Grapplers set for state |

Grapplers set for state

Everything about the state wrestling tournament is big.

“At state you have 10 mats and 20,000 seats at the Pepsi Center,” said Basalt High School head coach Rob Grumley of the Denver arena where the three-day championship meet takes place.

“The size of the floor and all those mats definitely is a jaw-dropper,” the coach added. “But you just go out, have a good time, and leave it all on the mat.”

When the 12 area wrestlers leave the mat, they all hope to have a state medal. But the road to the medal podium at Saturday’s finals is tough.

When the whistle sounds at 11 a.m. today for the first-round preliminaries of the double-elimination tournament, close to 900 prep wrestlers will be on hand.

Seven area wrestlers, four representing Basalt and three from Grand Valley, will participate in the Class 3A and Class 2A state meets, respectively.

Rifle, with five state qualifiers in the 4A meet, starts wrestling at 1 p.m.

The task should be a little easier for the area’s three regional champions. Winning a regional title ensures high seeds for Rifle’s Rodney Long and Casie Dunlap, along with Basalt’s Mike Zerfoss.

Long, a senior, has won 36 of 40 matches this year. He opens the 4A 125-pound tournament against Alamosa High sophomore Jeremy Trujillo (21-6).

Dunlap will put his 32-10 record on the line against Charlie Colentine (19-8) of Windsor in the 152-pound preliminaries.

And Zerfoss, a sophomore at Glenwood Springs High School, matches his 24-8 win-loss record against Wray’s Chris Reed (19-16) in the 3A heavyweight division.

Another favorite is Rifle senior Jesse Long. Long, the state’s top-ranked 4A wrestler at 160 pounds, has a 24-4 win-loss record. His first opponent on Thursday is Nick Kellebanc (24-4) from Pine Creek High School.

At last week’s Region 1 tournament at Broomfield High School, Long defaulted with an injury in a third-place match. But he should be at full strength this weekend.

Two other area qualifiers also are 100 percent after nursing injuries for most of the year.

“My shoulder is as good as its going to get,” said Basalt 160-pounder Kaleb Nye, who is entering his first state meet.

“I’m just excited about going to wrestle at state,” he said. “I’ve watched (the tournament) for the last 10 years and I’ve always looked forward to it. Now, I’m going to do it.”

Nye’s injuries have limited him to a handful of matches. The senior is 7-7 on the year and draws 30-4 Randy Gettman from Valley in the prelims.

Garrett Jammeron, a Roaring Fork High School senior who also has suffered shoulder problems, said “I’m at 100 percent” entering his 3A, 189-pound opener against Burlington’s undefeated (36-0) Brian Hendricks.

Basalt’s fourth wrestler – Mike Aten, a junior transfer from Glenwood Springs via Ignacio and Nevada, is looking forward to his first state tournament.

“I think state’s going to be awesome,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of competition and it’s going to be a great experience.”

Aten (21-8) draws Lamar’s Tress Gadash (26-9) in the first round.

Aten, Jammeron and Zerfoss wrestle for Basalt because their respective schools do not field wrestling teams.

Rifle’s other two state qualifiers are both juniors. Eddie Kreimier (31-10) wrestles at 103 pounds and squares off against Berthoud freshman Tyler Carron (30-10). Luke Wooten (26-7) will battle Ricky Saucedo (33-4) of Northridge.

Class 2A Grand Valley qualified three wrestlers for state.

Senior Jesse Neely at 112 pounds is back for his second time. At Thursday’s prelims, Neely will put his 26-8 mark on the line against Wiggins’ Michael Forsha (13-13).

Chanse Brackett (11-12), a junior at nearby DeBeque High, wrestles at 171 pounds for Grand Valley and will battles Crowley County’s Thomas Dunagan (31-10).

Parker Atkins (4-4) opens the 2A, 189-pound bracket against another Crowley County wrestler, junior Torben Walters (35-1).

First-round winners advance to quarterfinal matches on Friday. Preliminary match losers fall to the consolation bracket. The 2A and 3A quarterfinals start at 10 a.m., immediately followed by consolation matches. Class 4A and 5A quarterfinals begin at 1 p.m., also followed by consolation matches.

Second-round consolation matches in Class 2A and 3A are scheduled to start at 5:45 p.m. Friday. Class 4A and 5A second-round consolation matches are slated for 7:15 p.m.

Semifinal matches in all classifications begin at 7 p.m., Friday evening.

Saturday’s action begins with 2A and 3A third-round consolation and semifinal consolations at 11 a.m. Class 4A and 5A follow the same schedule. Those matches start at 12:30 p.m.

Third- and fifth-place matches will begin at 2:30 p.m. with championship matches for all classifications taking center stage at 6:30 p.m. after the parade of champions and championship match introductions.

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