Eagles flying high: Regionals give Paonia a chance to see how they stack up

Regionals give Paonia a chance to see how they stack up

Dustin Braslin, back, is one of seven Paonia wrestlers ranked No. 1 in his weight class. During this weekend’s Class 2A Region 1 tournament at Central High School, the Eagles will try to qualify as many wrestlers as possible for next week’s state tournament.

Wrestling regionals get under way this weekend and for Paonia, the area team with the best shot at a team state title, the regional could be more of a tune-up.

Paonia wrestles in the Class 2A, Region 1 tournament at Central High School, beginning at 9 a.m. today. Finals are scheduled to begin 4 p.m. Saturday.

Coach Andy Pipher thinks this year’s Eagles team is one of the best he’s ever had ­— a statement that says a lot since Paonia won state titles in 2006 and 2009.

“The thing about this team, there’s just no holes in our lineup,” Pipher said. “From 106 pounds to 285, there’s just someone solid all the way through.”

Of the 14 weight classifications, On the Mat ranking has seven Paonia wrestlers ranked No. 1 in the region — Jesse Reed (113 pounds), Ty Coats (132), Adrian Lopez (138), Dustin Braslin (145), Kyler Bear (160), Morgan Reider (182) and Tony Darlin (285).

Said Bear of Paonia’s practices: “It’s hard to find somebody in the room to pick on.”

Pipher said Paonia has won at least four consecutive regionals.

The regional wrestling tournaments play an integral part in a wrestler’s state seeding. A good showing at regional could put a wrestler on the opposite side of the state tournament bracket as a No. 1-seeded wrestler. That, in turn, could be the difference between a wrestler losing early or cruising to the final and racking up team points.

“There’s going to be a lot of great matchups going into the tournament,” Pipher said. “For these tournaments, we tell them, ‘If somebody beat you, you beat them.’ That’s how you know you finish strong.”

Palisade hopes to finish strong as well in the Class 4A, Region 1 final at Eagle Valley.

The Region includes No. 1 seed Roosevelt, Delta and Montrose.

Palisade and Montrose have some of the area’s top wrestlers.

But Palisade has the best chance at pushing Roosevelt, which won the Warrior Classic this season.

The Bulldogs are led by Justin Ray (35-2 at 126 pounds). Daniel Salazar (33-4 at 132), Zach Judis (31-7 at 182) and Dalton Hannigan (31-6 at 120).

“During regionals, you try to get as much info as you can during a tournament,” Palisade coach Brian Rush said. “So you’re trying to watch everybody.”

In Class 5A, Grand Junction and Central are heading to the Region 2 meet at Westminster. The Parade of Champions and championship matches begin at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The Tigers’ Jessie Hoffschneider, a two-time state runner-up, has move up a weight division to 170 pounds.

Grand Junction also features No. 1-ranked Jacob Trujillo, a 120-pound freshman who has defeated two returning state champions.

Central, meanwhile, is led by Anthony Feller, a No. 2 seed at 145 pounds, and Willy Holdren, No. 3 at 152 pounds.

“It’s a pretty tough region,” Central coach Laurence Gurule said. “Pomona, Coronado, Grand Junction, they’re all tough.”

Fruita Monument, meanwhile, is in the Class 5A Region 3 meet at Bear Creek High School in Lakewood. Finals are scheduled to run from 4 to 6 p.m Saturday.

In Class 3A, Cedaredge, Coal Ridge, Grand Valley, Hotchkiss and Olathe are at Montrose High for the tournament that begins today at 9 a.m. Finals are scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.


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