Voytilla gives credit to teammate for his title

Fruita Monument High School senior Clayton Voytilla was quick to credit teammate Jared Seely for helping him improve his single-leg and double-leg takedowns this season. That improvement led to Voytilla winning the Class 5A 285-pound state title Saturday night.

Josiah Rider became the latest in his family to win a state title when he defeated Cherry Creek’s Matt Finesilver in the 152-pound title match.

Central High School’s Riley Garner-Orr, right, claimed third place in the state tournament, and treated himself to Dippin’ Dots afterwards.

Jared Seely, thank you.

That was one of the messages Fruita Monument senior Clayton Voytilla shared during this past weekend’s Colorado state wrestling tournament, which Voytilla concluded with the Class 5A state title at 285 pounds.

Voytilla had great wrestling partners during his career, with guys like Jacob Seely, Chase Clayton and Ty Taylor to challenge him in the practice room. But that trio graduated last year, and fellow Wildcat senior Jared Seely bulked up to 195 pounds this year and became Voytilla’s regular practice partner.

Getting mentally tougher and more confident as a senior went a long way in taking Voytilla to his state title. He needed that to take the next step after reaching the semifinals as a junior and placing fourth.

Voytilla said he also needed what his coaches and Jared Seely taught him this year: How to shoot for single- and double-leg takedowns.

Voytilla said his shot was weak, primarily because he relied on throws to take down his opponents. With Seely’s help in the practice room, Voytilla no longer was a one-trick pony.

“Jared helped teach me my shot this year. I have to thank him for that,” said Voytilla, who finished 40-3 this season. “He helped me get that down, being able to take shots instead of just throwing. To be a (heavyweight) state champ, you have to be able to shoot. It’s a big factor.”


Seely hoped to join Voytilla as a state champ this year, but he lost to eventual champion Trenton Schultz of Mountain Vista 5-4 in overtime in a quarterfinal at 195.

After a scoreless first overtime with the wrestlers on their feet for a minute, each got 30 seconds from the bottom position to score whatever they could. Seely went first and was unable to escape. Schultz took his turn on the bottom and got an escape with 16 seconds left, then tied up Seely, denying him the chance at a winning takedown.

In other words, Seely came as close as it gets to winning without winning.

Seely (42-5) ended up placing fifth at state. All of his losses this season were close decisions, no more than three points. Two of them were to Schultz, and two were against 5A third-place finisher Zach Gomez of Arvada West. Seely took both of them to overtime once.


Grand Junction sophomore Josiah Rider entered high school with a realistic goal of being a four-time state champ. His first state tournament, however, went horribly wrong in the quarterfinals when the flu sapped Rider worse than the illness had ever hit him.

He was also wrestling light for a 145-pounder, as he had to drink a large amount of water prior to weigh-ins on the third day of state last year in order to make the minimum weight allowed to wrestle at 145.

He could have wrestled at 138 as a freshman, but he moved up to 145, so his brother Isaac, a senior, could move down to 138 and have a better chance at winning a state title. Isaac made good on this brother’s sacrifice and won the state championship.

Rider said Saturday after winning the state title at 152, he has no regrets about the previous year’s move, adding family bonds trump any number of state titles he could win.

Isaac Rider, who now wrestles for Colorado Mesa University, was in Denver’s Pepsi Center on Saturday night to watch Josiah win his state championship.

“It just meant the world to me,” Isaac said of Josiah’s win. “I’m pretty much speechless.”

In a nod to his brother, Josiah also celebrated his championship by doing “the archer,” pretending to a shoot an arrow in the direction of the Grand Junction fans. It was the same thing Isaac did a year earlier.

Josiah also joined his father, Trever Rider, as a state champion.

“I’m thrilled. I’m ecstatic,” Trever said. “It definitely is a high, another notch in his belt. I couldn’t be more proud of him.”


Grand Junction wrestling coach Cole Allison knows as well as anyone what Josiah Rider did for his brother a year ago and what derailed his title bid, and that’s why it was important to the coach to see Josiah get the gold medal this year.

“Josiah Rider could’ve been a four-time state champion,” Allison said, “but because of circumstances and him making the sacrifice for his brother, it didn’t happen.

“He put the work in, he’s a team guy, and this trip (to state) was about Joe.”


Rider’s only loss in 38 matches happened early in the season against Pueblo County’s Hunter Willits, who easily marched to the 4A state crown at 152.

Rider’s loss came five weeks after he had beaten Willits at the Super 32 Challenge in North Carolina, where Rider in his next match suffered a hamstring injury. Rider still placed fifth in one of the toughest high school tournaments in the nation.

Rider’s hamstring wasn’t fully healed when Grand Junction wrestled Pueblo County at a dual tournament, and he said he probably shouldn’t have wrestled that day, but he wanted the competition that Willits provides.

Rider added there’s no shame in losing to Willits, a three-time state champ who will go for his fourth next season. More than that, they’re good friends.

“I stay at his house a lot,” said Rider, who often finds himself on the Front Range for wrestling or to show livestock in competitions. “They’re the nicest family you can ever meet.”


Montrose heavyweight Sam Distel decided it was time to give wrestling a shot this year, and the junior is happy he did.

“It’s been really fun,” he said, but added, “It’s had it’s ups and downs.”

One of those downs was losing 1-0 in a Class 4A third-place match. But fourth place for a first-year wrestler made for a memorable tournament.

“I exceeded my own expectations by medaling. It definitely will bring me back next year,” he said.

Distel also was competing in an engineering competition across town with an underwater robot he designed. As of Saturday night he hadn’t found out if he placed at that event, but he said it was fun competing in two different competitions.

Montrose coach Neil Samples was glad Distel, a third-place finisher in the shot put at the 4A state track and field meet last spring, decided to try a second sport. It’s fair to say Distel exceeded expectations by placing at state, but Samples wasn’t totally surprised.

“He’s a big boy and decently athletic for a big kid,” Samples said. “And he was brand new to the sport, so he didn’t have any bad habits to break.”


After winning his third-place match in Class 5A, Central junior Riley Garner-Orr had a large welt under his right eye, a cut on the outside corner of that same eye, and his forehead was dotted with spots of blood from his headgear rubbing against it. But he was smiling as he ate Dippin’ Dots.

“It’s been a month,” he said of the last time he had the ice-cream treat. “They’re awesome.”

Daily Sentinel reporter Dale Shrull contributed to this column.


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