Heavyweight showdown

Montrose's Casillas tops Delta's Garcia for 4A regional crown

Palisade’s Dalton Hannigan is thrown to the mat Saturday by Pueblo County’s Hunter Willits in the 132-pound final at the Class 4A regionals in Montrose. Willits won 2-1.

Montrose’s Jesus Casillas, left, and Delta’s Marcus Garcia battle for position Saturday in the 285-pound final at the Class 4A regional tournament in Montrose. Casillas won 7-1 to claim the regional title.

MONTROSE — The two massive warriors circled, pushed, shoved and tried to overpower one another.

After the first period, Montrose’s Jesus Casillas and Delta’s Marcus Garcia were tied at 0-0 with neither wanting to take a chance and give the other an opening.

Casillas scored an escape in the second, then Garcia tied it 1-1 with an escape of his own in the third period.

Garcia was penalized one point for shoving Casillas out of bounds with about 30 seconds remaining in the match.

Trailing 2-1, Garcia, a junior, went for the takedown, but Casillas denied him. The Montrose senior took advantage of Garcia’s risky move and dominated the rest of the heavyweight match, winning 7-1 on Saturday to claim the Class 4A Region 4 tournament title.

“I knew I had to get a takedown, so I went for a shot, unfortunately, he got on top,” Garcia said.

Casillas, who beat Garcia in overtime earlier this year, said he was ready for a tough match.

“I’ve been working a lot on my conditioning, especially for the third period, and it really paid off,” he said. “I’ve been working my butt off all season, and I think I deserve to win. I just thought, ‘Why not me?’ ” 

After the frustrating loss, Garcia pounded the padded wall with his fists.

“I want to see him again,” he said. “I hope I see him again at state.”

Montrose head coach Neil Samples thinks Casillas will be a contender for a state title next week.

“I like Jesus’s chances (at state). He’s a heck of a wrestler when he wants to be. I just hope he shows up when he needs to,” Samples said.

Terrell Banuelos at 106, Matt Sandoval at 138 and Conner Lawson at 182 will join Casillas at state for the Indians.

Sandoval had to settle for second place after a 5-4 loss to Miles Wilson of Glenwood Springs in the finals.

Sandoval is looking for some redemption at state.

“I’m looking at beating some of the best kids in the state and hopefully make it on the podium for my senior year,” he said.

Banuelos, who lost to Palisade’s Randen Espinoza in the semifinals, took third place after pinning Noah Hermosillo of Eagle Valley.

Lawson, who was in fifth place, earned a trip to state with a pin at the 2 minute, 27 second mark over Devin Ward of Eagle Valley in a wrestleback for fourth place.

Delta had a strong regional tournament with a third-place team finish and will send seven wrestlers to state. In addition to Garcia, Cordell Stroud (182) and Alejandro Medina (220) earned third-place finishes, and Hayes McCracken (120), Daryan Urquhart (138), Derek Horn (152) and Daniel Brown (160) all placed fourth.

One of the most anticipated matches of the tournament was at 132 pounds with Palisade’s Dalton Hannigan facing Pueblo County’s Hunter Willits. Hannigan had defeated Willits earlier in the season by one point and has battled an injured ankle for most of the season.

Willits gained some revenge Saturday with a 2-1 victory.

The match was tight throughout, and after a scoreless first period, Hannigan tried move after move to try to escape from the down position in the second period. After three near escapes, Willits survived the period with the score still tied 0-0.

Willits scored a reversal in the final period, then gave one point back to Hannigan for stalling. But Hannigan, who won a state title at 126 last year, couldn’t work free to tie the score.

“I’m not too happy about how it turned out, so I think it’s going to give me that extra little push that I need,” Hannigan said. “I’m just really looking forward to state.”

The second period was what doomed Hannigan.

“It was frustrating. You can’t stay on bottom for the whole period,” he said. “After those failed attempts, it just pushes me that much more to put in the extra work.”

Palisade had two wrestlers in the finals and will send three to this weekend’s state tournament.

Espinoza finished second after falling to Grant Willits, 12-1 in the final at 106.

All total, three Willits brothers won regional titles with Keenan Willits winning at 160.

Palisade’s Braxton Stewart, who struggled early in the season with a hernia from the football season, placed fourth at 170.

Rifle had three third-place finishers: Dallas Rohrig at 132, Clayton Coombs at 220, and heavyweight Jose Prado.

Pueblo County claimed the Region 4 title with 187 points, edging Discovery Canyon, which had 175. Delta finished third with 172.5, and Eagle Valley fourth at 145.5.

Montezuma-Cortez 170-pounder Seager Oliver was selected the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler.


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