Montrose sending six to state, four as regional champions

GYPSUM — What the Montrose High School wrestling team lacked in quantity of athletes it made up for with quality performances Saturday.

Four Montrose wrestlers took home weight-class titles — more than any of the 16 teams at Eagle Valley High School — to pace a field of six Indians who qualified for this weekend’s state championships in Denver at the Class 4A Region 1 Tournament.

“We don’t have many kids, but the ones we brought are pretty tough,” Montrose coach Kevin Passehl said.


Jeremiah Banuelos (120 pounds), Geordon Hudson (145), Marcus Velasquez (152) and Cole Panter (195) each won regional titles for the Indians. Each of the six Montrose wrestlers who will go to the Pepsi Center reached the regional final, as Jason Cooper (113) and Kordell Bradshaw (138) finished second.

“We are a pretty small squad,” said Panter, who was the top seed in the weight class and beat Eagle Valley’s Satchel Jones 7-2 in the final. “We took dead last at the (Southwestern) league duals, so it showed there. But today, even though we’re small, we definitely showed we’re a large force.”

Montrose, however, couldn’t beat Palisade in the team standings. The Bulldogs’ 168 points, which came via eight state qualifiers and four title-match berths, were good enough for a second-place finish behind the 204.5 scored by perennial state power Roosevelt. Montrose finished third with 158.5, with Durango (148), Valor Christian (123) and Delta (113.5) following.

The Bulldogs were in the hunt for the team title coming into the day and stayed in it through the early afternoon. The Rough Riders’ overall depth, however, helped them build on their lead enough to have the tournament clinched before the finals began.

“We would have liked to have done better in the team standings,” Palisade coach Brian Rush said. “But we took second in the region after winning the (Western Slope) league title for the fifth straight year, and we still have eight guys going. Our goal was to get as many guys there as we could, so I’m fine with this.”

Dalton Hannigan (120), Daniel Salazar (132), Eddie Vial (170) and Zach Judis (182) each finished second in their weight class, with a third-place finish from Justin Ray (126) and fourth-place finishes from Brice Hawley (160) and Luis Medrano (220). One other Palisade wrestler, fifth-place finisher Matt Pitton (195), earned a state berth on a wrestleback victory over Harley Schmidt of Roosevelt, who he pinned in 43 seconds.

“I saw some mistakes he was making in his earlier matches, and he gave me a chance,” said Pitton, whose takedown and pin came less than 10 seconds apart. “This feels so great, without a doubt.”

Delta and Glenwood Springs, neither of which had a regional champ, will each send four wrestlers to the state meet. Delta’s Morgan McCracken finished second at 145 after losing by technical fall to Hudson in the weight-class final, and the Demons had three third-place finishers in Miguel Vega (106), Zak Stepinewski (113) and Brian Ochoa (285).


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