Paonia’s Adrian Lopez focused on placing
Paonia High School wrestler Adrian Lopez was an afterthought at the 2010 state wrestling tournament.
Lopez had finished fifth as a freshman at 130 pounds, but after a dislocated elbow forced him to miss the first half of his sophomore season, Lopez entered last year’s state tournament 16-9.
Lopez won his first-round match against Fowler’s Andrew Tomlin, but was defeated by Ignacio’s Casey Haga in the second round.
Lopez showed his grit, pinning Jack Woods of Custer County during wrestlebacks, but had his sophomore campaign end in the next round in a 7-5 overtime loss to Rocky Ford’s Michael Smithey.
“I had a rough season battling (back) from an injury,” Lopez said. “Missing the first half of the season, I missed all that conditioning and I would have gone further if I could have done more.”
Lopez didn’t leave anything to chance this season. Now at 135 pounds, he finished 34-5 this season, including sweeping the Western Regional tournament, pinning all three of his opponents.
None of his regional matches lasted through the second period.
“It feels good to be going back over the hill,” Lopez said. “I’m confident and have been pushing myself extra hard.”
Lopez is the No. 2 seed, and in the first round, takes on Tyler Hutson of Peyton, who is 18-17.
Hayden’s Scott Armbuster, Holly’s Jace Nordyke and Yuma’s Matt Seifert are all top competitors in Lopez’s bracket.
The top seed is Holyoke’s Skyler Dittmer (32-6). Dittmer defeated Lopez when they were both freshmen in the 130-pound state tournament consolation bracket.
“My goal has been state since day one,” Lopez said. “I’ve worked for it, and I’ll continue to push for it.”
Lopez has 11 of his teammates joining him in Denver. The only two weight classes the Eagles don’t have represented are 112 and 119 pounds.
Paonia won the state team championship in 2006 and 2009, and has enough wrestlers in the tournament to make another run.
“We think we have a chance and that’s how we’ll approach it,” Paonia coach Andy Pipher said. “They had a great regional and I have a good feeling we’ll be ready.”