1/24/2008 6:57:00 PM   
Photo by Courtney Oakes/The Aurora Sentinel

Grandview senior Cody Gilmore, left, grapples with Ponderosa"s Taylor Stam during the third-place heavyweight match at the Top of the Rockies Invitational on Jan. 19 at Centaurus High School in Lafayette. Gilmore won a 4-1 decision in the match to finish 5-1 at the two-day tournament featuring 33 outstanding teams from four different states.
Wrestling: Gilmore's third sweet at Top of the Rockies
Heavyweight wins third 1 vs. 2 match in last two weeks; Wilson takes 5th

By Courtney Oakes
The Aurora Sentinel

LAFAYETTE | If the Top of the Rockies Invitational is really tougher than the state wrestling tournament as many coaches believe, Grandview's Cody Gilmore has a podium trip ahead.

The senior heavyweight - ranked second in the state in Class 5A - finally got the better of No. 1 Taylor Stam of Ponderosa in their third showdown in two weeks, beating the Mustangs standout 4-1 in the third-place match to cap the grueling two-day tournament at Centaurus High School that featured legions of state champions and placers among 33 teams from Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

Stam pinned Gilmore on Jan. 12 in the championship match at the Arvada West Invitational and also stuck him in the quarterfinals of the Top of the Rockies, but Gilmore changed tactics and kept out of trouble in the third meeting to earn the win by decision.

"It was crazy, he beat me the last two times, but I had confidence and I learned from my mistakes and just beat him," said Gilmore, who went 5-1 to move to 24-4 on the season. "I've gotten a lot of experience over the last two weeks. I've learned that even if you lose, you just keep hacking away because there will be another day. It was pure determination."

The Wolves, ranked 9th in 5A by On The Mat, placed 20th as a team thanks to nine total wins from Gilmore and junior Eric Wilson, who placed fifth in a loaded 112-pound weight class that included three state champions and two second-place state finishers. Jacob Bomareto (189) and Bryce Lucherini (152) won three matches and Patrick Brown and Penn Wade two each.

"We feel like if you can place at this tournament, you can place at the state tournament," Grandview coach Greg Maestas said.

"Once you get to the quarterfinals here, everybody is a state placer. We wrestled every match hard."

Maestas was pleased with Gilmore's victory, but knows that another tilt against Stam could be just around the corner - possibly in the state final at Pepsi Center or earlier depending on seeding.

And with familiarity comes the need for different strategy.

"I'm sure they'll butt heads again, so we're going to have to change and they're going to have to change," Maestas said. "We're happy to win, but we can do a lot of things better."

Gilmore's only loss came to Stam and he downed Adams City's LeRoy Vigil (No. 5 in 5A) and Loveland's Lane Stuht (5A No. 7).

While the heavyweight division was loaded, Wilson's 112-pound bracket was downright brutal.

Besides Wilson, who placed third at the 5A state tournament last season, there were three state champions (Alamosa's Jesse Meis, undefeated Phil Grout of Northglenn and Rocky Mountain's Jeremy Schmitt) in the field, along with two runners-up in Adams City's Aaron Ortiz and Colby Christiansen of Uintah, Utah.

Wilson lost a major decision to the rugged Meis and then got edged 7-4 by Broomfield's Gabe Gomez - ranked No. 1 in 4A with Meis No. 2 - in the consolation semifinals. He dominated Fort Lupton's Derek Salinas 8-0 in the fifth-place match and came away pleased with his performance.

"There were all kinds of tough kids here," said Wilson, who is ranked third in 5A behind Grout and Schmitt with a 19-5 record. "It's tougher than state and I wrestled the tough kids close, so I've got some confidence against them. Hopefully I can keep it going and get on top of the podium."