Hotchkiss seniors Head, Boyle one win from glory

Hotchkiss’ Jesse Head looks at the referee as he awaits the pin signal Friday in the Class 3A 138-pound semifinal at the Pepsi Center. Head pinned Sterling’s Joel Contreras in 36 seconds to reach the final.

DENVER — In a span of only three matches, Hotchkiss senior Jesse Head has done away with the role of underdog and developed into one of the most dominating performers at the state wrestling tournament.

Head has spent a grand total of two minutes, 27 seconds on the mat through the first two days at the Pepsi Center, storming into the Class 3A state finals tonight at 138 pounds. On Friday morning Head pinned defending state champion Jared Mestas in the first period, and he followed that up with a 36-second pin of Sterling’s Joel Contreras in the semifinals.

His opponent in the championship match is Andrew Register of The Classical Academy.

“I feel tremendous. I’ve never been in this position before,” Head said. “I came here not even running this through my head. I never had any thought I’d be wrestling for a state championship.”

Head won’t be alone in his mission for a title. Teammate Joe Boyle pinned both of his opponents at 145 pounds Friday as well, with a 26-second fall in the quarterfinals and a pin at 1:51 in the semifinals of Alamosa’s Dillon Vance.

Boyle matches up with Centauri’s Jason Buhr in the finals.

“I’m happy. I’ve only got one more match for the rest of my life,” Boyle said. “Make it my best.”

Olathe had a rough go of it in Friday evening’s semifinals with Austin Shank (113) and previously undefeated Trenton Piatt (120) dropping their respective matches. Senior Jacob Solseth came through for the Pirates, though, with a takedown in the first overtime for a 7-5 decision over Alamosa’s Kole Kelley at 132 pounds.

Solseth meets Bennett’s Joshua Miller in the finals.

Grand Valley junior Bryan Hegwood was pinned in the 170-pound semifinals by defending state champion Caleb Copeland of Bennett.

Head and Boyle made it a night to remember for Hotchkiss, which hasn’t had a state champion since Cole Johnson in 2006. The close friends will be vying to make a little history of their own today and join an impressive list of Bulldogs who have tasted state glory.

“Nothing like a roller coaster. We hit the bottom in that round of consolations right before the semifinals, and then just to climb right back up — a lot of emotions,” Hotchkiss coach Glenn Suppes said. “Two seniors who have worked so hard; to be walking in the parade, it’s very good.”

Head had hopes of making it to Friday evening and possibly placing in only his second state appearance, but the senior surpassed all of his own expectations. The pin of Dolores Huerta’s Mestas gave him a boost of confidence that carried over into the match with Contreras.

Head said he plans to just relax going into the finals, rather than focusing so much on overcoming his nerves. He’s been able to tune out the raucous crowd at the Pepsi Center as well.

“As I’m wrestling I don’t even notice the crowd,” Head said. “I just know that the ring (mat) is the same size as the one in the practice room. That’s what my coaches tell me, and that’s what I remember.”

Boyle was so keyed up he initially wasn’t even aware his victory Friday evening punched his ticket into today’s finals. He thought he still had at least one more match before the championship and was obviously thrilled to realize that wasn’t the case.

Having Head with him this evening will only make the experience that much more special.

“Me and my kid have always been together. I love that guy,” Boyle said. “I’ve known him since I was a little kid.”

Hotchkiss is currently fifth in the 3A team standings with 60.5 points. Olathe is ninth with 49 points.


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