to avoid Atencio’s last-ditch attempts at tying the match.
The historic matchup at state may also be an auspicious beginning to a lasting rivalry. Huff will wrestle at Colorado Mesa and Atencio is going to CSU-Pueblo, so the pair could very likely face one another in college.
“He’s a quality kid and we’ll probably see each other in college,” Huff said. “He’s the one I’ve been preparing for. I’ve seen him come up, same as I’ve been coming up, through the years. We’re in the same grade and we’ve seen each other around at state and seen each other do well. It’s going to be fun.”
Last season, Huff defeated Cedaredge’s Trey Geyer in the 126-pound championship match.
As for Lyons’ team effort, the Lions finished seventh in the 2A team scoring with just three wrestlers. David Gardner placed third at 145 pounds and Christian Keller placed fifth at 126 pounds.
Legacy’s Deherrera, Mead’s Joseph finish as runners-up in girls tourney
All those competing at the first-ever sanctioned girls wrestling state tournament formed a trailblazing group, and a couple of local grapplers emerged from that group with some hardware on Thursday.
Legacy’s Daysia Deherrera and Mead’s Jenna Joseph, who is a student at Longmont but wrestles with the SVVSD team, each finished second in their respective weight classes.
Deherrera, a senior, was runner-up at 215 pounds, reaching the finals before losing to Calhan’s Ciara Monger and finishing with a 18-3 record. Joseph, a junior, nearly went undefeated on the season, losing to Platte Valley’s Samantha Vasquez in the finals and ended the season with a 20-1 record.
Bach goes 2-1 to lead Holy Family at state
Bouncing back from an early defeat is one of the unique challenges the wrestling state tournament presents, and Holy Family’s Brayden Bach met that challenge on Friday.
After losing in the quarterfinals, Bach rebounded to win a 11-6 decision over Severance’s Devante Sisneros in the first round of the consolation bracket before eventually being eliminated in the consolation semifinals.
Tigers 120-pounder Logan Erickson and 195-pounder Benito Hernandez both lost in the championship quarterfinals and then again in the first round of the consolation bracket. Erickson was eliminated when he lost 7-3 to Valley’s Cristian Corral in his consolation match. Hernandez lost his final match at state via pinfall by Manitou Springs’ Wesley Reeves in the consolation bracket.