The state wrestling championship is just five weeks away. And while you'd have to travel to the Front Range to see those games, KVNF’s Tamie Meck reports that there are several opportunities in the coming days to see some of the best wrestlers in the state close to home.
Defending state champion, the Paonia Eagles wrestling team, is again favored to claim the class 2A title in February. The team is already on a roll: Paonia placed first at the Warrior Classic tournament at Central High School in December. And last Saturday, Paonia earned five championship titles and earned 257 points to win the Montrose Invitational. Josh Altman claimed the title at 106 pounds. In the upper weights, Will Austin, Tyler Kendall, Joel Simianer and heavyweight Tony Darling went undefeated for the title.
Returning state champion Jesse Reed is back on the mat after sustaining a knee injury in the final football game of the season. Reed expects to make a full recovery. In his first week back, the 120-pound sophomore was No. 1 in On the Mat rankings. Reed defeated fourth-ranked Jeremiah Banuelos of Montrose by a 4-3 decision in the semifinals, and lost by a 6-1 decision to undefeated Trenton Piatt of Olathe to place second at Montrose.
The host Montrose Indians placed in eight weight classes and finished third with 142 points. Two wrestlers, 113-pound junior Emmanuel Sandoval and 160-pound Marcus Velasquez, placed first for the Indians. It was the third tournament win for Velasquez, who excited to be named the tournament's outstanding wrestler in the upper weights for the first time.
"It was the first one I've ever gotten. It feels great. It's just always a tough tournament and I finally came up on top," says Velasquez.
Velasquez, a senior whose record includes sixth- and fourth-place finishes at state, is now 20 and 1 and ranked first in state On the Mat rankings. Montrose defeated Pueblo West, 48-28, last week. They wrestle this week at Alameda High School.
Delta had a 50-23 dual against Rifle on Thursday. They placed 10th overall at the 48-team Tournament of Champions in Vernal, Utah. The Panthers compete at Alamosa this weekend.
There are several opportunities to catch some local wrestling action in the coming days.
Hotchkiss duals at Paonia tonight at 6. And Cedaredge hosts Paonia Friday night at 6. The annual Paonia Mixed Duals and Screaming Eagle Tournament will take place on January 25th and 26th. Also on January 25th, Hotchkiss hosts Olathe at 6 p.m.
And switching to basketball, Lane Clawson had 12 rebounds and Josiah Spano scored 25 points in Paonia's recent 66-59 win over Rangely. Mandy Bushta scored 18 points in the Lady Eagles' 54-35 win over Rangely. Both teams open conference play this weekend and will host Hayden on Saturday. The girls tip-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at Paonia High School, followed by the boys game.
The Hotchkiss boys are now at 7-3 and the girls are at 7-2 heading into weekend play. They host conference games against Hayden Friday, with the girls game tipping off at 6. They play Soroco on Saturday starting at 4.
Ridgway hosts Mancos Friday night. Montrose is at Grand Junction.