In a down year for high school wrestling in La Plata County, a combined six boys from the county’s three high schools qualified for the state tournament, which will be held next week at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Bayfield High School will lead the county charge with three boys set to compete in Class 3A. Ignacio qualified two boys in Class 2A, and Durango qualified one boy in Class 4A a year after failing to send any wrestlers to Denver.
Here’s a look at how the teams did at the regional tournaments:
3A Region 1Bayfield placed seventh in its brutally tough regional with 73 points. Alamosa won the region on its home mats with 251 points to edge Pagosa Springs (218) and Valley (198). Montezuma-Cortez placed 12th with 54 points.
Bayfield junior Daniel Westbrook was the star of the weekend. The 220-pound wrestler won all three of his regional matches. He opened with a second-period pin of Alamosa’s Logan Thompson before securing a 1-0 decision win against the region’s topseed, Jesus Garcia of Valley. In the first-place match, Westbrook made quick work of Basalt’s William Rivera with a pin in 58 seconds.
Westbrook will go into the state tournament with a 32-11 record. His regional opponents were a combined 85-37, as he made his way through a tough bracket to claim the title.
“Daniel went in to regionals and didn’t even get seeded,” BHS head coach Roy Westbrook said. “He went in and wrestled Alamosa right off the bat. He threw him to his back and pinned him. A kid who had pinned us already this year. Daniel pinned him, and it was all confidence from there. After that, his mind-set was that he wasn’t going to lose. “Then he knocked off the No. 1 seed to get to the finals.
“For Daniel to be a regional champ, he’s got a lot of confidence going to the state tournament.”
Bayfield also qualified seniors Garrett Beebe and Jake Sandrey at 138 and 145 pounds, respectively. Beebe lost a 6-0 decision to Rifle’s Colt Rohrig in the third-place match but secured his state ticket with a fourth-place result. Sandrey lost a tough 3-2 decision to Alamosa’s Kolten Hillis in the third-place match but took fourth to get back to state. Beebe and Sandrey both qualified for state a year ago.
“They really want to place this year,” coach Westbrook said. “They’ve been to state a few times and haven’t placed, and I really think they’ll surprise some kids. Jake is really set up to be in the semifinals and rematch with (Valley’s top-seeded Brandon Damian). Jake can beat anyone in the state he really wants to. He just has to wrestle his match.
“Same goes for Garrett. He got a little unlucky and drew the No. 2 seed (Nick Gallegos of Jefferson), but it’s not too far-fetched that he can beat that kid.”
Montezuma-Cortez junior Matthew Broughton also qualified for state at 138 pounds, as he placed second. He dropped an 8-2 decision in the regional championship match to Olathe junior Clay Yarnell.
2A Region 1Cedaredge won the 2A Region 1 meet held at Delta High School with a score of 228 points. Paonia was second with 209.5 points, and Hotchkiss placed third with 178.
Mancos was eighth with 62 points, Dolores was ninth with 50, and Dove Creek took 10th with 39 points. Ignacio placed 12th with 35 points in the 15-team field.
Ignacio earned a pair of third-place finishes to get two boys to state. Skieler Grooms, a junior, beat Norwood senior Riley Wilson in a 3-0 decision in the third-place match at 145 pounds to secure his spot. Dustin Sanchez qualified at 152 pounds, as the junior beat Meeker sophomore Jacob Shelton with a second-period pin in the third-place match to clinch his place at state,
Dove Creek had a pair of boys qualify for state, as 106-pound freshman Gage Bailey won the regional title with a 16-10 decision win against Dolores junior Cameron Chavez in the first-place match. Both boys qualified for state.
Dove Creek senior Rhett Quackenbush placed fourth at 113 pounds to qualify. He lost a 10-0 major decision in the third-place match to Hotchkiss freshman Robert Cochran.
Dolores qualified a second wrestler at 120 pounds, as senior Austin Hackney placed fourth. He lost his third-place match via first-period pin to Cedaredge freshman Trey Geyer.
Mancos also got two boys to state, as Cameryn Fury placed second at 182 pounds and Kaleb Hargraves placed second at 195 pounds. Fury, a senior, lost the regional championship match in a second-period pin to Nucla junior William Gabriel. Hargraves, also a senior, was pinned in 15 seconds in the championship match by Hotchkiss senior Devin Curtis.
4A Region 1Host team Pueblo County won the region with 272.5 points. Pueblo West was second with 254.5 points, and Pueblo South took third with 153 points.
Durango placed 12th out of 14 teams with 27.5 points. Of those points, 16 were earned by senior Rashaad Liggins.
Liggins qualified for state with a 12-10 decision win in the third-place match against Pueblo West senior Tanner Henderson. Liggins is 11-9 this season.
Liggins lost his quarterfinal in a 5-2 decision to Jake Gallina of Pueblo South, but he earned a second-period pin of Palmer Ridge’s Levan Pipia in the second consolation round. He then earned a forfeit win before taking a 6-5 decision against Air Academy’s Alex Mays to reach the third-place match.
DHS didn’t qualify a wrestler for state in 2017 and qualified only one in 2016. From 2014 to 2015, the team qualified nine wrestlers for state.