Worth the wait
Collins credited with winning takedown in OT to help GJ win Warrior
Dawson Collins knew he had it. The toughest part for him was waiting.
Thanks in part to what came after that wait, the much-longer wait for a Warrior Classic team title by a District 51 school is over.
Collins, a Grand Junction High School freshman, went into double overtime against Pueblo South’s Xavier Espinoza in the Warrior Classic’s 106-pound title match. With the score tied 3-3 and time winding down, Collins took a shot on the outer edge of the circle and took down Espinoza with 14 seconds remaining.
The referees didn’t give Collins the takedown at first, even though plenty of Grand Junction fans did. Collins, however, was awarded the takedown and a 5-3 victory after a referee conference, giving him the weight-class championship.
“I knew I had the takedown because I looked back at where my feet were, and they were in,” said Collins, who improved to 15-0. “But I was a little scared. To have to wait and get that with only 14 seconds left? Man.”
It turned out to be one of three championships that wrapped up an even bigger title for the Tigers, who won their first Warrior Classic team title since 1992 and flirted with the 40-year-old tournament’s all-time points record.
Central was the last District 51 team to win the Warrior team title, claiming the crown in 1995.
As for that point record, the Tigers were only a win or two away. Their 242.5 points was just short of the record 246.5 scored in 2001 by Moffat County, and a 6-5 win by Shawn Garcia in the 220-pound third-place match gave Grand Junction just enough to eclipse the 242 scored by Green River, Wyoming, in 1995.
“It’s fun and it’s something to shoot for,” Grand Junction coach Cole Allison said. “We as a coaching staff preach bonus points and we preach aggression. We knew late that we were close and, since we were, we figured, ‘Hey, why not?’
“We’re proud of this group, we’re proud of the point total and we’re proud of the placing. But at the same time, we see lots of spots where we can improve.”
Grand Junction junior Dylan Martinez rode out a 6-2 victory against Shandon Bradford of Monticello, Utah, in the 132-pound title match, adding a crown to his second-place finish as a freshman and his third-place finish as a sophomore.
Winning a Warrior Classic championship for the third consecutive year was junior Josiah Rider, whose pin of Fruita Monument’s Daniel Van Hoose at 145 pounds solidified his No. 1 ranking in the weight class’ top classification.
Rider became the 13th three-time champion in tournament history and did it at the expense of Van Hoose, whose record dropped to 14-1.
“I knew Jo was a good wrestler, but ... you never really know for sure until you’re out there,” Van Hoose said. “But this is a tough tournament. There’s a lot of guys who place at state who can’t even earn a place here, and this is probably the toughest field that I’ve seen here. So that still makes me happy about how I finished, but that still means I have to go back to work to see how I can get better.”
Central was third with 150 points. Along with the 170-pound title won by E.J. Barrera, the Warriors’ Riley Garner-Orr won the 138-pound third-place match 4-2, beating Zach Musselman of Monticello. That came not long after his 2-1 loss in the semifinals to Rock Canyon’s Gunner Anderson.
Garner-Orr last year won the Warrior Classic’s 132-pound title with a 1-0 victory over Van Hoose.
Central’s Andrez Martinez was fourth at 126, Robert Shenk was fifth at heavyweight and 106-pounder Jacob McClaskey took sixth.
For Fruita, Remington McLean went to a tiebreaker with Chris Moschetti of Moffat County in the fifth-place match before losing 7-5.
Winning the tournament’s award as the top lightweight wrestler was Pueblo East’s Jace Trujillo, who along with Rider became a three-time Warrior Classic champ when he won the 113-pound title.
Pine Creek’s Garrett Niel, who won the 182-pound title, was the tourney’s top upper-weight wrestler.