Tournament’s move back to Brownson draws praise
For the past decade, the Warrior Classic has moved back and forth between Mesa State College and Central High School.
It’s back at Brownson Arena for the first time since 2006.
The move appears to meet everyone’s approval, from Mesa State Athletic Director Butch Miller and Mesa wrestling coach Chuck Pipher, to School District 51 Athletic Director Paul Cain and Central Athletic Director Randy Powell.
“We meet with Paul, Randy and the (tournament) committee,” Miller said. “Showing them our new facilities sold itself with the stands up above (on the east side).
“We have six mats, everybody gets to watch. For the wrestlers and the fans, it’s a perfect place for it.”
The new upstairs bleachers on the east side add 600 seats, Miller said. It was one of the big reasons District 51 and Central High School agreed to move the tournament. When it was at Central, both gyms had to be used, which had wrestlers, coaches and fans shuttling back and forth. At Mesa, fans can watch the action on all six mats in one location.
“Some changes were made, including the wrestling room and added seating,” Cain said. “That was huge. Even with the extra seating, we are still near capacity.”
The wrestlers can warm up in the new wrestling room, located just behind the gymnasium.
Although the tournament is at Mesa State, it is still Central’s tournament.
“Central gets the gate and concessions,” Miller said. “It’s their baby. Our thing was being able to sell the suites (on the west side of the gym) to the teams or whoever. Chuck got Roosevelt to buy a suite. Nate Miller, a local businessman, bought one. The suites were the only things we asked for.”
Cain was fine with that.
District 51 pulls in anywhere from $3,000-$4,000 in revenue in the two days.
“We put it back into the program,” Cain said. “We’ve bought mats and the scoreboards. We have to pay the officials and they came from all over the state.”
Cain’s only concern is parking. The two-level parking garage at Brownson Arena was full all weekend, and fans and team buses were parking across the street or in a dormitory lot next to the athletic complex.
“The parking is a mess, but with them working on the new parking garage (on the corner of 12th Street and Elm Avenue), that will be a plus,” Cain said.
More parking is a good indication the tournament could return to Mesa next year and in the future.
“We haven’t talked long-term,” Cain said. “The tournament committee will sit down together after getting the feeling of the coaches. I’ve asked spectators. I know from a pure wrestling standpoint, the fans can see all six matches at once. We want to keep the quality of the tournament.”
Central coach Laurence Gurule said the coaches like having the tournament back on campus.
“I’d love to keep it here,” Gurule said. “The hardest part is bringing everything (including the mats) here.”
Pipher likes the exposure his program gets with so many potential recruits on campus, but that’s not his main concern.
“This had to work for everybody,” Pipher said. “It had to work for us; it had to work for Central. We can still make improvements on (when to start each round) and we can do some more things with seating.”
CLASS 4A DOMIANCE
Four of the Classic’s top six teams and five of the top eight compete in Colorado’s Class 4A, including Montrose and Palisade.
The Indians placed third with 10 wrestlers. Palisade took sixth.
“When we came here, we thought we could finish in the top 10,” Montrose coach Kevin Passehl said. “(Friday) night, we started thinking we could finish in the top five.
“The kids have been working so hard. It’s good to see it pay off.”
Six of Montrose’s wrestlers placed, led by 189-pound champion Jordan Passehl. Montrose wrestlers combined for 22 pins.
Palisade came into the tournament ranked seventh in 4A, and finished ahead of fourth-ranked Pueblo South. Palisade had four medal winners, led by Wesley Shingleton’s third-place finish at 145 pounds.
Daniel Salazar took fifth place in the highly regarded 119-pound weight class, pinning Farmington’s Eduardo Trevizo in 4:23. Salazar lost to eventual runner-up and returning 5A state champion Jeremey Schmitt in the quarterfinals before winning two matches to reach the medal round.
“I’m happy how we wrestled,” Palisade coach Brian Rush said. “We won some big matches, but it’s one tournament. You’ve got to take the good with the bad and keep working. The kids are happy, but they want to get better.”
Grand Junction’s Jessie Hoffschneider and Fruita Monument’s Anthony Martin made it all the way to the championship final to place for the first time in the Warrior Classic, but came up short of titles.
Hoffschneider (12-1), beat Utah 3A state champion Damon Mele in the quarterfinals but lost to Grand Valley’s Jared Tonder 10-0 in the 140-pound final.
“I feel I didn’t do my best,” Hoffschneider said. “It didn’t end the way I wanted it to. I think I was too satisfied making the finals. I have unfinished business here.”
Martin’s goal before the tournament started was to place in the top six, but after reaching the final, he was looking to win the heavyweight title.
Instead, Pueblo South’s Chris Maynes won a 10-1 decision.
“I wasn’t expecting a lot of the stuff he did,” Martin (15-1) said. “I didn’t think he’d shoot as much as he did.”