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Wrestling: Monarch eyes some normalcy at Top of the Rockies

One of the top wrestling tournaments in the state returns

Erie's Ramon Salazar competes against Jefferson's ...
Daily Camera file photo
Erie’s Ramon Salazar could be one of the premier wrestlers to compete at this weekend’s Top of the Rockies tournament at Centaurus High.

The rubber-coated wrestling mats, the twisted arms, the bumps and bruises, they feel like a haven for so many Monarch wrestlers as they prepare for the prestigious Top of the Rockies invitational.

“A bit of normalcy,” longtime Coyotes coach Ezra Paddock called it by phone this week. Not much else around town has been close to that.

Paddock, whose team practiced at Broomfield High School in the days following the holiday break, while its school was closed due to the Marshall Fire, will now lead his team into this weekend’s festivities at Centaurus High School.

He continues to push a team forward while so many are still left picking up the pieces.

“We had three team members lose their homes and it has just affected everyone,” Paddock said. “But honestly, I have to give credit to the kids and our coaches. They’ve kind of used it to bond together and they’ve used wrestling as a bit of normalcy.”

The tournament, a year after it was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions, will showcase 16 ranked teams per Tim Yount’s On the Mat as well as a large chunk of the best wrestlers in the state.

The Coyotes, ranked fourth in Class 5A, will be joined by seven other top-10 teams in their classification, including No. 1 Pomona, No. 2 Ponderosa and No. 3 Adams City.

Six of the top 10 from Class 4A are also expected, including No. 8 Broomfield and No. 10 Erie. Other area teams listed to attend are Boulder, Centaurus, Holy Family and Legacy.

“It’s one of our favorites,” Paddock said. “It’s especially the kids’ favorite events of the year because it’s a big state preview. Most of the good teams in the state are there, so our kids look forward to it. And we didn’t get to do it last year so it’s been a couple years removed. It’s been a really good distraction.”

For many, the event should be seen as a prelude in front of regionals in three weeks.

The last showing of the Top of the Rockies, in 2020, came away with area winners in Monarch’s Vince Cornella (126 pounds), Broomfield’s Darren Green (145s) and Monarch’s Nathan Fitzpatrick (170s).

Cornella went on to win his third state title that year, then fourth a year later. Green won his second straight and Fitzpatrick went on to eclipse 40 wins in 2020 and took state silver in 160s.

For others, though, it’ll have to be something to behold from the stands. The coaches from Monarch and Broomfield each said they will be missing guys from their varsity lineups.

“I’ve got a ton of kids banged up and injured,” Broomfield coach Jimmy Zechmann said. “That’s the bad thing, but I’m super excited for (Friday). That’s a great tournament. I just wish we were a little healthier.”

This year’s matches will start at 1 p.m. Friday. Finals are expected to run from about 6-9 p.m. Saturday.