For the entire season, Palisade’s Lodan Head has been looking forward to his matchup with Central’s Jason Pollard.
Pollard entered Tuesday night’s 145-pound matchup ranked fourth in Class 4A with Head not ranked.
The Bulldogs’ senior trailed 7-6 with 60 seconds left in the third period of the match when he took control. A one-point escape tied the match and a two-point takedown by Head with 45 seconds left game him a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. Head defeated Pollard 12-7.
“I’ve been looking forward to my match with Jason all year,” Head said. “I knew it was going to be a good match. I’m just happy to have finally done it. I look forward to going up against more highly ranked guys in the future.”
Head’s upset win was one of the brightest moments in a night filled with them for Palisade. The Bulldogs beat Central 54-15 after topping Montrose 43-31 earlier.
A pair of wins over Southwestern League adversaries will only increase the confidence for a Bulldogs squad with six ranked wrestlers.
“Conditioning, conditioning, conditioning,” Palisade’s Judah Guajardo said of what it took to beat Central. “Conditioning is so important. For this dual, we’ve been waiting for this for a long time, so we know what they do as a team. We’ve been practicing that over and over again in practice.”
Guajardo, No. 3 at 132 and second in the Metro Region, pinned both of his opponents to continue his winning ways. However, he missed out on a chance to face a wrestler he “definitely” wants to face in his prep career: Central’s Davian Sandoval, No. 3 at 126.
Guajardo and Sandoval both began the season in the top four at 126, where they would compete for one of the two spots in a crowded regional field, but Guajardo moved up a weight class near the beginning of the season.
“Davian’s a good wrestler, definitely,” Guajardo said. “The rankings reflect that well. I never really got to wrestle him in recent years, but I’d like to wrestle him. It would be fun.”
Sandoval still got to wrestle in a ranked matchup, pinning eighth-ranked Jacob Lee after 54 seconds.
“It’s just another match on my way to regionals,” Sandoval said. “I’m just trying to work new things. I try to set a plan before each match. I may not have accomplished what I set out to do, but that’s just another opportunity for improvement, I guess. It’s just a match. All of this is pretty much practice for me, but I’m just trying to have fun in my last year.
“I think I’ve been doing really well with my attitude and staying in it, my routine, getting down to weight and getting in the right headspace before matches.”
For Palisade, Keyton Young (No. 8 at 120), Dawson David (182) and Usiel Romero (195) won by pin. Franklin Barks (No. 10 at 152) and Zach Barnett (No. 15 at 160) held on for 6-4 and 6-2 decisions over Jaysten Sanchez and Devin Hickey, respectively.
In the Bulldogs’ first dual against Montrose, Tyrus Despain (106), Guajardo, Phallen Salvati (138) and Head all pinned their foes, with Barks and Barnett adding 18-3 and 18-4 major decision victories to propel the Bulldogs.
The Indians’ ranked wrestlers went 4-0 in the dual, including a win in the lone ranked matchup. At 120, Montrose’s Kamron Alegria, No. 4 in the state in the weight class and No. 1 in the Pueblo Region, defeated No. 8 Young 11-5.
“These kinds of matches help me get ready for the big goal: state,” Alegria said. “I’m just trying to get better every time I wrestle and improve constantly so I can be No. 1. I feel like, today, I did a really good job with my offense on my feet, but I really need to work on the bottom.”
The Indians, trailing 43-7, finished the match with four straight pins to close the gap, with Isaiah Alcazar pinning Dawson David at 182, No. 3 Raul Martinez pinning Usiel Romero at 195, No. 4 Dmarian Lopez pinning Angel Guerente at 220 and No. 4 Brandon Van Nooten pinning Caleb Castro in the heavyweight match.
Another bright spot for Montrose was Adriel Martinez’s 10-1 major decision at 113 over 10th-ranked Mikey Salazar.