Local wrestlers advance to state tournament

Ponderosa third, Mountain Vista fourth at regional meet


The announcer frequently called the names of Ponderosa and Mountain Vista wrestlers as the Mustangs and Golden Eagles earned points and claimed honors at the Feb. 10 and 11 Class 5A Region 2 Wrestling Tournament at Legacy High School.

Wrestlers earned team points for wins and the top four wrestlers in each weight division earned the right to compete in the state tournament Feb 16-18 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Brighton won the team title with 271 points and Legacy was second with 207.5 points, with Ponderosa finishing third with 161 points and Mountain Vista fourth with 123 points.

Ponderosa coach Corey McNellis said the season got off to an interesting start.

“We had a state placer then we got hit by the injury bug that includes a serious injury that sidelined a state finalist for the season,” he said. “But gradually we started getting healthy, started getting every back and that is when we started hitting on all cylinders. Today, we came in thinking we could have seven or eight qualifiers, but we lost some matches we probably should have won. But we'll be taking some quality wrestlers downtown to the state meet next week.”

Three Mustangs won regional championships: Parker Benekas at 145 pounds, Jayden Woodruff at 182 pounds and defending state champion Cohl Schultz at 220 pounds. A trio of Ponderosa wrestlers — Thomas Dixon at 120 pounds, Daniel Turco at 152 pounds and Korry Tunnicliff at 160 pounds — all earned fourth place in their weight divisions and also advanced to the state tournament.

Schultz, a sophomore, said his dad wrestled in high school and his older brother wrestled, so he wrestled too.

“My brother and I have been wrestling since we were about 3 years old,” he said. “Wrestling is my only sport and I think I am a lot better wrestler now than I was at this time last year. I move a lot better than I did last year and I have opened up my offense.”

He said he said he knows his strengths and knows what he wants to do as he goes into each match.

Mountain Vista had five wrestlers qualify for state, including senior Trent Schultz, Cohl Schultz's older brother.

“I took up wrestling because it is the only sport mentioned in the Bible,” he said. “My younger brother and I grew up wrestling together. We wrestled each other for about 14 years but now he is wrestling for Ponderosa.”

He said he won the state title last year and now he is focused on defending that title.

“Last year, I doubted myself even though I was ranked No. 1,” he said. “I won the title and now I am focused on defending that title this year because I feel I have something to prove.”

Schultz will be joined at state by four teammates. Preston Weaver won the 126-pound title, Nolan Stritchko was second at 145 and two Golden Eagles finished fourth, Roger Meyer at 132 pounds and Nico Gonzalez at 285 pounds.


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