Montrose shakes off rust, wins own tourney
MONTROSE — It’s been three weeks since high school wrestling teams had a tournament.
Many wrestlers were sluggish, but Montrose High School picked up where it left off.
The Indians had five individual champions and nine placers in the top four to easily win their own tournament with 213.5 points.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” Montrose coach Kevin Passehl said. “We dualed (Friday) night and looked good, but we looked better today. “
Palisade was second with 169.5 points. The Bulldogs had three runner-ups and seven placers. Olathe was third with 158 points. The Pirates had three champions and five placers. Grand Junction placed 11th with 57.5 points.
Montrose’s Jordan Passehl and Olathe’s Zach Shank were chosen the tournament’s most oustanding wrestlers. They were two of four wrestlers to pin every opponent they faced in the tournament. The others were Casey Lynn of Montezuma-Cortez and Justin Smith of Paonia.
Passehl pinned Pueblo West’s Justin Berns-LaBorde in 3:43 in the 189-pound final. Shank pinned Montrose’s Kordell Bradshaw in 1:43 in the 119-pound final.
Montrose’s other champions were Geordan Hudson at 112 pounds, Drew Schumann at 125, Bryce Gaber at 171 and Braxten Franz at 215.
Hudson started it off, pinning Palisade’s Justin Ray in 1:46.
Schumann won the 125-pound title with a 12-0 decision over top seed Daniel Salazar of Palisade. It was Schumann’s first tournament title after getting a concussion early in the season.
“It’s nice to come in, not being the one that is supposed to win it and win it,” Schumann said.
Gaber had to beat a wrestler he lost to in the first dual of the season in the first round of the tournament — Gunnison’s Juan Garcia.
“I was happy I had a chance at revenge,” Gaber said. “This is the only time we see Gunnison, so I knew I had to get it done here.
“We practice our butt off and it pays off in the tournaments. We go, go, go. I stayed at the same weight over the break and got better.”
Gaber defeated Mesa Ridge’s Phillip Rhodes 10-8 in the final.
“I knew he’d be a tough wrestler,” coach Passehl said. “He’s a tough, strong kid.”
Braxten Franz became the Indians’ fifth champion of the night with a 5-3 decision over Palisade’s Nick Stephanus at 215.
Grand Junction’s 103-pound sophomore Dylon Thompson defeated Delta’s Mykal DeHerrera 9-2 in a rematch of the Warrior Classic final.
“I was working on different finishes,” Thompson (16-0) said. “I felt good. I did some sloppy stuff I can fix.”
Olathe’s Kris Nieto won the 145-pound title and Kyle Piatt took the 152-pound title.
Nieto easily won a 13-1 decision over Gunnison’s Ryan Roper for his first Montrose Invitational title.
“It was definitely one of my goals,” Nieto said. “This is a rival town. I wanted to show what I can do.
“I was aggressive on my feet, bottom and top. Conditioning helped a lot too.”
Piatt, though, had to rally from an early deficit to defeat Marc Guerrero of Pueblo West 3-2.
“I figured it would be a tough match,” Piatt said. “You can’t make mistakes and I did.”
Smith was Paonia’s only champion, but he did it in impressive fashion, pinning all three of his opponents, including Montrose’s Vance Hawk in the final.
It was the first tournament title of the season for Smith, ranked first in Class 2A.
“I’ve met up with tough kids,” Smith said. “It was a tough match (in the final). It was a matter of who could catch who. It was a battle on the feet.”