All-Colorado wrestling

Loveland's Graff heads list of state's baddest of the bad

By Scott Stocker, Rocky Mountain News

Wednesday, March 19, 2008 

Ken Papaleo / The Rocky

2008 All-Colorado team: first row, from left - Eric Wilson, Grandview; Jesse Meis, Alamosa; Josh Kreimier, Loveland. Second row - Ethan Martinez, St. Mary's; Mitchell Polkowske, Centauri; Jake Snider, Ponderosa; Nick Jones, Pomona; wrestler of the year Tyler Graff, Loveland. Third row - Luke Vandenburg, Loveland; Cody Yohn, Alamosa; coach of the year Tim Ottmann, Ponderosa; Johnny Ortega, Thompson Valley; Matt Chavez, Fort Morgan. Back row - Tim Saucedo, Northridge; Stryker Lane, Norwood.

Loveland's Tyler Graff has set a standard for Colorado high school wrestlers that will be difficult to achieve in the future.

Graff became the state's 15th four-time champion, finishing with a 40-0 record this season and 162-1 for his career. He capped it off by pinning Rocky Mountain's Tino Laureles in 1 minute, 33 seconds in their 130-pound final last month before a record crowd at the Pepsi Center.

Graff, who lost only to Rocky Mountain's Kyle O'Brien 3-2 as a freshman, heads the Rocky's All-Colorado team as wrestler of the year. The All-Colorado coach is Tim Ottmann, who guided Ponderosa to its sixth consecutive Class 5A title this season and eighth overall.

"I knew winning four championships could happen, but, of course, I knew I had to compete at a high level," said Graff, who has been ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Wrestling magazine in his respective weight classes the past two seasons. "There was not a super goal to set a record for the most wins. It was just a case of doing what I needed to do in order to be a state champion."

Arvada West's Kyle Sand (125- 0, 2001-04) is the state's only four-time winner to finish unbeaten.

Graff will definitely be challenged during the next few months before he heads to the University of Wisconsin. His next tournament will be the U.S. Open in late April in Las Vegas. From there, it's off to the World trials in May and the U.S. Olympic trials in June.

"I'm pretty excited about the possible competitions ahead and going to Wisconsin," Graff said. "I just feel I have to give my best efforts in my workouts and training in order to accomplish my goals."

Ottmann retires after 17 years coaching Ponderosa but will retain his position as athletic director. His memories are plentiful, including coaching his son, Jake, in the final high school match for both. Jake lost in the final at 215 pounds.

"Jake not winning was tough on me, as a dad," Ottmann said. "But I'm really amazed at what we've done with our program, taking Ponderosa from nowhere in wrestling to one of the best in Colorado history, if not, perhaps, the best team.

"My big thing is to make sure this is a shared honor with all those who have contributed to our success. I had to tell myself to take it all in and enjoy it, and I felt I was able to do that."

The team this year has a Loveland flavor. Joining Graff on the elite squad are teammates Josh Kreimier and Luke Vandenburg and their crosstown rival, Johnny Ortega of Thompson Valley.

Three others are repeat All-Colorado selections. Alamosa's Jesse Meis, ranked No. 4 in the nation, again is the team's 103- pounder. Teammate Cody Yohn, ranked No. 5 in the country, is up a weight this season, at 171. Pomona's Nick Jones is at 135 this season after being on the squad last year at 119. He carries a No. 3 national ranking.

The team also boasts three two-time state champions in Ethan Martinez of St. Mary's, Tim Saucedo of Class 4A team champion Northridge and Ponderosa sophomore Jake Snider, who is halfway to becoming a four-time champion after winning as a freshman at 125.

Norwood's Stryker Lane, ranked No. 3 overall among the nation's juniors by USA Wrestling, will be among the favorites to be a three-time champion. He won his first title last season at 189 while at Nucla. Lane lost half this season because of the state's transfer rules but finished at 20-0, with 19 pins, and allowed only three points to be scored against him.

Grandview's Eric Wilson earned his spot by beating two defending champions in overtime to win the 5A 112-pound title.

Of note is the accomplishment of Centauri's Mitchell Polkowske, the team's 145-pounder. Polkowske won 164 matches in his career, tops in state history. He also holds the state single-season record of 47-0 set last year as a junior. He went 42-0 this season.

Fort Morgan's Matt Chavez rounds out the All-Colorado squad after winning the 152-pound title and helping lead the Mustangs to a 4A runner-up team finish.

The All-Colorado team, without regard to year in school or classification, is selected by Rocky staff, with input from Tim Yount of On The Mat and the state's coaches.

All-Colorado wrestling

Weight Name School Year Record

103 Jesse Meis Alamosa Sr. 42-2

112 Eric Wilson Grandview Jr. 38-5

119 Josh Kreimier Loveland Jr. 42-0

125 Ethan Martinez St. Mary's Sr. 34-0

130 Tyler Graff Loveland Sr. 40-0

135 Nick Jones Pomona Sr. 38-2

140 Jake Snider Ponderosa So. 39-4

145 Mitchell Polkowske Centauri Sr. 42-0

152 Matt Chavez Fort Morgan Sr. 26-3

160 Johnny Ortega Thompson Valley Sr. 39-1

171 Cody Yohn Alamosa Sr. 42-1

189 Luke Vandenburg Loveland Sr. 43-1

215 Stryker Lane Norwood Jr. 20-0

285 Tim Saucedo Northridge Sr. 40-1

* Wrestler of the year: Tyler Graff, Loveland

* Coach of the year: Tim Ottmann, Ponderosa

* Honorable mention: Matt Addington, Florence, So.; Devon Brown, Paonia, Sr.; Tony Chavarria, Pueblo West, Sr.; Jake Eitzen, Estes Park, Jr.; Dan Frank, Roosevelt, Jr.; David Garcia, Rocky Ford, Sr.; Cody Gilmore, Grandview, Sr.; Gabe Gomez, Broomfield, Jr.; Justin Gonzales, Northridge, Jr.; Hugh Hardman, Norwood, Jr.; Colten Huskey, Dove Creek, Sr.; Austin Kinnison, Highland, Sr.; Jordan Larsen, Bayfield, Jr.; Pablo Mascarenas, Mountain Vista, Sr.; Cody Miles, Grand Valley, Sr.; Dale Shull, Fort Lupton, Jr.; Chad Stroh, Holyoke, So.; Robert Tucker, Grand Junction, Sr.; Dominic Valenzuela, Centaurus, Sr.