Trujillo, Fantin lift Panthers to 2nd in Delta Invitational
DELTA — Nathan Trujillo and Rudy Fantin remember the day they decided they wanted to be state champion wrestlers.
Two and a half years later, the Delta High School seniors could be on their way.
“I watched the seniors at state,” Trujillo said. “Ever since that day, Rudy and I have worked together and said we’ll be in the finals in that spot.”
The Colorado High School state wrestling tournament is 10 weeks away, but Trujillo, Fantin and the Class 4A 10th-ranked Panthers are off to a good start.
“Nobody thinks we should be 10th in state, but we’re proving right now we’ll be top contenders this year at state,” Fantin said. “From our first year in high school (the coaches) taught us tilts, they taught us everything we know now. We just got to go out and hit it. They know what they are talking about.”
Fantin and Trujillo were two of four individual champions and 10 placers Saturday for the Panthers in the Delta Invitational. The others were Mykal DeHerrera (103 pounds) and Michael Patton (215).
The Panthers took second with 195 points.
“We’re hoping to surprise some people,” Delta coach Clayton Curtis said. “We knew we’d be pretty good this year, but we wanted to fly under the radar. We don’t want someone to give us a ranking. We want to earn it.”
Three of the four Delta County schools placed in the top four in the tournament.
Paonia, ranked eighth in Class 2A, won the team title with 201 points without an individual champion. The Eagles had 13 place in the top six.
“Our young kids wrestled tough when they had to,” Paonia coach Andy Pipher said. “We won some consolation rounds and I’m proud of them for that.”
Hotchkiss, ranked ninth in 3A, was fourth with 156 points. The Bulldogs had one champion, Conner Beard.
“It’s good to be at the top around here,” Beard said. “It’s a step along the road I guess. I’d rather be the best in the state than the best around here. It does mean a lot to be the best around here.”
Cedaredge, which hasn’t had an individual state champion since 1986, took eighth place with one finalist and four placers.
“(Cedaredge coach Ted Schannen) has got good numbers,” Hotchkiss coach Glenn Suppes said. “He got the commitment from the kids in the summer.”
Olathe, a Delta County neighbor, has a strong tradition and history as well. The Pirates had nine placers and three champions to take third with 182 points. Olathe had the two outstanding wrestlers of the tournament in Zach Shank (125 pounds) and Kyle Piatt (171).
Shank pinned all three opponents, all in the first period. Piatt did likewise in his first tournament one week after leading the Olathe football team to the Class 2A state title.
Rifle was fifth (124.5), Grand Valley took seventh (75) and Meeker finished 12th (35).
The Bears were led by senior Larry Schmueser, who won the 140-pound title.
“I’ve made it to state every year and supposedly been one of the placers and chocked,” Schmuser said. “The way this year’s been going, it shouldn’t happen.”
Schmueser pinned Adrian Lopez of Paonia in 3:25 in the final.
“He caught me off-guard and put me on my back,” Schmueser said. “I had to fight back out of that. I knew I had to get serious and come back from it.”