Storylines to watch at the state wrestling tournament this week15 Feb 2017
It's an event unlike any other in Colorado high school sports. This week, 896 wrestlers will convene at Pepsi Center with each one looking for individual glory at the 2017 state wrestling tournament.
Their individual wins will also play a factor in determining four overall team champions. But in the midst of those 896 competitors vying for solo titles and the four teams that will emerge with state championship trophies, there are plenty of storylines worth watching at Pepsi Center.
CLASS 2A - Rocky Ford leads the field with 14 state qualifiers and looks to make a run at the 2A team title. Jacob Rodriguez will look to get his third individual title as he came away with wins at 106 pounds in 2015 and 2016. He once again competes at that weight class and is 33-4 on the season. Two undefeated wrestlers will take the mat for 2A this week. Jonathan Andreatta (126) of John Mall and Limon's Kaleb Gaede (220) will look to end their seasons with an unblemished record. The 2A class is the only one that saw a girl qualify for the state tournament. Del Norte's Natalie Benavides will be the lone representative for a group of competitors that has only grown in recent years. This is the ninth year in a row that a girl has qualified for the state tournament and Benavides is the eighth girl to reach the tournament.
CLASS 3A -
The race for the team title in 3A might be one of the most fun to watch during the tournament. Kevin Shaffer and Tim Yount broke down the team race in Tuesday's preview, with Yount thinking that the race will be between Valley and Alamosa.Seven returning state champions are in the field in 3A with Alamosa's Isaiah De La Cerda and Fort Lupton's Jody Sandoval each going for their third.A unique showdown could be looming in the 285 final as Mullen's Deseriere and Bayfield's Sam Westbrooke are both undefeated on the season. If the two meet in the championship bracket it will be in the final. Deseriere beat Westbrooke in a 10-5 decision in the second round of state last year. They provide the only scenario where not all the undefeated wrestlers in the class can leave Pepsi Center without a loss.
CLASS 4A -
The 4A brackets might contain most of the intriguing stories of the week. All eyes will be on Pueblo County's Hunter Wilits as he tries to become the 20th wrestler in state history to win a fourth state championship. His brother Grant is aiming to come away with his third. The 113 bracket could see a showdown of two returning state champions as sophomores Jace Trujillo (Pueblo East) and Will Vombaur (Windsor) are each looking to become two-time champions. Trujillo won the 113-pound title last year while Vombaur came away with the 106 crown. There was also some shakeup in the 285 bracket on Tuesday as Montrose's Sam Distel had to withdraw from the tournament due to an injury. The bracket was redrawn and with Distel, the top seed, out of the competition, it's really anyone's title to claim. Glenwood Springs' Myles Wilson is also looking to finish off a remarkable two-year run. Wilson won state at 170 last year, going undefeated on the season. He remains undefeated this season and if he comes away with a win at 182, it will conclude one of the more memorable two-year spans in wrestling history.
CLASS 5A - The 5A brackets have eight returning state champions looking to repeat. Only Poudre's Jacob Greenwood is a two-time champ looking to claim his third title.
Brighton leads the field with 12 qualifiers and will look to hold off a very talented Pomona team that is looking for its third title in five years.If Castle View's Malik Heinselman and Tate Samuelson can win their respective state championships at 106 and 170, they will enter their senior seasons next year with a chance to complete two-straight undefeated seasons.These stories and plenty of others will be told out over the next several days.
The 2017 state wrestling tournament begins with 2A and 3A preliminaries at 3 p.m. on Thursday.