Smith's one-point win helps Paonia win 2A regional title12 Feb 2017
gjsentinel.com/ By Dale Shrull
It came down to one point. Paonia’s Trevor Smith won his heavyweight match by one point over Meeker’s Tyler Ilgen on Saturday, which gave the Eagles the Class 2A Region 1 tournament team title by one point over the Cowboys, 201-200. The regional, which included six of the top 10 ranked teams in 2A, lived up to its billing with seven different schools winning at least one individual title. Paonia and Hotchkiss led the way with three individual titles each, with Meeker getting two after advancing seven wrestlers to the finals.“I think we’re just a well-balanced team, we don’t have any real superstars, just a bunch of kids who are above-average battlers and they work hard and want to win,” Paonia coach Andy Pipher said. Early in the season, not many people would have given Paonia a chance to win a regional team title but Pipher said the Eagles have become a good team.“We are way better, these kids have improved so much, they’ve really worked hard at it,” Pipher said.
With all the points coming via escapes in the heavyweight title match, Smith pried himself away from Ilgen to get the 3-2 overtime win, then the Paonia senior celebrated with his coaches and teammates. “I knew it was going to come down to the very end, and one of us was going to pull it out, and I was hoping it would be me,” he said. Smith started the year at 220 pounds, then briefly moved down to 195, before shifting to heavyweight a little more than a week ago. In one of the day’s best matchups, Meeker’s Sheridan Harvey pinned Paonia sophomore Sackett Chesnik at 138. “I know he’s a great wrestler and anytime I see that he’s on my side of the bracket, I know it’s going to be a battle,” Harvey said.
Harvey, a senior who took over the No. 1 ranking with an earlier win over Chesnik, said he’s not concerned with where he’s ranked. “Our coach told us about halfway through the season, ‘No more looking at the rankings. They don’t matter, they’re good for parents but they don’t mean anything.’ “ “I’m confident but I’m not going to let off the gas pedal. I still have something to prove,” said Harvey, who placed fifth at state last year. The finals started and ended with Paonia titles.Zeb Etter pinned Cedaredge’s Ryan Imhoff at 106 in a battle of freshmen.Paonia got its second regional title when senior Eli Etter, Zeb’s older brother, pinned Meeker’s Tannen Kennedy.
Eli said he felt a little pressure to get a regional title after his brother won. “Yeah, I thought about that, we compete in everything,” he said with a laugh. “It feels pretty good, I was a little nervous at the beginning. It’s pretty cool because I’ll be ranked better at state now.” The regional featured seven wrestlers ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes, with five winning titles. Wade Katzdorn of Hotchkiss pulled off an upset at 160, beating top-ranked Lozrenzo Pena of Ignacio 8-7. Jace Logan of Soroco, ranked No. 2 at 152, beat No. 1-ranked Hayden Harris of Norwood/Nucla in a tight overtime match. Sergio Campos (113) and Colton Hall (132) both solidified their No. 1 rankings with regional titles for Hotchkiss. Campos, who placed third at state last year as a freshman, got a huge scare from Meeker’s Jacob Pelloni before coming away with a 6-3 decision. “He caught me a little,” Campos said. “My adrenaline gets going and my coaches have to tell me to settle down.”
Chase Rule of Meeker beat Paonia’s Jaden Miller at 182. Meeker’s Casey Turner, who has been battling a shoulder injury that occurred during the Cowboys’ football season, had two quick pins to advance to the 170-pound title match. But the Meeker coaches decided not to risk aggravating the injury and pulled him out of the title match against Trenton Armintrout of Norwood/Nucla. Last year, Turner won a state title at 152 pounds. Cedaredge had a strong showing, sending 10 wrestlers to state and finishing fourth in the regional team standings with 196 points. Meeker and Hotchkiss will both have nine wrestlers at state, and Paonia will send eight.