‘Dog eyes his last bone

Palisade's Salazar goes for elusive state crown

Palisade’s Daniel Salazar, left, works on taking Greeley Central’s Eric Guerrero to the mat Friday night in a 5-0 semifinal victory at 132 pounds. Salazar will wrestle for a Class 4A state championship tonight.

Montrose’s Geordan Hudson gets the upper hand Friday in his 8-4 victory over Mesa Ridge’s Keith Cays in a 145-pound semifinal match.

DENVER — Daniel Salazar will get a chance to accomplish the last thing he’s set out to do — win a state wrestling title.

The Palisade High School senior won his Class 4A state semifinal match Friday night and will wrestle for the 132-pound state title tonight. He didn’t pump a fist or shout. He’s been here before.

He reached the finals as a sophomore, but lost.

“It feels great to be back,” Salazar said. “I want another shot at Valor Christian (Cody Weitzel).”

Weitzel defeated Salazar in the Palisade Invitational and regionals a week ago.

“His goal all year was to get back here and win it,” Palisade coach Brian Rush said. “We know he has a tough match, but he’ll come out and give it his best shot. The thing with Daniel is he goes hard all the time.”

Salazar (39-5) defeated Eric Guerrero of Greeley Central 5-0 in the 132-pound semifinals.

“He was an awkward kid to wrestle,” Salazar said. “I had to wrestle my style.  As soon as I got the first takedown I knew I could win it.”

Palisade is in 12th place with 36.5 points. Windsor leads the team race with 91.5 points.

The Bulldogs’ Justin Ray (126), Eddie Vial (170) and Zach Judis (182) are in the consolation bracket. Dalton Hannigan (120), Brice Hawley (160), Matt Pitton (195) and Luis Medrano (220) were eliminated.

Montrose sophomore Jeremiah Banuelos came through a wide-open field in the 120-pound weight class to advance to the finals.

“Last year, I took fifth in regionals and didn’t make it to state,” Banuelos said. “I told myself that day I would make it to state and be in the top two.

“I just kept fighting. You keep pushing through it until that final whistle blows. I believed in myself.”

Banuelos was picked to place sixth by On the Mat.

“Bonus,” Montrose coach Kevin Passehl said. “He is a tough kid. He got better every week. Last week was the best I’ve seen him wrestle. The first round was tough for him. I think it was nerves, but he looked good (Friday).”

Banuelos won a 4-2 decision over Brandon Wetsch of Erie in overtime.

“(Overtime) was a good scramble,” Passehl said. “We work on that a lot. We tell (the team) to work through it and he came out on top.”

Montrose teammate Geordon Hudson joined Banuelos in the finals.

It is Hudson’s first final. The senior four-time state qualifier placed third as a sophomore and sixth as a junior.

“It feels great, but I’m not done yet,” Hudson said.

Hudson defeated Keith Cays of Mesa Ridge 8-4 in the 145-pound semifinals.

“I had to wrestle my match,” Hudson said. “You can’t overlook anyone. I try to wrestle everyone like he is a state champion. I hit my shots and led the dance.”

Kordell Bradshaw reached the semifinals, but lost. He will place in his final year of high school.

Marcus Velasquez (152) and Cole Panter (195) led going into the third period of his quarterfinal match, but lost. He is in the consolation bracket.

The Indians are in sixth place with 67.5 points.

Delta’s Morgan McCracken (145) won two consolation matches and is one win away from placing. Shane Anderson (126) and Irvin Hernandez (138) were eliminated.


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