Alamosa senior Kole Kelley wrenches the neck of Centauri's Christopher Martin in the 132 pound championship. Kelley would win the title via the pin but both wrestlers will advance to state.
Courier Photo by Eric R. Flores
Courier Sports Editor
MONTE VISTA—San Luis Valley wrestling fans were treated to one of the closest regional tournaments ever as it came down to the second to last final’s match before a champion was crowned in the Class 3A Regional 4 Tournament here at Monte Vista High School on Saturday afternoon.
As the final whistle blew in the 220 pound championship match, the No. 2 ranked Centauri Falcons narrowly captured the tournament title as the final team scores had Centauri with 115 points and the No. 1 ranked Alamosa Mean Moose sitting in second place with 114 1/2 points.
“It’s the closest regional tournament I have ever been involved in,” said Falcon Head Coach Randy Keys at the end of the tournament. “Hopefully we will have some confidence going forward. We aren’t taking some kids downtown that we expected to and I’m sure Alamosa’s in the same spot.”
Wrestleback matches hurt the Falcons as two of their fourth place finishers were upended and had their spots taken away.
"We may have won the battle but it looks like we have lost the war," said Keys on Monday afternoon after brackets were released. "It's still going to be a close state competition between Valley (ranked No. 3 in the state) and Alamosa. Hopefully the title can stay here in the San Luis Valley."
In all, the San Luis Valley has 55 wrestlers heading to the state meet on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Of those 55 athletes, 23 come from the 3A ranks including seven from Centauri. They include Patrick Esparsen (106), Ethan Coombs (126), Christopher Martin (132), Jason Buhr (145), Micah Keys (160), Jensen Hamilton (170) and Jereb Aziz (182).
Alamosa has ten wrestlers who will participate and attempt to help Alamosa win their third straight Class 3A title. Tel Kelley (106), David Gallegos (113), Neff Malouff (120), Kole Kelley (132), Brandon Heredia (138), Dillon Vance (145), Chris Aguirre (170), Gunner Robinson (182), Nick Jones (195) and Pablo Villarreal (220).
Monte Vista qualified six wrestlers including Diondre Garcia (106), Jose Duran (113), Cody Cowan (126), Garrett Pacheco (152), Austin Vance (160), and Isaac Medina (182).
A recap of the Class 2A Region 2 tournament where the Center Vikings were crowned tournament champions will appear in Wednesday’s edition of the Valley Courier.
Entering the championship matches on Saturday, Centauri led the race to the crown, 197 to 192 1/2 points over Alamosa.
The 106 match was between No. 1 ranked sophomore Tel Kelley of Alamosa and No. 3 ranked junior Diondre Garcia of Monte Vista. The two wrestlers took a strategic approach to the match as both were able to lock up but only for several stalemate calls to be made by the official. With less than 15 seconds left in the first period, Kelley was able to get a take down and take a 2-0 lead into the second period.
With Kelley starting in the top position, he was able to get an early tilt and get two near-fall points before Garcia gained some momentum and got an escape to make the score 4-2 after two periods. Unfortunately for Garcia, Kelley controlled a majority of the third period only allowing Garcia to get a single point with eight seconds remaining as he was able to escape. Kelley earned the regional title with a 4-3 win.
At 113 pounds, Monte Vista freshman Jose Duran, who is ranked No. 12, was on the short side of an 11-0 win by No. 6 ranked Florence senior Dillon Bellino. The 120-pound match was easily decided as Alamosa senior Neff Malouff, who entered the tournament ranked No. 2, was awarded an injury default win over Dolores Huerta’s Christian Guerrero.
At 126 pounds, Monte Vista junior Cody Cowan, who was ranked No. 10 in the state, captured the individual crown as he used several takedowns for an 11-5 win over Bayfield sophomore Colter McMenimen, who was ranked No. 6.
No. 2 ranked senior Kole Kelley of Alamosa won the 132 pound championship as he took a 4-2 lead into the third period of the match with Centauri freshman Christopher Martin. Kelley got a quick take down and needed an additional 41 seconds to get a pin over Martin.
Dolores Huerta junior Jared Mestas, who was ranked No. 1 in the state, had little trouble in the title match at 138 pounds as he got an 18-3 technical fall in 4:21 over Alamosa senior Brandon Heredia, who was ranked No. 7.
Centauri junior Jason Buhr, who entered the tournament with a 26-2 record and ranked No. 1 at 145 pounds, needed 5:08 to capture the tournament crown as he pinned Colorado Springs Christian sophomore Conner Craddock. The win closed the gap in the team score to 208 1/2 points for Alamosa and 203 points for Centauri.
The 152 pound match was a defensive match up as Dolores Huerta sophomore Julian Gallegos (No. 7) nabbed a 1-0 win over Monte Vista senior Garrett Pacheco.
No. 1 ranked Micah Keys of Centauri and No. 3 ranked Austin Vance of Monte Vista each had a shot at winning the 160 pound title. Keys was able to get a takedown in the first quarter before he got another take down and two near-fall points to get a 6-0 lead. Out of nowhere, Vance found a loophole and got a reversal and used his muscle to turn Keys to his back for three near-fall points. Just as it seemed he would get a pin, Keys powered out and got a reversal of his own, this time he was able to stick Vance to the mat for a pin in 3:44.
The pin gave the Falcons a half point lead, 209 to 208 1/2.
No. 11 Jensen Hamilton of Centauri stunned the packed house as he was able find an opening as just over three minutes eclipsed in the 170 pound match. He was able to force No. 7 ranked Morgan Shelton of Pagosa Springs to his back and get a pin in 3:33 to increase the Falcon’s lead to 215 to 208 1/2.
Alamosa junior Gunner Robinson dominated the 182 pound title match as the No. 1 ranked wrestler pinned No. 2 ranked Jerab Aziz of Centauri. The pin came in 1:28 putting Alamosa in control of their own fate. If their lone wrestler left could win his match the Moose would win the team title.
The opportunity would not be cashed in as No. 2 ranked Brian Shaw of Trinidad nabbed a 15-3 major decision over Alamosa senior Pablo Villarreal.
In the consolation rounds there was some heartbreak, in particular, Alamosa’s 152-pounder, Nate Henry was in control of Centauri’s James Richardson but with the clock struck five minutes into the match, Henry, who had been attempting to get back points, found his shoulders on the mat and Richardson was awarded with a defensive pin.
Entering the placement matches, Alamosa led Centauri by two and a half points, 182 1/2 to 180.
The fifth place matches led off the placement matches. At 106 pounds, Fabian Guerrero of Dolores Huerta clinched fifth place with a pin over Jacob Bedford of Colorado Springs Christian. At 113 pounds, Taylor Winch of Bayfield got a 17-1 technical fall over Vince Santistevan of Trinidad.
Bayfield’s Tyler Beebe pinned Manitou Spring’s Michale Payce in 1:49 to clinch fifth place at 120 pounds. Meanwhile Jake Yslas of Florence got a 13-3 major decision over Calvin Talladay of Dolores Huerta.
Daniel Borunda of Monte Vista was the Valley’s first placer as he got a 12-7 decision over Ryan Carpenter of Manitou Springs in the 126 pound match.
At 138 pounds, Pagosa Springs’ Dalton Gregory pinned Monte Vista’s Jeffrey Cooper in 1:33. Noah Eurioste of Dolores Huerta pinned Lucas Swanda of Manitou Springs in 3:52 in the 145 pound match.
Florence’s Lane Masar nabbed a 10-4 decision over Dolores Huerta’s Ronald Atencio at 160 pounds.
Centauri’s James Richardson only needed 47 seconds to pin Manitou Springs’ Billy Ryan at 152 pounds. At 170 pounds, Aaron Brooks of Manitou Springs pinned Colorado Springs Christians’ Matt Snow in 2:32 while Bayfield’s Michael Goodman pinned Florence’s Sam Morgan in 0:34 in the 182-pound match.
At 190 pounds, Monte Vista’s Matt Barnes’ last minute attempt to get a take down went against him and he was pinned by Cannon Wille of St. Mary’s.
At 220 pounds, Pagosa Springs’ Alonzo Hernandez got a 9-5 decision over Centauri’s RJ Ruybal but his teammate, Greg Martinez defeated Florence’s Kevin Tuttle with a 9-2 decision. Those points helped the Falcons jump into the lead with 186 points. While Alamosa sat steady with 182 1/2 points.
In the third place matches, the Falcons continued their upward climb as Patrick Esparsen got a 15-3 major decision over Justin Maldonado of Trinidad.
On the other mat, Dolores Huerta’s Xavier Solis pinned Alamosa’s David in 56 seconds in the 113 pound match. In the 120 pound match, overtime was needed as regulation ended in a 6-6 tie, however, after several acrobatic attempts at a take down, Brian Follett of Colorado Springs Christian was able to get the 8-6 sudden victory decision over Centauri’s Angelo Martinez.
At 126 pounds, Ethan Coombs of Centauri pinned Chris Archuleta of Pagosa Springs in 2:44. In the 132 pound match, James Bernal of Dolores Huerta was awarded an injury default victory over Bayfields Allec Rodriguez.
Drake Rhodes of Bayfield got a 7-4 decision over Florence’s Dustin James at 138 while Alamosa’s Dillon Vance stamped his ticket to state with a 7-3 decision over Joe Zink of Bayfield at 145 pounds.
Scott Sandoval of Florence defeated Cody Snow of Pagosa Springs with a 10-6 decision at 152 pounds. At 160 pounds, Cameron Krautschun of Colorado Springs Christian got a 5-1 Oscar Archuleta of Manitou Springs.
At 170 pounds, Alamosa’s Chris Aguirre was defeated by Marcus Garcia of Dolores Huerta because of a 10-4 decision. Monte Vista’s Isaac Medina fell victim to Pagosa Springs’ David McRee because of a 9-0 major decision.
The 195 pound match was an intense one between Nick Jones of Alamosa and Centauri’s Tylen Pavlovsky. As the final quarter panned out, Jones was victorious as he got a 5-2 decision over Pavlovsky.
Conner Ward of Florence pinned Bayfield’s Matt Cerdas in 1:25 while Bayfield’s Matt Eckstein pinned St. Mary’s Miles Keane in 2:17 in the 220 pound and 285 pound matches, respectively.
“It’s a shame that both of us (Alamosa and Centauri) are in this same region knocking each other off and there are some soft regions people are going to qualify a lot of people,” said Randy Keys. He went on to explain that it is not the same as the state meet, “there is not the depth but there are some top ranked kids out of those other regions.”