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Joey Airola of Boulder looks for ...
Daily Camera file photo
Joey Airola will be sporting Boulder purple again after the Panthers combined with Fairview last season.

Team by team outlook

Class 5A

Coach: Will LeBoeuf
The scorecard: The Panthers begin the season with a brand new wrestling room to train in, and LeBoeuf is feeling confident in his small group of boys. They welcome back a high-level athlete in No. 3 Joey Airola (132), who wrestled for Fairview last season because Boulder didn’t have a team. He finished fourth in the state tournament. He’ll help lead the team alongside senior Tyler Daniels (138) and junior Dakota Hess (160). LeBoeuf believes at least three of them can qualify for state.

Coach: Arturo Mata
The scorecard: As Warriors old and new contribute to the success of the program, they’ll mostly lean on guys like seniors Nicholas Copanas (132), Alex Robles (182), Charles Halsell (160) and sophomore heavyweight Xavier Valentin-Bradford to guide them throughout the year. Out of the four, Copanas is the only returner from last season. Each athlete in the training room brings something unique to the team, and that makes Mata excited for what’s to come.

Coach: Jim Opperman
The scorecard: The Knights welcome a young team to the mat this year, but will have a few boys to rely on to carry them forward with Ben Anderson (ranked 11th at 5A 160), Angus Matheson (182), Kaden Werkmeister (152) and Sam Benton (195). They said goodbye to Joey Airola, who placed fourth in last year’s tournament but will look to guidance from Benton and Anderson after they placed at regionals in the 2021 season.

Coach: Michael Thompson
The scorecard: The Lightning will field a young squad this season but will have leadership from seniors Gavin Funk (ranked 5A No. 3 at 195), Andrew Ernst, and sophomores, Brennon Joiner (eighth at 132) and Quinn Funk (12th at 160) to guide the newer additions. Gavin Funk, who qualified for the state tournament last season, won the National Beach Wrestling Tournament and placed seventh at the preseason Nationals to become a high school All-American. Thompson is looking forward to utilizing a more traditional season to help the newcomers grow.

Coach: Ezra Paddock
The scorecard: The Coyotes look dangerous this year as they welcome back four state placers in junior Emilio Trujillo-Deen (third, 132), senior Dillon Roman (third, 138), junior Matt Fasbender (fifth, 145) and senior Cole Carlucci (fifth, 182). They’ll look to improve upon those marks come February alongside the talents of seniors, Brayden Legge (ranked 11th at 126), Charlie Williams (170) and Zach Ferrera (195). Paddock believe those three also have what it takes to challenge for medals this year.

Class 4A
Coach: James Zechmann
The scorecard: The Eagles return a Class 4A state champion at 145 pounds in second-ranked senior Ryan Vigil, who won his title with a 3-0 decision over Erie’s Rudy Lopez. He’ll be joined by senior state runner-up Morgen Watt (220) as well as regional placers, sophomores No. 12 Cody Tanner (fourth, 106), No. 12 Trevor Hermosillo (third, 126) and senior Matthew Balzano (fourth, 152). Zechmann looks forward to the leadership and experience that the senior class will bring to the mats for a new season.

Coach: Joe Ferrera
The scorecard: The expectations are high for fifth-ranked senior Noah Lopez (120), who finished fifth at the state tournament as a sophomore but ended his freshman and junior seasons prematurely due to injury. He’ll be joined by junior Ramon Salazar (4A No. 1 at 126) who finished runner-up and, thanks in part to his efforts, Erie nabbed eighth place as a team. Seniors, Gavin Malek (No. 2 at 195) and Michael Brazeau (No. 4 at 170) rounded out that effort with third- and fifth-place finishes in their respective weight classes.

Coach: Anthony Medina
The scorecard: The Warriors return a state placer in ninth-ranked senior Alex Carrillo (132), who finished fourth at 113s last season. Medina will look to him to carry the torch for Frederick as the Warriors welcome a strong freshman class. He coached the program first as an assistant and now as a head honcho and believes the team is one of the best he’s seen. He hopes that Carrillo, along with the freshmen, can transform the Warriors into a regional powerhouse.

Coach: Matt Engelking
The scorecard: The Trojans welcome a very young team for the 2021-22 season, meaning there will be plenty of room for growth through experience. Their top returners include seniors Malakai Pinson (126), Sam Adams (195), juniors Seth Hagerdorn (170), Silas Nowlin (160) and sophomore Hunter Knight (182). Now, they’re a year older and wiser on the mat.

Coach: Ty Tatham
The scorecard: The Mavericks return a state placer in third-ranked sophomore Jake Glade (138/132) who, as a freshman, finished fifth at 120 lbs. with a 5-4 decision over Lewis Palmer’s Isiah Blackmon. They’ll also rely on the talents of sophomore, Will Guerra (4A No. 16 at 126), Vinko Villavicencio (eighth at 120), Kannon Garcia (145), Dalton Berg (fifth at 170), juniors Gage Duestch (113), Jake Gordon (182/195), and seniors Victor Salazar (132/126) and Thomas Tatham (285).

Coach: Bobby Matthews
The scorecard: The Cougars will see big changes in their returning wrestlers as ninth-ranked senior Bryce Nemec dropped 65 lbs. in the offseason to weigh in at 220 and sophomore Gavin Burrage dropped 40 to place himself at 182. Other returners include sophomore Ben Rauschkolb (195), senior Jose Sosa (120) and junior Vithal Arya (145) as Niwot looks forward to having a full roster with the shot of sending some guys to state.

Coach: Chris Blair
The Scorecard: The Raptors are feeling heightened excitement and confidence as they welcome three times as many wrestlers as they housed last year. Early on, they’ll lean on the leadership of seniors Ben Hyman (138), Rodrigo Ordonez-Enriquez (170), junior Alexander Pheneger (152) and 16th-ranked senior Pepi Dostal, who’s willing to fill in wherever he’s needed. The Raptors look forward to a full year on the mat and that determination has been driving them in practices leading up to the season.

Coach: Mike Silva
The scorecard: The Falcons return a strong core of boys who performed well for them last season. Now, they’re a year wiser after junior Calvin Mendez (No. 4 at 113) finished fifth at state, junior Maddox Leggett (seventh at 170) took third at regionals, junior Fredo Gonzalez (132) placed third at regionals and sophomore Josiah Lopez (152) rounded out the regional effort at fourth. Junior Breaden Hufford (13th at 120) comes back after injury ended his season prematurely as a couple talented freshmen in Tobias Pinson (15th at 126) and Brody Hufford (ninth at 106) join him.

Class 3A
Coach: Jason Pedigo
The scorecard: The Tigers are looking forward to embracing a bigger team this season that will be led by sophomores Brayden Bach (No. 1 at 3A 106), Lorenzo Avila (113), Abram Moore (eighth at 220); seniors Matt McCarthy (sixth at 120), Alex Austin (14th at 170) and freshman Camden Austin (195). The Tigers return a state placer in Bach (sixth) as well as regional placers with Moore (fourth) and Alex Austin (third), who transferred from Erie after last season.

Class 2A
Coach: Gary Gantzer
The scorecard: Lyons mats a strong team but returns a strong nucleus of boys to build upon. Fourteenth-ranked sophomore Hunter Powell qualified for the state tournament but missed out on the competition due to a fractured back. Gantzer expects him to stand on the podium at state. Sophomore Jaden Gardner placed fourth at regionals but, because of the COVID restrictions, did not qualify for state. Junior Lochlan Osborne has shown great improvement and should qualify for the postseason.

Girls teams
Coach: Katherine Shai
The scorecard: The Eagles may be new to the girls wrestling game in their inaugural season, but they’ll have two ladies to lean on through the uncharted waters. Junior Sydney Wu (136) is switching over to girls wrestling after spending her first two seasons with Fairview boys wrestling. She’ll be joined by sophomore varsity starters Sam White (147) and Nadia Rebholtz-Herrera (127). Luckily, the ladies will have a world-class wrestler in Shai to guide them into the future.

Coach: Rusty Lamb
The scorecard: The Lightning may be young this year, but they have plenty of leadership to guide their large number of wrestlers to success. They lost a lot of talented ladies from the inaugural season of the CHSAA-sanctioned sport but look forward to what they can do during a season that’s not stunted by COVID restrictions. The Lightning will look to sixth-ranked senior Briana Rodriguez (161), who placed third at regionals last season and qualified for the state tournament.

Jenna Joseph
Daily Camera file photo
Mead’s Jenna Joseph

Coach: Rachel Salaz
The Scorecard: The Mavericks take pride in the role they’re playing to help grow the sport of girls wrestling in Colorado. In its first year of sanctioned existence in Colorado, Mead already hopped off to a great start when Jenna Joseph, now a senior ranked second at her weight, placed second at the state tournament at the beginning of 2021 and won regionals not long before at 161 lbs. As a freshman, Frances Hudson placed fourth at regionals at 111 and will look to do more damage in her second year as she is ranked fifth.

Note: All individual rankings are taken from Tim Yount’s On the Mat service. 

Point me to the postseason
Four wrestlers at each weight at each regional across four classifications will qualify for the state championships, which will take place Feb. 17-19, 2022.

Cream of the crop: 2021 All-region team
First Team (Name, 2020-21 class, school )
Calvin Mendez, So., Skyline; Alex Carrillo, Jr., Frederick; Ramon Salazar, So., Erie; Dillon Roman, Jr. Monarch; Oran Huff, Sr., Lyons; Vince Cornella, Sr., Monarch; Ryan Vigil, Jr., Broomfield; David Gardner, Sr., Lyons; Grayden Bridwell, Sr., Skyline; Michael Brazeau, Jr., Erie; Cole Carlucci, Jr., Monarch; Alex Austin, Jr., Erie; Gavin Malek, Jr., Erie; Morgen Watt, Jr., Broomfield; Oscar Aranday, Sr., Skyline.

Honorable mention
Joey Airola, Jr., Fairview; Ben Anderson, Jr., Fairview; Brayden Bach, Fr., Holy Family; Gigi Bakradze, Sr., Centaurus; Matthew Balzano, Jr., Broomfield; Beau Bernard, Sr., Legacy; Dilan Bridwell, So., Skyline; Logan Erickson, Sr., Holy Family; Daysia Deherrera, Sr., Legacy; Zeke Elder, Sr., Monarch;
Michael Espindola, Jr., Frederick; Matthew Fasbender, So., Monarch; Zach Ferrera, Jr., Monarch; Gavin Funk, Jr., Legacy; Quinn Funk, Fr., Legacy; Jaden Gardner, Fr., Lyons; JT Gardner, Sr., Frederick; Dominik Gendreau, So., Monarch; Jake Glade, Fr., Mead; Alfredo Gonzalez, So., Skyline; Randy Guerra, Sr., Mead; Trevor Hermosillo, Fr., Broomfield; Benito Hernandez, Sr., Holy Family; Frances Hudson, So., Mead; Brennon Joiner, Fr., Legacy; Jenna Joseph, Jr., Mead; Christian Keller, Sr., Lyons; Blake Komiski, Jr., Longmont; Maddoz Legget, So., Skyline; Rudy Lopez, Sr., Erie; Cordey Mallo, Sr., Legacy; Matthew McCarthy, Jr., Holy Family; Abram Moore, Fr., Holy Family; Logan Odell, Sr., Lyons; Garrett Roberts, Sr., Lyons; Brianna Rodriguez, Jr., Legacy; Cody Tanner, Fr., Broomfield; Alex Tapia, Sr., Monarch; Emilio Trujillo-Deen, So., Monarch; Lola Valdez, Sr., Legacy.

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