Reed one of three Eagles vying for state title

Paonia’s Jesse Reed celebrates Friday night after winning his 120-pound semifinal match 5-2 at the Pepsi Center. Reed will try to win his second straight title tonight as the Eagles chase their second straight team crown.

DENVER — At one time this season, Jesse Reed had some doubts about defending his state wrestling title.

The Paonia High School sophomore missed the first month of the season with a knee injury from football.

“There was definitely some frustration,” Reed said. “The first practice I didn’t know if I could get in shape. Along the way I tweaked my knee a little. There was some doubts at some points. Once I got to regionals, my conditioning was all right.”

Reed (24-2) defeated Merino’s Aris Shino 5-2 in the Class 2A 120-pound semifinals Friday night at the Pepsi Center and will wrestle for his second state title tonight.

Reed wrestles Stetson Loader of Baca County in the finals — the same guy Reed upset in the state semifinals last year.

“He’s a good kid,” Reed said. “I know that. I wrestled him in the summer. It’s definitely going to be a good match.”

Reed scored a near fall late in the third period to snap a 2-2 tie.

“I looked up at the clock. I thought, ‘You’ve got to push right here to get into the state finals,’ ” he said. “I finally got away. Thankfully, it didn’t go into overtime.”

Reed is one of three Paonia wrestlers in the championship finals. The others are freshman Bo Pipher (126 pounds) and junior heavyweight Tony Darling.

The Eagles have nine wrestlers competing in the consolation side of the bracket and could still place. Four of them are one win away from placing. Only one Paonia qualifier is out of the tournament.

Paonia has a commanding 25½–point lead in the race for the Class 2A team title. The Eagles have 142.5 points. Highland is second with 117 and Meeker is third with 43.5.

“The points are irrelevant,” Paonia coach Andy Pipher said. “In 2005, we led by 42 points and finished second.”

The Eagles haven’t blown a big lead at state since then. They won their first state team title in 2006 and did it again in 2009 and last year.

“It’s a great team, a young team,” Andy Pipher said when asked if this is his best in 15 seasons. “They’re special because they are so coachable. They’re fun to have in the room and there are so many leaders.”

Bo Pipher (40-4) pinned his way to the 126-pound finals. He pinned Ramon Tarin of Wray in 2:27 in the semifinals.

“I just kept going after him until I got the pin,” Bo Pipher said. “I expected to do good. I don’t know about all pins, but I figured (I could) if I kept wrestling good.”

Bo Pipher has pinned all three of his opponents at state in a total of 3:37.

Darling advanced to the heavyweight final with a 5-1 victory in the second tiebreaker period, which follows a one-minute overtime period.

Darling scored an escape in the first tiebreaker for a 2-1 lead, but Akron’s Reed Christensen would’ve gotten the victory if he scored an escape in the second tiebreaker. Instead, Darling wrapped him up in a cradle. He didn’t get the pin, but he got a three-point near fall for the final score.

“It was a tough match,” Darling said. “Last year, he beat me in the quarterfinals.”

Meeker freshman T.J. Shelton will wrestle for the 160-pound state title after he upset previously undefeated Eads senior Taylor Weirich 9-3 in the semifinals.

“I just go out there and shoot, be loose and have fun,” Shelton said. “I have nothing to lose.

“Whoever was better on their feet would probably win.”


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