Local wrestlers face tough task at state tourney
Several local high school wrestlers will find out pretty quick if they have what it takes to win a state title.
Nine of the 13 state qualifiers in Class 5A will have to beat a returning state champion or returning state placer to reach the finals of the Colorado State Championships this weekend at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
The pairings for all four classes of the state wrestling tournament were released Sunday night.
Central’s 189-pounder, Jaron Sparks (25-15), wrestles a national JUDO star and returning state placer, Max Wessell (37-0) of Boulder in the first round.
Central’s Willy Holdren (34-10) could meet two-time state champion Jacob Snider (37-1) of Ponderosa in the 145-pound quarterfinals. Fruita Monument’s Logan McNulty (25-9) is in the same half of the bracket.
Fruita’s Jeff Gonzales (35-6) has a former Class 2A state champion in the same half of the bracket at 130 pounds and Central’s Zach Short (30-12) could run into state champion Steven Kelly of Ponderosa in the quarterfinals.
Fruita heavyweight Anthony Martin’s road got tougher with a forfeit in the regional finals. The senior (37-2) has a possible matchup with top-ranked Gage Boyd (36-3) of Pomona in the second round.
Grand Junction’s Jesse Hoffschneider (34-3) will have to beat three returning state placers to reach the 140-pound final and Dylon Thompson (35-2) has cadet freestyle All-American and returning state placer, Kegan Gavaldon on his half of the bracket.
Central’s Matthew Gurule (42-1) is on the other half of Pine Creek’s Josh Martinez (41-1), who beat Gurule for a regional title last weekend. Gurule defeated Martinez in the 103-pound final last year.
In Class 4A, Palisade 119-pounder Daniel Salazar (37-4) could meet returning state champion Alex Baca (15-2) of Pueblo Central in the second round. State runner-up and Warrior Classic champion Courtland Hacker of Broomfield is on the other half of the bracket.
Palisade’s Casey Thornton (23-6) drew three-time state placer and Warrior Classic champion Jerry Huff of Broomfield in the first round at 125.
Thornton’s teammate, Mason Day (25-11) faces state runner-up and Warrior Classic champion Nick Babcock of Broomfield in the first round at 130. Wesley Shingleton (38-4) has two returning state-placers on the same half of the 145-pound bracket.