It was a successful day for all three area wrestling teams at the Colorado High School Activities Association regional tournaments Saturday, as 11 wrestlers qualified for the state tournament next week at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Both Bayfield and Durango High School had four qualifiers, while Ignacio had three. Regional champions were crowned, too, as Bayfield’s John Foutz won his 220-pound division in 3A Region 1, while Tyler Woodworth of Durango won his 152-pound bracket at the 4A Region 1 meet in Colorado Springs.
Here’s a closer look at how each team fared in their respective regional:
Bayfield High SchoolThe Wolverines will send four to the Pepsi Center, as BHS had one winner, a runner-up and two third-place finishes at the Class 3A Region 1 meet in Montrose.
Pagosa Springs won the regional with 239 points, while two-time defending Class 3A state champion Alamosa was second with 210. Bayfield finished sixth with 89.6 points.
Foutz dominated his way to the 220-pound final. In the championship match against Skyler Hill of Pagosa Springs, Foutz controlled the match from start to finish and won in a 9-3 decision. Foutz will enter state with a 36-3 record.
Dylan Pickering came close to taking home a championship at 138 but fell in his final to Dylan Tressler of Pagosa Springs. Tressler pinned Pickering 53 seconds into the opening period. Pickering, a junior, will enter state with a 31-8 record.
The third-place finishes came from two first-time state qualifiers, as Kobe Prior scored a forfeit victory over Pepper Rhyne of Moffat County at 160 pounds. Rhyne was injured and could not wrestle the third-place match. Shane Moore beat Zeke Rangel of Alamosa in an 8-2 decision to win his third-place match.
BHS head coach Todd McMenimen was impressed with how the Wolverines competed.
““We started off really strong in the first round (Friday),” McMenimen said. As a team, it was our best finish in a while. I was super impressed with how the guys battled today. Dylan’s first three matches looked outstanding. We’ve got to figure out a way to compete against Tressler, and they’ve been going back to sixth grade. Still, I really liked his fight today. Kobe Prior has grown tremendously from last year, and we saw it today. Shane moved up to 182s a few weeks back, and he didn’t flinch when there were 12 other ranked guys. He took care of business. John wasn’t challenged until the final and battled to a championship.”
Durango High SchoolThe Demons will also have two first-time qualifiers.
Durango finished in seventh at the Class 4A Region 1 tournament in Colorado Springs, as the Demons picked up 77 points. Pueblo East won the regional with 270.5 points. Cheyenne Mountain was second with 229.5 and Montrose was third with 167.
DHS had one champion in Woodworth at 152.
Woodworth won by defeating Noah Rivera of Pueblo East in an 11-8 decision.
At 106 pounds, freshman Beau Brunson pinned Joseph Steel of Sand Creek at the end of the first period in the third-place match to take home bronze.
The other third-place finish came from Austin Albrecht at 182, as he beat Sullivan Deherrera of Pueblo East in a 14-5 major decision.
At 160, Ben Belt grabbed the final spot in the bracket and finished fourth, as he lost to Jesse Boley of Cheyenne Mountain in a 16-4 major decision in their third-place match.
“It was a good weekend, for sure,” said DHS first-year head coach Robert Finneseth. “We were pushing for a little more, but we had a champion and had some good wrestling. I think we could’ve had a few kids higher on the podium, but it’s a learning process. You have to learn through these tough losses. I think Austin knows he could’ve won. We made a few mistakes in the semifinals, and watching the final, he knew that he was better than (Cole) Simmons of Montrose. He’ll learn from it. For Beau and Ben, it’s their first time qualifying, so it’s a big deal, and I liked their fight. For Tyler to take home the title, it was great to see, and he really wanted it.”
Ignacio High SchoolThe Ignacio High School wrestling team will send half of its team to state. Three of the six Bobcats qualified at the Class 2A Region 1 tournament in Montrose.
Cedaredge took home the team championship with 244 points. Hotchkiss was second with 168 and Paonia was third with 163. Ignacio finished in ninth with 53 points.
While the Bobcats did not have a champion, they did have a third-place finisher and two took fourth to sneak into state.
Randy Herrera will head back to state for his second time after he took third at the 285-pound heavyweight division. After a tough loss in the semifinals, Herrera bounced back in the third-place match and pinned Byron Mackay of Rangely 52 seconds into the third period to claim bronze.
Sophomore Tyler Barnes took fourth in a no contest win over Colt Fury of Mancos at 152 pounds, as Barnes beat Fury in a 12-9 decision in the quarterfinals. The last qualifier came from freshman Keaton McCoy, who took fourth at 126 and lost on a technical fall to Charles Curry of Meeker.
“I’m immensely proud of this group,” said IHS head coach Jordan Larsen. “It’s been a great year working with all six of them, and our message at the start of the day was to find a way to punch a ticket. It doesn’t matter if you win your bracket or sneak into fourth, all that matters is you qualify. The kids came to battle today. For Randy after going 0-15 his freshman year, he’s now a two-time qualifier as a senior. Keaton and Tyler, they showed what it takes to reach state, and they battle back to get there. We’re looking forward to state, for sure.”