Eagles one step closer
Pipher leads 5 Eagles into Parade of Champions
DENVER — Bo Pipher intentionally put himself in situations on the wrestling mat this season that would help him get that one step further.
The Paonia High School sophomore got ever-so close to his quest of winning a state title, losing in last year’s Class 2A state championship match.
To that end, “I worked on the mental part,” he said of his approach this season.
“I tried to (wrestle) from every position,” he said.
His primary focus came from working in the down position, learning how to gain the upper hand from adverse situations.
All that work has paid off so far, as Pipher gets a chance to wrestle for his first state title tonight at the Pepsi Center.
After winning his 132-pound quarterfinal match by second-period pin on Friday morning, he dominated in the semifinals Friday night with a 5-0 decision over Martin Torres of Burlington.
Pipher was one of five Paonia wrestlers to earn a spot in tonight’s Parade of Champions preceding the title matches.
Jesse Reed cruised in his quest to become a three-time state champ, claiming a 5-0 victory over Earl Brewer of Crowley County in the 126-pound semis.
Ty Coats brought his tournament pin total to three, with both of Friday’s victories at 152 coming in the second period.
Zach Milner earned a tough 6-4 decision over Juan Fraire of Sedgwick County in the semis at 160.
Tony Darling matched Coats’ feat by picking up his second and third pins on the tournament Friday. He’ll wrestle for the 285-pound title.
The five semifinals victories gave Paonia a commanding 51.5-point lead over Meeker in the 2A team race. The Eagles have 144 points entering today’s consolation rounds.
The Eagles had two other wrestlers reach the semifinals, but both were defeated — including a heartbreaking loss by Josh Altman at 120.
Altman led 3-2 with both wrestlers in the neutral position until Jakeob Trujillo spun around and got a takedown with less than two seconds remaining.
Meeker had three wrestlers reach the semifinals. All will be vying for a state title.
Tristin Pelloni had one of the most exciting semifinal matches of the night, getting a takedown 29 seconds into overtime to defeat Marcelino Baptista of Merino at 113.
Devon Pontine pulled off a big upset in the quarterfinals, winning 8-3 over top 160-pound seed Bryce McCracken of Crowley County. He followed that up with a decisive 11-5 victory over Jonas Cure of Wray.
“My coaches and teammates said I made it here last year (but) didn’t leave everything out there,” Pontine said. “Last year I wrestled what we call timid. We call it wrestling to not lose, but to win you can’t be afraid to lose.”
He’ll face Milner for the state title. They’ve wrestled at least five times in the past, by Pontine’s estimation. Milner has won every match, but all were within at least two points.
“It’s going to be a great match to watch,” Pontine predicted.
Sophomore T.J. Shelton came through Friday’s two rounds unscathed in quest to be a two-time state champion, winning by technical fall in the 170-pound quarterfinals and by pin in the semis.