2/18/2017 1:12:00 AM   

Four Aurora wrestlers — three from Cherokee Trail — headed to 5A state title matches

By Courtney Oakes, Sports Editor
The Aurora Sentinel


Grandview senior Gabriel Baumgartner, right, locks up with Lakewood’s Hayden Still during the second period of a 285-pound semifinal match at the 2017 Class 5A state wrestling tournament on Feb. 17, 2017, at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Baumgarter won a 7-1 decision to make the 5A state championship match. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)


DENVER | Two of the four Aurora wrestlers who made it through to championship matches at the Class 5A state tournament — Cherokee Trail’s Zeke Silva and Max Gonzales — were expected to be there.

The other two, Cherokee Trail’s Josh Richardson and Grandview’s Gabriel Baumgartner, most certainly were not.

Ranked No. 2 in 5A at 195 and 220 pounds, respectively, all year, Silva and Gonzales cruised through the first two days of the tournament at the Pepsi Center to reach Saturday’s championship matches against the Schultz brothers, Trent and Cohl, fulfilling a season-long arc.

The spotlight on the state championship stage — which begins with the Parade of Champions at 6:30 p.m., followed by title matches in Classes 2A-5A — will have some lesser known Aurora players as well.

Richardson didn’t qualify for the state tournament until his senior year and he’s slowly built the confidence that helped him earn a chance to win a state title in his only state appearance, while Baumgartner’s evolution from passive to aggressive on offense has put a state championship within his reach in only his second career trip to the Pepsi Center.

Aurora wrestlers finished 4-for-5 in Friday’s semifinal round and the Wolves nearly had a second finalist, but senior Tyler Ross’ challenge of Coronado star Jimmy Weaver fell two points short at 182 pounds.

Gonzales and Silva both earned their championship berths — the second straight for Gonzales and first for Silva — with semifinal pins, as Gonzales handled Pomona’s Angelo Arrellano in the second period and Silva took down Fairview’s Duncan Heath, though an attempted throw nearly backfired on him in the third period.

Undefeated and defending state champion Trent Schultz of Mountain Vista (39-0) awaits Silva (28-2) in the 195-pound final, while Gonzales (41-1) has a rematch with Ponderosa’s Cohl Schultz (44-1), who pinned him in the first period of last year’s 220-pound title match.

Richardson’s performance at the state tournament has been special and he’s contributed enough points to help Jeff Buck’s Cougars to a sixth-place spot in the 5A team standings going into the final day.

A pin of Regis Jesuit’s Brandon Minear — who beat him twice during the regular season — put Richardson into the semifinals against another wrestler he’d lost to previously, Legacy’s Aidan Funk.

Richardson trailed in the third period until a stalling call on Funk evened the match and it went all the way to the ultimate tiebreaker. Funk needed to keep Richardson from escaping for 30 seconds in the third overtime to secure the win and he nearly did it, but was called for locking hands — which carries a penalty point with it — giving Richardson a 5-4 victory.

Cherokee Trail continues to look for the first state wrestling champion in school history and has more than one finalist for the first time.

Grandview has four all-time state champions, but the program had been absent from the finals for quite some time until Baumgartner changed that.

Baumgartner — who has been much more offensive minded for coach Ryan Budd’s Wolves this season — pinned Castle View’s David Nuriyav in the quarterfinals, avenging a loss to Nuriyav at the Arvada West Invitational. He nearly pinned Lakewood’s Hayden Still in the semifinals, but turned in a steady 7-1 victory.

In the finals, Baumgartner (38-8) goes against Brighton’s Tanner Aitken (40-2), who pinned him during the semifinals of the Top of the Rockies tournament.

Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or sports@aurorasentinel.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel


Team scores (through semifinals): 1. Pomona 148.5 points; 2. Grand Junction 103.5; 3. Brighton 81.5; 4. Poudre 78; 5. Coronado 74.5; 6. CHEROKEE TRAIL 72; 7. Ponderosa 66.5; 8. Castle View 60; 9. GRANDVIEW 51.5; 10. Rocky Mountain 41.5; 11. Arvada West 39.5; 12. Monarch 39; 13. Broomfield 37; T14. Adams City 34; T14. Lakewood 34; 16. Mountain Vista 26.5; 17. Legacy 25; 18. Doherty 20; 19. Prairie View 19; 20. Fossil Ridge 16; T21. Douglas County 12; T21. Fruita Monument 12; 23. ThunderRidge 11; T24. Mountain Range 9; T24. Rampart 9; 26. OVERLAND 8.5; 27. Palmer 8; T28. SMOKY HILL 7; T28. Cherry Creek 7; T28. Fairview 7; T28. Fort Collins 7; T28. Fountain-Fort Carson 7; T28. Legend 7; T34. Arapahoe 6; T34. Northglenn 6; T36. RANGEVIEW 5; T36. Greeley West 5; T38. REGIS JESUIT 4; T38. Bear Creek 4; T38. Chaparral 4; T41. HINKLEY 3; T41. Chatfield 3; T41. Denver East 3; 44. GATEWAY 2; T45. Centaurus 1; T45. Denver South 1; AURORA CENTRAL & EAGLECREST among eight teams with no score


160 pounds (5A): JOSH RICHARDSON (CHEROKEE TRAIL) dec. Aidan Funk (Legacy), 5-4 (3OT)

182 pounds (5A): Jimmy Weaver (Coronado) dec. TYLER ROSS (GRANDVIEW), 4-2

195 pounds (5A): ZEKE SILVA (CHEROKEE TRAIL) pinned Duncan Heath (Fairview), 4:46

220 pounds (5A): MAX GONZALES (CHEROKEE TRAIL) pinned Angelo Arellano (Pomona), 2:50

285 pounds (5A): GABRIEL BAUMGARTNER (GRANDVIEW) dec. Hayden Still (Lakewood), 7-1