Quickness important in first round for 3A wrestlers

Grand Valley’s Jared Tonder, back, had one of the quickest matches in Thursday’s first round, pinning Zach McEhloes in 26 seconds.

DENVER — For wrestlers who have competed in the state tournament before, the first round is all about getting off the mat as quickly as possible.

Western Slope wrestlers in Thursday’s first round of the Class 3A tournament did a good job of conserving as much energy as possible for today’s quarterfinals and semifinals.

Grand Valley’s Jared Tonder epitomized the need for speed.

A third-place finisher in the past two Class 2A state tournaments, and a fourth-place finisher as a freshman, Tonder knows what to do when he gets to the Pepsi Center floor.

“You’re not here to waste time,” he said after his pin of Zach McEhloes of Discovery Canyon in 26 seconds.

“When you get here you give it your all,” Tonder said. “That means doing it as quick as you can.”

Tonder finished third in regionals in his first three years. This year he won the Class 3A Region 1 tournament.

Is that a good omen?

“I sure hope so,” he said.

Tonder’s teammate, Ryan Gallegos, was nearly as efficient, stopping Josh Sees of Lutheran in 31 seconds.

Grand Valley advanced five of its seven wrestlers to this morning’s quarterfinals.

“No real surprises,” Cardinals coach Rick Gallegos said.

The five Cardinals who advanced all won by pin, including 152-pounder Tyler Miles, who won the Class 2A 152-pound state title last year.

Miles was upended by Kyle Piatt of Olathe in the regional finals.

“I was kind of hoping to do better (at regionals),” Miles said, although the loss provided motivation for him in the practice room this week.

“I worked hard,” he said. “We all worked hard.”

Miles faces Florence’s Matt Addington, the Class 3A 140-pound state champion last year, in today’s quarterfinals.

Piatt was one of nine Olathe wrestlers to advance to the quarterfinals.

“You can’t pass one kid because everybody’s coming to win it,” Piatt said. “You’ve been here before, you know what it is, you know what to do.”

The Pirates’ two losses came from wrestlers who finished fourth in the region.

“I thought the kids wrestled well overall,” Olathe coach Harvey Starbuck said.

JC Jimenez (160) won in overtime and JD Jimenez (189) won 2-1. Heavyweight Tyler Hawk won 2-0.

“Those tight matches, those were the ones we needed,” Starbuck said.

Coal Ridge qualified only three wrestlers, but all three won in the first round.

Neal Schultz (125), Keenan Grumley (140) and Bradey Gasaway (189) all won by pin.

Hotchkiss went 4-4 in the first round.

Leo Elizaldi (112), Ryan Spor (125), Caleb Wyatt (145) and Michael Beard (215) advanced for the Bulldogs.

The 3A quarterfinals begin at 10 a.m. today, followed by the first round of consolation, which continues throughout the day.

Tonight’s semifinals for all classes begin at 7:15.


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