Classic déjà vu
GJ's Lacy faces same foe for 2nd straight year in Warrior Classic semis
This looks oh so familiar.
Cody Lacy is back in the semifinals of the Warrior Classic wrestling tournament. There, the Grand Junction sophomore will face the same man he lost to in the semifinals a year ago, Monte Vista senior Diondre Garcia, last year’s Warrior champ and Class 3A state champ at 106 pounds.
Garcia pinned Lacy inside of one minute in their semifinal last year, but don’t expect a similar result today, Lacy says.
“I feel awesome, I feel comfortable, I’m relaxed,” said Lacy, who won all three of his matches by pin Friday, as did Garcia. “I’m not worried at all. I’m not thinking about the past. Last year at the Warrior he pinned me. This year is a totally different story.”
Lacy said he came to the tournament to win it, and he’s one of three Tigers still in contention for titles as freshman Tyren Castonguay (106) and senior Louis Guillen (145) joined him as semifinalists by dominating their first three opponents.
Lacy said his confidence stems from being stronger and healthier this year.
“I feel like mentally and physically I’m much better,” said Lacy, who ran his record to 16-0. “This year I definitely plan on taking first.”
Castonguay finds himself in the same spot Lacy was in last year as he heads into the second day of the Warrior. The first day went as planned, he said, racking up two pins, then a 16-0 technical fall in his quarterfinal.
“I was coming here to win it,” said Castonguay, who improved to 15-1 and faces Douglas County junior Tanner Mooney in the semifinals.
Guillen pinned all three of his opponents Friday, and the reward is a semifinal against Arvada West junior Payton Tatwater, who is going for his third Warrior title and was the Class 5A third-place finisher at 126 last year. Tatwater is ranked first and Guillen second in the latest 5A state rankings.
Guillen said he enters all of his matches confident, regardless of the opponent.
To win today, Guillen said, “I just have to wrestle smart and counter him when he messes up.”
The confidence his wrestlers are expressing is welcomed by Grand Junction coach Cole Allison.
“To jump from good to great and great to state champion, most of it’s in your head,” he said.
The coach also is glad his wrestlers have major hurdles to clear if they’re going to win Warrior Classic crowns.
“It’s more important that we put ourselves into positions where we face tough challenges now,” Allison said. “You don’t want to get to state 30-0 and have that be the first time you’re tested.”
IN POSITION TO REPEAT
Defending Warrior Classic team champion Paonia is in decent shape after Day 1 in its pursuit of a second straight title.
The Eagles, Class 2A’s top-ranked team, placed seven wrestlers in the semifinals, the most of any team, and they lead the standings with 132 points. Class 5A’s top-ranked team, Arvada West, is second with 108 points, and Rocky Mountain, ranked second in 5A, is third with 101.5 points.
Arvada West has six semifinalists, three of them at weights where the Eagles remain in title contention. Rocky Mountain has five semifinalists, three of them at the same weights as Paonia semifinalists.
The top three teams all have a semifinalist at 160 pounds.
“It’s going to come down to the wire in a tournament as tough as this one,” Paonia coach Andy Pipher said. “You have to wrestle both days. You have to wrestle hard. You have to punch four or five into the finals. Whoever does that is probably going to win it. … You also have to win in the backdoor, too, win those consolation matches and pick up every point you can there. You have to have both.”
The Eagles still vying for titles are Josh Altman (120), Jesse Reed (126), Bo Pipher (132), Ty Coats (152), Zach Milner (160), Joel Simianer (220) and Tony Darling (285).
“That’s the best I’ve seen Jesse Reed wrestle since his freshman year,” Andy Pipher said of the junior. “All of our guys are wrestling well.”
Pipher also lauded his upper weights, a group that he admonished after a disappointing performance Thursday night in a dual the Eagles lost 33-30 to Arvada West.
“I thought my big guys started wrestling better today,” Pipher said. “They lost some tough ones, but they also won some tough ones.”
Paonia nearly had an eighth semifinalist as senior 170-pounder William Austin used a takedown and a three-point near fall to take a 13-6 lead in the middle of the third period. Denver East senior Khyre Burns, however, reversed Austin and pinned him with 55 seconds left.
106 COULD BE LOCAL AFFAIR
Only one weight class, 106, has the potential for an all-District 51 final.
Palisade junior Randen Espinoza recorded two pins and a technical fall to reach the semifinals, where he will face Arvada West freshman Cody Fatzinger.
“He’s wrestling strong,” Palisade coach Lonnie Tate said of Espinoza, who improved to 16-0.
Had the tournament played out according to seed, Espinoza would have been facing Montrose sophomore Terrell Banuelos in the semifinals in a matchup of Class 4A’s first- and second-ranked wrestlers. But top-ranked Banuelos bowed to Arvada West freshman Cody Fatzinger, who is ranked No. 2 in 5A.
PROVING HE DESERVES IT
Getting a No. 1 seed at the Warrior Classic doesn’t guarantee a thing, but Fruita Monument junior Ty Taylor received the designation at 182 pounds to his pleasant surprise. He then proceeded to win both of his matches en route to the semifinals.
“At first I thought, ‘I didn’t expect this.’ My second thought was: ‘Yeah, I deserve it,’ ” Taylor said of his seeding.
Taylor had to grind his way to both of his wins after receiving a first-round bye. He beat Paonia’s Logan Schopp in a close match for the second time in a week, winning 6-3 on Friday. Then, he edged Durango’s Patrick Cunnion 7-5 in the quarterfinals.
“I was a little injured today,” Taylor said, adding he wasn’t making excuses. Rather, he knew it was going to require him to dig deep to get past the quality opponents that awaited. “I kind of got mean today. I’m usually not mean, but I looked at it as these guys are in the way of me having a good Warrior Classic, trying to place as high as I can. … I knew they were good, but I feel I’m a good wrestler, too. I’ve improved a lot from last year.”
Fruita coach Dan Van Hoose said Taylor’s confidence makes a huge difference, and Taylor’s victories Friday came as no surprise, even if he is hampered a bit by injury.
Taylor was joined in the semifinals by teammate Jacob Seely, last year’s Warrior champ at 170 pounds. Seely made easy work of his three opponents at 195 pounds Friday. He recorded two pins and a technical fall.