Regis Jesuit junior John Crowley won the 160-pound championship at the Region 2 meet at Westminster High School and earned the chance to defend the state championship he won last season. He will be joined by two young teammates making their first trip to state in sophomore Josh Redman at 112 pounds and freshman Grant Neal at 189.
Grandview had the other champion from Region 2 in junior 140-pounder Sean Burroughs, who will compete at the Pepsi Center for the second year in a row and leads the Wolves, who have an Aurora-best five wresters headed downtown.
Joining Burroughs is senior 103-pound Josh Federico — a returning state placer — along with first-timers in 112-pounder Eric Ruoff, 119-pounder Tony Mendieta and 189-pounder Pavlo Ivanusa. Federico and Ivanusa lost in regional championship matches, while Ruoff placed third and Mendieta got in by way of a wrestleback.
Cherokee Trail, the lone Aurora team competing in Region 3 at Greeley West, has four qualifiers. The Cougars’ state experience comes from senior 189-pounder Keith Johnson, a returning state placer and third-place regional finisher, while 103-pounder Bruno Nicoletti — a regional runner-up — along with 171-pounder Joe Maletta and 215-pounder Bo Brunning will make their debuts.
Johnson takes on Ivanusa in an all-Aurora first round match, while Maletta drew the other all-city matchup as he has been pitted against Gateway senior Dylan Avery. Avery is a returning state qualifier and a regional finalist who will help first-time teammates Josh Butler (125) and Branden Muniz (130) learn the ropes.
Eaglecrest has a state-bound duo in 160-pounder Tim Rice as well as heavyweight Mike Howshar, while Gabe Conley at 135 pounds will represent Rangeview.
Eight Aurora wrestlers made it through the Region 4 tournament at Mountain Range, including three each from EMAC champion Hinkley and Aurora Central, plus two from Smoky Hill.
Hinkley tripled its state contingent from last season with 130-pounder Joaquin Reyna, 160-pounder Rodolfo Gonzalez and 171-pounder Jessie Crowe going downtown.
Aurora Central also has a trio in Kevin Nguyen (103), William Montrey (112) and Jose Parra (119), while Smoky Hill’s Tyler Knigge (189) and heavyweight Kirk Owens also advanced.
AURORA CLASS 5A STATE WRESTLING PAIRINGS
At Pepsi Center, Feb. 17, 7:15 p.m.
Kevin Nguyen (Aurora Central) (29-4) vs. Adam Thomas (Centaurus) (24-16); Bruno Nicoletti (Cherokee Trail) (25-4) vs. Mitch Finesilver (Cherry Creek) (33-9); Josh Federico (Grandview) (31-10) vs. Philip Faires (Coronado) (28-13)
Josh Redman (Regis Jesuit) (18-17) vs. Adrian Cordova (Coronado) (34-5); William Montrey (Aurora Central) (31-5) vs. Brandon McDowell (Horizon) (30-8); Eric Ruoff (Grandview) (28-12) vs. Dylan Bull (Mountain Vista) (37-5)
Jose Parra (Aurora Central) (26-7) vs. Jacob Mondragon (Ftn. Ft. Carson) (34-5); Tony Mendieta (Grandview) (21-10) vs. Emilio Martinez (Greeley West) (21-1)
Josh Butler (Gateway) (31-6) vs. Roy Garza (Greeley West) (33-6)
Joaquin Reyna (Hinkley) (32-10) vs. Dakota Thayer (Chatfield) (38-5); Branden Muniz (Gateway) (36-9) vs. Cesar Valenzuela (Centaurus) (23-7)
Gabe Conley (Rangeview) (30-9) vs. Tommy George (Coronado) (17-5)
Alex Esparza (Highlands Ranch) (28-12) vs. Sean Burroughs (Grandview) (32-10)
Tim Rice (Eaglecrest) (32-11) vs. Jorge Sanchez (Horizon) (29-7); Rodolfo Gonzalez (Hinkley) (31-11) vs. Mike Carter (Mountain Vista) (27-5); Cody Malcher (Fossil Ridge) (9-9) vs. John Crowley (Regis Jesuit) (30-3)
Daniel Wells (Doherty) (31-13) vs. Jessie Crowe (Hinkley) (29-14); Joe Maletta (Cherokee Trail) (22-17) vs. Dylan Avery (Gateway) (33-12)
Tyler Knigge (Smoky Hill) (32-13) vs. Nathan Burak (Coronado) (40-0); Keith Johnson (Cherokee Trail) (37-4) vs. Pavlo Ivanusa (Grandview) (28-11); Grant Neal (Regis Jesuit) (22-13) vs. Joe Jackson (Brighton) (28-11)
Bo Brunning (Cherokee Trail) (23-15) vs. Tanner Harms (Cherry Creek) (36-1)
Kirk Owens (Smoky Hill) (35-7) vs. Aldo Gomez (Ft. Collins) (30-15); Mike Howshar (Eaglecrest) (16-8) vs. Jeremy Todd (Heritage) (36-1)