LAFAYETTE — For area wrestlers competing at Centaurus High School on Saturday, it felt more than just a day to prove themselves. To many, it felt like the swing point in their seasons.
The final day at the Top of the Rockies tournament is no time to mess about. And of the seven area teams that competed in the two-day event, a total of 11 wrestlers from five schools reached the placing rounds.
A look at how some of the top wrestlers fared:
Legacy’s Funk leads the way, takes third-place at 190
Quinn Funk’s wrestling form is anything but in a funk. Quite the opposite, in fact. On Saturday, he was able to wrestle his way to a third-place finish at the 190-pound bracket — the best placement out of area wrestlers — and improved his record to 31-3 on the season.
Funk, ranked No. 2 at 190 in Class 5A according to the latest On The Mat rankings, won his first two matches by pin and while he lost the quarterfinal bout in a 4-2 decision, in the wrestle-backs, he was dominant. Funk beat Billy Lawton of Moffat County in a 7-0 decision, then pinned Max Kibbee of Grandview and Trevor Eldridge of Cheyenne East to set up a third-place bout. In the biggest test of the night, he beat Justin Cullen of Pomona in a 5-4 decision.
The performance typified the hard work that his Lightning teammates put in all afternoon, as they finished eighth in the team standings with 95 points, the highest total of any area school.
“I’m definitely putting in more work, and guys are definitely a lot heavier and stronger,” Funk said. “It’s harder to finish shots, but, overall it’s not a whole lot different. I enjoy it.”
His third-place match was typical of that he will see at the league, regional and state tournaments in the coming weeks.
“I knew I had to keep attacking and knew I couldn’t make stupid mistakes,” Funk continued. “I knew I could win if I kept at it.”
Funk capped off a strong Saturday for Legacy, as Matthew Clifton at 113 took fifth-place in a win via injury forfeit to improve to 29-7, while Brennon Joiner (29-8 at 132s) got the best in an overtime bout with Boulder’s Abraham Pomeroy.
MoHi’s Trujillo-Deen reaches 100 career wins
Monarch’s Emilio Trujillo-Deen reached the century mark for wins at the high school level. The senior left the Top of the Rockies anything but satisfied with a fifth-place finish at 144 pounds.
“I took some losses that mentally I wasn’t here today,” Trujillo-Deen said. “People talk about the physical battles of wrestling, but it’s just as mental. I train my body all the time physically and I don’t train my mind mentally as much. That’s where I slipped today. I had some mental slips in every match today and I really hope to improve that by state. There’s always next week and I want to improve and learn from today.”
Trujillo-Deen (29-4) entered Saturday as the top-ranked wrestler in his weight class, but a pair of late losses, a 3-2 decision to Killian Schultz of Severence, and a 6-4 loss to Cheyenne East’s Liam Fox, meant he ultimately wrestled for fifth.
“It feels pretty good (to reach 100 wins), wrestling for four years,” he said. “You kind of forget about the achievements you have until it’s in front of you.”
Two others placed for the Coyotes, as Dominik Grendeau took fifth by way of a medical forfeit but still won four times to improve to 23-7, while at heavyweights, Jimmy Grace also won his fifth-place match to improve to 20-5.
Erie’s Brendan Young ready to roll in to postseason even with deceptive record
Brendan Young admitted Saturday: His record is deceptive.
After finishing in fourth place at the 2022 state wrestling championships, the Erie senior is up 20 pounds from football season and is in a totally different weight class. Even while battling a torn labrum, he’s loving the competition.
Young rallied behind a strong afternoon to take fourth place in the 165-pound bracket. For Young, dealing with the challenges of a separated shoulder has been difficult. Yet, at 12-7 on the year, he is eager to prove that he’s better than his record shows.
“It is (deceptive), I’ve been to a bunch of hard tournaments, I was out of shape earlier in the season and my shoulder’s been bugging me,” Young said. “Still, it’s really nice to add some more wins today. I started the season really, really poor. I’ve really been on the incline and I hope to keep improving every single day of practice.”
Knowing what it took to finish fourth last year at 145 pounds, he has embraced the crunch time of the season.
“(State) is honestly one of the most magical things there is,” Young said. “I’m working my way and feel that I am right there. Seeing the other kids in my bracket who placed, most of them were seniors. I got another year and have worked as hard as I can. Seeing this competition today has been great.”
Boulder’s Pomeroy looks to learn from pair of overtime defeats
Boulder’s Abraham Pomeroy learned a pair of valuable lessons from two heartbreaking overtime defeats Saturday: Shoot first, and always go 100% on finishing out his moves.
The sophomore finished sixth at the 132-pound weight class as he lost his consolation semifinal to Grandview’s Gunner Lopez, 4-2, in the closing seconds. In the fifth-place match, he attacked first against Legacy’s Brennon Joiner, but was unable to complete his move, and Joiner turned it into a two-point takedown to secure the win.
Even with his overtime losses, Pomeroy took a lot away from the tournament.
“The confidence piece is the biggest takeaway for me,” Pomeroy said. “I came here unsure of where I stand against these top-ranked kids, but now I know I’m right there.”
Pomeroy (21-7), who missed out on late-season wrestling last year because of a torn meniscus, said he battled back in the summer and is now ready for the last push before the state tournament.
“Coming into this year, it’s been really fun because I finally feel the success now as I didn’t get to feel it last year. … From here on, I want to finish my matches happier and knowing I gave it my all,” he said.
Also for Boulder, Will Everson (26-5) took fifth at 157 pounds as he defeated Alex Sommer of Greeley West by way of a medical forfeit. After earning a first-round bye, the senior pinned Brett Lamb of Poudre and defeated Austin Ley of Brush 7-2 for his other wins.
Broomfield’s Cody Tanner holds on to fifth
It was a nervy finish for Eagles junior Cody Tanner, but when it mattered most, he got the job done.
The 120-pounder rode out the decisive third period against Cheyenne Central (Wyo.) High School’s Wyatt Weiss in the fifth-place match to secure a 2-1 victory. After falling in his opening match, he moved into the consolation side of the bracket. It suited him just fine, as he went 6-1, which included a pair of pins. He narrowly lost a 2-1 decision to A.J. Hague of Riverdale Ridge, which set up his fifth-place finale.
“The tournament was really nice and I was pleased with how I bounced back after I lost my first match,” Tanner said. “Being on the backside, I knew I had to come out strong and was looking forward to the next match.”
In his placing match, it was a textbook example of how to defend. When Weiss tried to attack, Tanner didn’t budge. He is now 14-7 on the season and is looking to end the season at his own pace, which could be big if he can make a run come the postseason.
“Last season I peaked too early and this year, I’m taking it slow,” he said. “Now I’m feeling confident in January and into February. Last year I got burned out of the sport a bit. This year, I’m really building up to work on my technique, my wrestling and I’m not looking to win 10 tournaments in the season — I wanna win the final.”
At heavyweights, Mars Soto took sixth-place, as the junior is now 7-2 on the season. Recording four wins by pinfall, Soto eventually bowed out to Monarch’s Grace in the fifth-place final.
For plenty of schools, league championship meets will be up next, with regional tournaments set for Feb. 10-11th.