Graff cruises to Region 3 title

John Rosa, Special to the News

Originally published 11:19 a.m., February 17, 2008
Updated 11:19 a.m., February 17, 2008

NORTHGLENN – Tyler Graff can still remember what it felt like to qualify for the state wrestling tournament for the first time.

It was four years ago, and Graff was a freshman for the Loveland Indians. He was understandably nervous, never having experienced the sheer magnitude of the state tournament.

“I was excited, but I was ready to take State on,” Graff said about his experience as a freshman. “I wasn’t scared, maybe a little nervous, but I got over those feelings quick. I was focused and I had the right mind set.”

That mind set resulted in a state championship. And a couple more in the two years safter that. So when Graff heads to the Pepsi Center next week, he’ll be attempting to become only the 15th four-time state champion in Colorado history.

Graff cruised to the Class 5A Region 3 130-pound championship on Saturday evening, pinning all three of is opponents during the 16-team tournament. He was one of five Loveland wrestlers to win a regional title, helping the Indians edge host Northglenn for the team championship 232-204.

Loveland, which is ranked No. 2 by On the Mat, qualified nine wrestlers overall. Fifth-ranked Northglenn qualified a school record eight wrestlers for state, crowning three champions along the way.

Graff, who has only lost once during his high school career, knows there will be a lot of attention focused on him next week, but he’s ready for it.

“I’ll be ready,” said Graff, who pinned his first opponent in eight seconds. “I think about (becoming a four-time champion), but there’s no pressure. It’s all fun and I enjoy the challenge.”

Graff needed less than a minute to pick up his fourth regional title, pinning David George of Rampart in 40 seconds of the championship match. Graff said he’s not looking to score any style points when he takes the mat – he just wants to dominate every one put in front of him.

“I just try to take care of business and wrestle to the best of my ability,” said Graff, who has a full-ride scholarship to Wisconsin. “I want to dominate. That’s my goal for every match, no matter who I wrestle.”

The two other state champions in the field were also dominant, both scoring first-period pins in the championship round. Northglenn’s Philip Grout pinned Palmer’s Devon Cox in 55 seconds of the 112-pound title match, while Pomona’s Nick Jones only needed 40 seconds to get a slap on the mat during his 135-pound title tilt with Kurtis Ramsay of Loveland.

Also winning regional titles for Loveland were Josh Kreimier (119), Lance Jeffries (140), Luke Vandenburg (189) and Connor Medbery (215).

Ryan Bratton (145) and Derek Stearns (152) picked up Northglenn’s other regional titles, both getting wins in dramatic fashion. Bratton scored an escape with 30 seconds left in his match with Mikie Burgess of Green Mountain to force overtime, and then got a takedown with three seconds left in the extra period to pull out the victory.

Stearns, who is making his first trip to state, upset top-seeded Chad Stitch of Lewis-Palmer in the semifinals before pinning Central of Grand Junction’s Chris Jacob in the title match, his third of the tournament.

“I came in to win it,” said Stearns, who was the fourth-seeded wrestler at his weight class. “I wanted to take first place, so I just went out and did what I had to do.”

Class 5A Region 3

Team scores

Loveland, 232; 2. Northglenn, 204; 3. Central Grand Junction, 154; 4. Pomona, 146; 5. Boulder, 138.5; 6. Rampart, 115; 7. Sand Creek, 101.5; 8. Palmer, 100; 9. Wasson, 91; 10. Lewis-Palmer, 73.5; 11. Aurora Central, 69; 12. Green Mountain, 56; 13. Denver West, 29; 14. Montbello, 24; 15. Chatfield, 20.5; 16. Monarch, 13.5.

Championship matches

103 – Mathew Gurule, CGJ, pinned William Montrey, AC, 4:54; 112 – Philip Grout, NG, pinned Devon Cox, PAL, 0:55; 119 – Josh Kreimier, LV, dec. Logan Burch, RHS, 8-1; 125 – Justin Sturgil, WHS, dec. Shawn Johnson, LV, 9-6; 130 – Tyler Graff, LV, pinned David George, RHS, 0:40; 135 – Nick Jones, POM, pinned Kurtis Ramsay, LV, 0:40; 140 -- Lance Jeffries, LV, dec. Casey DeMarrias, NG, 8-3; 145 – Ryan Bratton, NG, dec. Mikie Burgess, GM, 3-2 OT; 152 – Derek Stearns, NG, pinned Chris Jacobs, CGJ, 3:00; 160 – Max Wessell, BHS, pinned Cory Takaki, SC, 3:13; 171 – Adam Katz, BHS, maj. dec. Jake Terada, NG, 16-2; 189 – Luke Vandenburg, LV, pinned Joe Giron, PAL, 5:36; 215 – Connor Medbery, LV, pinned Donny Haupt, POM, 5:00; 285 – Ray Hatchett, SC, dec. Kyle Taaffe, POM, 10-5.

Third-place matches

103 – Josh Hildreth, SC, dec. Vance Feliciano, NG, 13-3; 112 – Nic Balagat, WHS, dec. Dominic Madril, POM, 7-6; 119 – Sean Cholas, CGJ, pinned Derek Garcia, PAL, 2:20; 125 – Jesus Rodriguez, CGJ, dec. Cort Siegele, GM, 9-4; 130 – Sean Stoneham, LP, dec. Daniel Rodriguez, CGJ, 6-4; 135 – Armijo Daniel, AC, dec. Jordan Kally, WHS, 4-1; 140 – Dan Barringer, LP, dec. Derek Lange, BHS, 5-2; 145 – Alex Escalante, CGJ, dec. Jerry O’Leary, BHS, 7-4; 152 – Chad Stich, LP, major dec. Zach Baldini, GM, 15-2; 160 – Sean Pellow, PAL, dec. Brandon Gossett, MHS, 6-2; 171 – Judah Eder, RHS, pinned Julian Cota, LV, 2:21; 189 – Robert Ranney, dec. Brandon Andrews, NG, 10-7; 215 – Tomas Szarka, NG, pinned Danny Stout, WHS, 0:53; 285 – Lane Stuht, LV, pinned Tony Bruhl, PAL, 0:35.


112 – Madril, POM, dec. Phillip Nguyen, AC, 7-3; 135 – Kelly, WHS, pinned Jordan Mersman, CGJ, 1:27; 189 – Andrews, NG, dec. Josh Brown, RHS, 6-5; 215 – Danny Stout, WHS, dec. Nick Ozanich, BHS, 11-7.