Gallegos, Nieto face off for 3A 135-pound title
DENVER — Ryan Gallegos and Kris Nieto believed they were two of the best wrestlers in the state.
Friday night, the Grand Valley and Olathe high school seniors proved it. Tonight, they will wrestle for the Class 3A 145-pound state title at the Pepsi Center.
“It’s nice to see someone from the same region in the finals,” Gallegos said. “It shows how great the Western Slope is in wrestling.”
Olathe is in third place in the team race with 89.5 points. Lamar is first with 121.5 and Centauri is second with 111.
Gallegos (40-0), a Grand Valley senior, is making his fourth trip to the state championship finals, but is looking for his first state title.
“I have some unfinished business,” Gallegos said. “I have one more match. We’ll see what happens.”
Gallegos, who defeated Nieto for the regional title last weekend, didn’t have much trouble getting to the final. He has pinned all three of his opponents in the state tournament, including Jordan Smith of Platte Valley in 3:13 in the semifinals.
Nieto (37-6), an Olathe senior, had to rally to defeat Centauri’s Jared Holman 3-2. Nieto was trailing 2-1 in the third period when he scored a takedown for the victory.
“I went for it at the end,” Nieto said. “It’s all or nothing. I put everything I had in the match.”
It is Nieto’s first state finals appearance. He placed fourth last year.
Olathe’s Kyle Piatt advanced to the 152-pound state final and almost had a meeting with Grand Valley’s Tyler Miles.
Piatt (42-0) defeated Bayfield’s Aaron Velasquez 5-2 in one semifinal, but Centauri’s Ivan Sandoval scored a takedown late to defeat Miles (37-6) 12-10 in the other semifinal.
Olathe sophomore Zach Shank (39-2) will wrestle for another state title after a technical fall victory over Florence’s Dylan Hodges in the 119-pound semifinals.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Shank said. “I hope I can perform better.”
Grand Valley’s Jared Tonder will get another chance to win a state title.
The 2009 state runner-up defeated Valley’s Cole Cunningham 4-0 in the 140-pound semifinals.
Caleb Wyatt (34-4) of Hotchkiss advanced to the 160-pound final with a technical fall victory over Austin Trjuillo of Valley.
“I felt him out and took him down,” Wyatt said. “I broke him down and turned him.”
It is Wyatt’s first state finals appearance.
“It’s been a long(time) goal of mine,” Wyatt said. “I’m going to go out and do my best.”
PAONIA SENIORS GO FOR STATE TITLE
Paonia’s James Drinkhouse and Justin Smith are back in the state finals again this year.
Smith is making his third consecutive appearance in the state finals and is looking for his second state title.
The Eagles are in third place with 95 points. Wiggins leads the team race with 137 points and Burlington is second with 115.
Smith, a 160-pound senior (37-4), defeated La Veta’s Ron Ortivez 5-0 in the semifinals and wrestles Holly’s Mike Lozano (37-2) in the final.
“My goal was to make it back,” Smith said. “Now that I made it, I’m going to try to catch him somehow and beat him.”
Drinkhouse, who won a state title at Grand Valley last year, will wrestle for the 140-pound crown after pinning Rocky Ford’s Angel Ramos in 5:30.
Michael Brown’s hopes of wrestling for a title came to an end with a 6-0 loss to Aaron Erker of Wiggins in the 152-pound semifinals.
Brown, a Paonia senior, qualified for the state tournament for the first time, but hoped to win an individual state title like his older brother, Devon.