LAFAYETTE — While there were only two wrestlers on the championship mat in the finals of the 140-pound weight class at the Top of the Rockies tournament, Rio Rancho’s Max Ortega and Ponderosa’s Jacob Snider total six between them.
Ortega is a four-time state champion from New Mexico while Snider has won a pair for Ponderosa. The title bout, in which Ortega, also a state champion as an eighth-grader, would earn outstanding wrestler by a vote of the coaches, was 7-5 in his favor.
Ortega and Snider had met once before this season, in Reno, Nev., with Snider pulling out a 7-5 victory. The two, who now consider themselves good friends, will more than likely wrestle again next week at the Garden City (Kan.) Invitational.
Ortega’s victory also helped propel Rio Rancho to the team championship in the 31-team affair with 175.5 points. Roosevelt, ranked No. 1 in Class 4A, finished second with 163.5 points, while Loveland, No. 2 in 5A, was third with 154.
“Jacob’s a good kid and our matches can go either way,” said Ortega, who improved to 26-1 while Snider dropped to 24-1. “My key was staying in position and making sure my feet were in the right spot. His position in Reno was better than mine and he won it. I was looking forward to wrestling him again and to seeing him at Garden City.”
While losing for the first time this season, Snider was not all that dejected.
“It actually was one of my most fun matches and I really didn’t get nervous before it,” Snider said. “It was exciting. Max had a little bit of attitude, but a good one because he is such a fine wrestler and he was looking for a bit of mat revenge. We’re friends and we should me again, next week for our rubber match. It was not a grudge match, just one we wanted to both do well.”
The Top of the Rockies proved to be lucky and unlucky for the tournament’s 31-teams. But fans in an overflow crowd in the Centaurus gym knew they were in for an exciting night of wrestling from the start of the finals.
Six matches featured state champions against each other, three weight classes featured another state champion and one weight class had a pair of state runner-ups going against each other. In all, 16 wrestlers among the final 28 carried No. 1 rankings within their respective states into the championship round.
Another battle of state champions also produced what will be a memorable match. It took Greeley Central’s Brice Wolf four overtime periods to come through with a 6-5 victory over previously unbeaten Wyoming champion Brady Burgess.
Wolf, who improved to 27-0, had the top position in the fourth overtime period. All he had to do was hang on for 30 seconds for the win. And he accomplished the feat as Burgess dropped to 25-1.
“We were both tired and I knew I just had to hold on,” said Wolf, who has pinned or technical fell all his previous opponents. “I knew it was going to be tough and had to give it my all. I prayed to God for a little extra bit of juice there.
“I need to win on my feet, which I didn’t think I did,” Wolf said. “But I won down on the mat. I knew (Burgess) was not going to give me anything. I’ve never gone that far before and obviously the longest match of my season - make that my career.”
Ponderosa’s Daniel Kelly and Campbell County’s Tyler Juby also had an interesting battle between state champions. The score at the end of their 145-pound bout read 9-7 and fans thought Kelly had pulled out his victory with only 5 seconds to go with his takedown. But in reality, it ended 13-10 in his favor. It was the first loss for Juby, who fell to 26-1.
Interestingly enough, the correct score was not announced to the crowd, and even Kelly was not certain.
“I was aware that I was losing when he threw me in the third period and I needed points back,” said Kelly (25-2). “I was just motivated to get it back. (Juby) is ranked in the nation and I wanted to prepare myself against him. This was a good match for me, no doubt."
The semifinals had great matchups, as well. And Snider’s match against Loveland’s state champion Josh Kreimier was one of the best. Kreimier, who had won 70 straight matches heading into his bout with Snider, is normally a 135-pounder and came in ranked No. 2 at 135.
For Top of the Rockies, Kreimier moved up to 140 for an opportunity to face Snider. It was a fine move on his part, but he fell to Snider, 4-2, in a great match. That set up the final for Snider to face Ortega.
Roosevelt’s Dan Frank, a two-time state 3A champion, went up against Rio Rancho state champion Louis Trujillo in their semifinal at 130. However, Trujillo prevailed 7-2. Grandview’s Eric Wilson lost his battle against Uintah, Utah, champion Colby Christensen, 1-0, at 119 pounds. Christensen came through with an escape with 41 seconds left in the match for the win.
One of the biggest surprises came at 125 when Cheyenne Central’s Lee Arias pinned Alamosa’s Dalton Kelley at 5:32. Kelley was leading 14-5 when he was reversed and rolled to his back by Arias.
State champion Justin Gonzales of Northridge needed an escape and takedown late in the third period to win a 3-2 nail-biter against Ponderosa’s Steven Kelly, ranked No. 1 in 5A, in their 152-pound match.
Team results: Rio Rancho 175.5, Roosevelet 163.5, Loveland 154, Campbell County (Wyo.) 153, Grand Junction Central 124, Ponderosa 114.5, Alamosa 112, Rocky Mountain 110.5, Cheyenne Central (Wyo.) 108, Chaparral 94, Northridge 92.5, Broomfield 92, Green River (Wyo.) 88.5, Fort Lupton 81.5, Grandview 78.5, Pueblo South 75, Legacy 73, Montezuma-Cortez 72.5, Lakewood 72, Uintah (Utah) 70, Greeley Central 69, Thompson Valley 65.5, Centaurus 60, Longmont 58, Fort Morgan 45, Conifer 44, Brighton 42.5, Pueblo West 38, Silver Creek 17, Denver East 15.
103 pounds: Matthew Gurule, Grand Junction Central, def. Jake Williams, Rio Rancho, 16-1.
112: Courtland Hacker, Broomfield, pinned Jordan Henrickson, Loveland, 3:24.
119: Tyler Cox, Campbell County, def. Colby Christensen, Uintah, 12-6.
125: Travis Himmelman, Conifer, def, Lee Arias, Cheyenne Central, 13-2.
130: Louis Trujillo, Rio Rancho, def. Dale Shull, Fort Lupton, 8-6.
135: Chris Rubalcaba, Rio Rancho, pinned Tino Laureles, Rocky Mountain, 3:05.
140: Max Ortega, Rio Rancho, def. Jacob Snider, Ponderosa, 7-5.
145: Daniel Kelly, Ponderosa, def. Tyler Juby, Cambell County, 13-10.
152: Justin Gonzales, Northridge, def. Telbe Storbeck, Campbell County, 1-0.
160: Patrick Gomez, Northridge, def. Brandon Montoya, Roosevelt, 7-1.
171: Brice Wolf, Greeley Central, def. Brady Burgess, Campbell County, 6-5 OT, ultimate tie-breaker.
189: Ryker Haddock, Longmont, def. Danny Mitchell, Legacy, 9-4.
215: Connor Medbery, Loveland, pinned Fabian Guerrero, Ft. Lupton, 3:33.
285: Lane Stuht, Loveland, pinned Zach Rosales, Grand Junction Central, 4:26.
Third-place matches: 103: Timothy Urenda, Pueblo South, def. Nick Babcock, Broomfield, 3-2. 112: Jeremy Schmitt, Rocky Mountain, pined Jaqub Gurule, Grand Junction Central, 3:38. 119: Eric Wilson, Grandview, def. C.J. York, Roosevelt, 3-1. 125: Derek Ruiz, Pueblo South, def. Jesus Rodriquez, Grand Junction Central, 10-1. 130: Dan Frank, Roosevelt, pinned Chris Wessel, Legacy, 2:15. 135: Zach Legino, Roosevelt, def. Kyle Holman, Alamosa, 10-8. 140: Josh Kreimier, Loveland, def. Justin Schumancer, Green River, 11-1. 145: Austin Breckenridge, Cheyenne Central, pinned Jordan Garcia, Pueblo West, 4:13. 152: Justin Samora, Montezuma-Cortez, def. Steven Kelly, Ponderosa, 6-4 (ot). 160: Josh Van Tine, Broomfield, def. Hayden Jones, Cheyenne Central, 3-0. 171: Mike Morgan, Lakewood, def. Tommy Thoman, Grandview, 2-1. 189: Nathan Heuer, Roosevelt, def. Casey Norgard, Rocky Mountain, 10-1. 215: Penn Wade, Grandview, def. Hunter Maxwell, Fort Morgan, 5-2. 285: Scot Coyle, Longmont, def. Austin Scheufele, Centaurus, 5-2.
Fifth-place matches103: Kyle Walters, Roosevelt, def. Darin Sisneros, Alamosa, 4-2. 112: Eli Rosales, Lakewood, def. Dylan Steffens, Northridge, by default. 119:Michael Walsh, Alamosa, pinned Jeremy Luna, Rocky Mountain, :40. 125: Casey Lynn, Montezuma-Cortez, won by injury default over Dalton Kelley, Alamosa. 130: Marc Madsen, Campbell County, def. Sean Mahaney, Alamosa, 3-2. 135: Colby Kluesner, Conifer, def. Jordan Guiterrez, Broomfield, injury default. 140: Donovan Archuleta, Alamosa, pinned Justin Frazer, Lakewood, 3:58. 145: Scott Verner, Green River, def. Lance Jeffries, Loveland, default injury. 152: Julian Jackson, Chaparral, def. Matt Sunkees, Uintah, 5-2. 160: Bryce Thurston, Chaparral, pinned Nico Hehr, Longmont, :33. 171: Chad Quick, Legacy, pinned Chris Morales, Rio Rancho, 1:20. 189: Derek Good, Ponderosa, def. Mike Dellatto, Thompson Valley, 6-5. 215: Greg Smith, Rocky Mountain, pinned Shea Nolan, Rio Rancho, :14. 285: Jake Chatham, Grandview, pinned Doug Fisher, Fort Lupton, 2:47.