Simianer one of 8 Paonia wrestlers to advance in Class 2A

Paonia’s Joel Simianer escapes the grasp of Wray’s Aaron Escamilla-Perez on Thursday on his way to pinning Escamilla-Perez in 3:37 in the first round of the Class 2A state tournament at the Pepsi Center.

DENVER — Joel Simianer was like a lot of his Paonia High School teammates Thursday, winning his first-round match at the Class 2A state wrestling tournament.

He was unlike most of the Eagles’ eight pinfall winners, however, in that he had to get his pin against an opponent with a winning record, and for that matter, a better record than his own.

After a scoreless first period, Simianer (25-13) opened the second period with an escape, then took Wray senior Aaron Escamilla-Perez (26-11) down to his back on the edge of the mat with 1 minute, 15 seconds left in the period. Simianer was awarded the takedown, but not a near fall, as the official ruled the wrestlers were out of bounds.

No matter. A half-minute later he turned Escamilla-Perez for a pin in 3 minutes, 37 seconds.

“He was good,” said Simianer, a 6-foot-4 junior who weighs only 190 pounds. “There are guys who weigh all of 220 and are that tall (about 5-8), where it’s tough for me. I have to wait for them to make a mistake.”

His reward is an even tougher match in this morning’s quarterfinals. Simianer faces Center senior Luis Mariscal (30-4), who beat Simianer a couple of times last year and once this season.

“I lost to him by pin late in the second period,” Simianer said of the early season loss to Mariscal. “Coaches worked hard with me to make sure it won’t happen again.”

Two-time defending state team champion Paonia, which sent 10 wrestlers to the Pepsi Center, leads the team standings after Day 1 of the three-day tournament with 32 points. Meeker and Norwood are tied for second with 24 points apiece.

Some of the Eagles had fairly easy routes to the quarterfinals. Two-time state champion Jesse Reed (37-0) needed only 25 seconds to send his opponent into the consolation bracket at 126 pounds with a 2-15 record.

Bo Pipher’s opponent at 132 is now 8-19 after he stuck him in the second period. Ty Coats (152) pinned a five-win opponent in the second period, and Logan Schopp (170) pinned a four-win kid in the first period.

Opponents with losing records aren’t to be taken for granted, though.

“Those are the ones you have to be careful about. … I don’t care if you’re facing a guy with two wins or two losses, you have to come out and wrestle hard or you’re going into the consolation bracket the next day,” Paonia coach Andy Pipher said.

The other Eagles winning first-round matches were Josh Altman (120), Zach Milner (160) and Tony Darling (285).

The Eagles lost only two matches, and one of those, Colton Godwin’s match at 106 pounds, nearly went Paonia’s way.

Godwin, a freshman, led 10-6 after turning Lyons sophomore William Hickman a couple of times for near falls in the second period, but Hickman rallied to tie the match 10-10 going into the final period. Then, Hickman got the final takedown of the match with 1:15 left, and Godwin escaped with 21 seconds left in Hickman’s 12-11 victory.

Meeker matched Paonia with 10 state qualifiers, but the Cowboys couldn’t quite keep pace in the first round, winning six matches, all by pin.

Meeker coach J.C. Watt was happy with his wrestlers who won, freshman Sheridan Harvey (106), junior Tristin Pelloni (113), senior J.C. Henderson (138), sophomore Devon Pontine (160), sophomore T.J. Shelton (170) and freshman Tyler Ilgen (285).

Pontine said getting to state a year ago as a freshman helped him this time around. Last year, he entered state as a second-place finisher at regionals, but he lost his first-round match, then won two consolation matches before losing again and missing out on wrestling for a medal.

A runner-up at regionals again this year, he took control of his opening state match against Holyoke’s Luke Stewart (22-16) with a first-period takedown. In the second period, he got Stewart in a near-side cradle and worked it until he scored the pin in 2:59.

“He was a tough kid,” Pontine said. “Wrestling is skill and luck, and I managed to get lucky and catch him. … You find the smallest opportunity to hit something, and you catch it or miss it, that’s why you say it’s lucky when you do. I had the opportunity to hit that cradle, and I got it and locked it up.”


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