Warrior really is among state’s best tourneys

Grand Junction’s Louis Guillen gets Pueblo South’s Austin Zuniga on his back Saturday in a 145-pound third-place match at the Warrior Classic. Guillen won 2-1 and was the highest finisher for the Tigers.

Fruita Monument’s Ty Taylor gets the upper hand against Durango’s Patrick Cunnion on Saturday in a fifth-place match at 182 pounds in the Warrior Classic. Taylor won 9-2.

A lot of coaches like to talk about the various tournaments they go to as “one of the toughest around.”

Obviously, that can’t be the case with every such claim, so to see where the Warrior Classic ranks in Colorado, On the Mat Wrestling’s Tim Yount is as qualified to rank them as anyone.

The Warrior Classic is one of the top three in the state, said Yount, who was at the Warrior both days. The other two are the Top of the Rockies, hosted in January by Centaurus, and the Christmas Classic, hosted by the University of Northern Colorado.

“Top of the Rockies is probably the toughest right now,” said Yount, who runs On the Mat out of Monument.

What sets Top of the Rockies apart is it brings in five or six top-flight out-of-state schools, and the organizers change up Colorado teams every year, paying attention to schools that will have some of the best returning lineups and inviting them. The tourney has about 26 teams each year.

“They always cycle in those good teams,” Yount said. “There are state medalists that won’t win a match at that tournament. There are state champions that won’t place there.”

Between the Warrior and the Christmas Classic, Yount says flip a coin.

The Christmas Classic is a larger tournament, hosting 50 to 60 teams. The Warrior gets 35 to 40 schools and can claim it has a few more of the top teams in the state.

If you’re wondering about Yount’s credentials, he goes to a major tournament every weekend, plus he analyzes the results of about 25 tourneys from each weekend. Then, he adjusts his team and individual rankings for all four Colorado classes each week.


Fruita Monument made a nice climb up the team standings on the second day and finished fourth.

In addition to 195-pound champion Jacob Seely, the Wildcats got a third-place finish from Ian Konrad at 126, fourth-place finishes from Kaden Fife (152) and Chase Clayton (220) and fifth place from Ty Taylor.

“We did well,” Fruita coach Dan Van Hoose said. “I’m happy with the five kids who placed for us.

“Our kids are getting better each week. We’re nowhere near where we want to be, but we’re moving in the right direction.”


All of Grand Junction’s semifinalists — Tyren Castonguay (106), Cody Lacy (113) and Louis Guillen (145) — lost in that round.

Castonguay had the closest match, bowing 4-2 to Douglas County junior Tanner Mooney, who is ranked seventh in Class 5A.

Guillen found out why Arvada West junior Payton Tawater entered the tournament as a two-time Warrior champion. Tawater beat Guillen by technical fall, 15-0 in the second period.

Guillen said he made things too easy for Tawater, whom he hopes to face again in several weeks.

“I just didn’t move my feet at all,” Guillen said. “That made it easy for him to get some takedowns, and once he was on top, he was really good on top.

“Hopefully I see him again in the Arvada West Tournament. I just have to go back in the (wrestling) room, work on my feet, work on my mistakes.”

Tawater, however, did not follow up with this third Warrior title. Instead, Uintah senior Beau Blackham escaped with four seconds left in the match for a 5-4 victory.

After the medal ceremony, Tawater threw his second-place medal away.

Guillen followed his loss with two wins, scoring a third-period reversal to win 2-1 in the third-place match.

Lacy placed fourth for the second straight year. Castonguay placed sixth.


Arvada West senior Tony Silva-Bussey, Class 5A’s top-ranked 170-pounder, rallied late for a 9-8 win over Class 4A’s top-ranked wrestler, Seager Oliver of Montezuma-Cortez in the semifinals.

Silva-Bussey led 6-3 in the second, but Oliver came back with two takedowns, the second one putting him up 8-6 with 38 seconds left in the third. Silva, however, escaped, got a takedown with 18 seconds left, then held on as Oliver was close to a reversal as the buzzer sounded.

Silva-Bussey went on to win the championship at 170.


Fountain-Fort Carson was the bane of area wrestlers in the semifinals, defeating two Paonia wrestlers and one from Fruita Monument.

Downy Wood notched the first one, denying Paonia’s Bo Pipher a return to the Warrior finals by rallying for a 4-3 win at 132 pounds.

At 152, Paonia’s Ty Coats made a late charge from a 5-2 deficit to force overtime, but FFC’s Rashawn Benford got the takedown 24 seconds into the extra session.

At 182, FFC’s Cody Driver decisioned Fruita’s Ty Taylor 11-4, knocking off the top seed.

Paonia did get the better of FFC in one semifinal. Zach Milner’s match with FFC’s Jason Miller was tied 4-4 in the second period, but Milner pulled away for an 11-6 win.


Rocky Mountain entered the tournament ranked No. 2 in Class 5A behind Arvada West, but it was No. 1 when all was said and done at the Warrior Classic, finishing with 193 points, two more than runner-up and defending champion Paonia.

The Lobos had two champions, one second-place finisher, two third places and two fourth places.

Rocky Mountain coach Ken Taylor, a Hotchkiss native, said winning the tournament is a great accomplishment because of the competition.

“(Paonia has) an unbelievable team. Arvada West has an unbelievable team. We just kind of put it together and won some key matches,” Taylor said.


Arvada West finished third in the team standings, 8.5 points behind Rocky Mountain, and might have been the champion, but the Wildcats had to make do without their 220-pounder, Devin Rothrock, who stayed behind to take make-up finals.

“He could have won this tournament,” Arvada West coach Ron Granieri said. “He’d have been a force here. He’s something else. That’s 28 points we could have had from him.

Arvada West did not have a replacement for him at 220, so it scored no points at the weight.


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