4A wrestling: Seeded second, but aiming for first
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Myles Wilson and Cristian Gonzalez have taken much different paths to this year’s Class 4A State Championships. Even so, the members of the Glenwood Springs High School wrestling team each have the same goal in mind.
“It’s been a while since our school has had a state champion,” Gonzalez, a senior, said on Wednesday. We’re looking to change that.”
For sure, the Wilson, a sophomore 152-pounder, and Gonzalez, who wrestles at 195 pounds, represent the best chance the school has had to bring home its first state wrestling title since 1993. They’re also part of a Glenwood contingent of eight state qualifiers that, according to Glenwood head coach Guy Brickell and assistant Miles Cook, is the largest the Demon have sent to the state wrestling tournament in at least four decades.
But with both of them earning the No. 2 seeds in their respective weight classes, both of them feel that winning a state title at the Pepsi Center in Denver is a realistic goal. Adding even more motivation is the banner hanging in the Demons’ auxiliary gym, which has a yellowish tint on the lettering that shows the second of Dan Loya’s two consecutive state heavyweight titles in 1993.
“Yeah, we need to update those,” Wilson said, smiling.
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The tournament begins at 7 p.m. today at the Pepsi Center, with weigh-ins scheduled for 1 p.m. today. The state tournament, which holds matches for each of Colorado’s four classifications in wrestling, will continue through Saturday.
Wilson, a fifth-place finisher last year at 138 pounds, also has a world of club wrestling experience under his belt. He comes into the tournament with a 42-1 record and is seeded only behind Thompson Valley senior Ben Hewson, who is 39-4. Wilson will enter the tournament as the only wrestler in the field with more than 40 victories this season.
“Last year I lost to a kid in the [semifinals] who had been ranked No. 1 all year,” Wilson said. That makes things a little more nerve-racking. This year, there’s only one guy who is seeded above me, and I think that I can beat him.”
Gonzalez hadn’t even participated in a regional tournament since his freshman year before this past Saturday when he won the regional title in Golden. That’s because he had an ACL tear during football season of his sophomore year that sidelined home for wrestling season, and a broken hand that ended his junior wrestling season kept him from regionals then.
This year, all of his matches have ended early. He enters the tournament 44-0, and each win that hasn’t been by forfeit has been by pin. The longest he’s gone in a match has been Ben Self of Air Academy, the then-No. 1 wrestler in the weight class who Gonzalez pinned in 4 minutes flat.
So far, no one has intimidated Gonzalez. The atmosphere at the Pepsi Center won’t do that either.
“I love it,” said Gonzalez, who is seeded No. 2 in his weight class behind top-seeded Demetrius Miller (12-0 of Pueblo Centennial. “It’s all part of it, and being in front of that means you’ve made it to be big stage. I can’t wait.”
Cook said he’d be thrilled if each of Glenwood’s eight wrestlers came away with at least one victory during the tournament, but he admitted that he sees four wrestlers who have a good chance of placing: Gonzalez, Wilson, 106-pound freshman Felix Cano and 120-pound sophomore Riley Prough. Also in the tournament, though seeded near the bottom of their respective brackets, are No. 13 Irvin Pallares (29-12 at 132), No. 7 Jose Diaz (28-16 at 170), No. 15 Irvin Vazquez (23-19 at 220), and No. 14 Gerry Viveros (20-9 at 285).
Prough (36-7), entered the regional tournament as the No. 2 seed in his weight class, but he was given a No. 15 seed after his fourth-place finish in the regional tournament. Cano comes into the state tournament seeded No. 7 in his weight class with a 31-13 record.
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The teams aren’t vying to one up the other in the rankings or looking to get a leg up in the league standings this fall, but that will hardly make the stakes any less meaningful for Basalt and Glenwood Springs high schools when they meet on the football field Friday night.