Gonzalez, others go out on podium
DENVER — Cristian Gonzalez made sure to turn up the intensity of the final match of his high school career on Saturday afternoon. He just wished afterwards that his final match could have been Saturday night instead.
“That’s the reason why I was able to get those pins in the first round,” the 195-pound Glenwood Springs High School senior said after winning the third-place match at the Class 4A State Championships at the Pepsi Center. “Basically, that was just to prove that I shouldn’t have been wrestling for this place. I should have been wrestling for a championship.”
Gonzalez dominated both of his consolation-round matches just like he’d done throughout the season. He pinned Demetrius Miller of Pueblo Centennial (14-4) — the tournament’s top seed in the weight class — in just 57 seconds. Then he took even less time to beat Air Academy’s Ben Self, pinning him in just 53 seconds.
Miller, by the way, was seeded first only because he was a returning state placer from 2014, according to “On The Mat” wrestling rankings guru Tim Yount. Otherwise, Gonzalez, who was making his first trip to the state tournament, would have gone in as the top seed.
Gonzalez was one of four Garfield County wrestlers still remaining on the state tournament’s final day, with his teammate, Myles Wilson, awaiting the 4A 152-pound title match. In the 3A tournament, Rifle High senior heavyweight Jose Prado lost a 2-1 decision to Delta’s Marcus Garcia. Meanwhile, Rifle’s Alex Rivas, seeded No. 15 in the 170-pound weight class, finished sixth after he lost 10-6 to University junior Justin Anderson.
His sheer power made a difference in both of those matches, with neither of his opponents on Saturday able to match up physically. That power wasn’t evident on Friday night, when he fell 2-0 to Thompson Valley’s David Euesa. Gonzalez almost came back, however, getting Euesa on his right side and nearly turned his right shoulder blade to the mat before the match referee called the match final.
“If I would have had two more seconds, just two, I’d be there right now,” Gonzalez said. “but I was able to come back and get third, and I was able to get it pretty easily. For that, I’m thankful.”
Prado, who was hoping for another matchup with Garcia in the state final after the tournament’s brackets had been released this past Sunday, got his chance to wrestle him one last time in the third-place match following his 3-2 loss to top-seeded Joe Carwin of Brush. On Saturday, he took a 1-0 lead on a second-period escape before Garcia tied it with an escape of his own to start the third.
Prado, however, was called for a hand-lock penalty on Garcia’s escape, giving the Delta senior his decisive point. Prado wasn’t able to find an opening to come back.
“I’m not crying right now just because I lost,” Prado said after the match. “I’m crying now because of the realization that it’s over now.”
Rivas was the lowest seed in the entire tournament in each of its four classifications to make it to the semifinals. He was pinned, however, in the consolation semifinals by Dolores Huerta’s Julian Gallegos, the kid who Rivas beat to make it into the 3A quarterfinals.
Then in the fourth-place match, after Rivas had gone ahead 6-5 on an escape with 1 minute, 20 seconds remaining in the match, it took a late takedown and three-point nearfall from Anderson to give the University wrestler the go-ahead points.
“I’ve wrestled good kids and wrestled state champions. I’ve never beaten them, but I’ve always given them a good fight,” Rivas said following the fourth-place match. “That’s all I wanted to do when I got here was to put up a good fight. I wasn’t expecting to actually win. So when I did, it made me really happy.”
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