State Wrestling: Pomona in drivers seat in Class 5A

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DENVER – Pomona advanced eight of the 10 wrestlers the Panthers brought to the Pepsi Center, and held a slight lead over Greeley West in the team race after the first round of the state tournament.

The Panthers scored 23 points in the first round, three more than Greeley West. Ponderosa, which is expected to push Pomona for the team title, was tied for third, four points back.

In the 4A race, Discovery Canyon was in second place, nine points behind Windsor, which scored an impressive 34 points in the first round.

There weren’t a lot of earth-shattering upsets during the opening round of the tournament, but there was some interesting stories.

Here’s a few from local entrants:

RALSTON VALLEY’S ARELLANO UPSETS TORRES OF POMONA

Ralston Valley's Isaac Arellano may be the most overlooked wrestler at 113 pounds. But that is due to change after the first round of the Class 5A state wrestling tournament.

Arellano upset rival Travis Torres of Pomona with a 12-4 major decision in the opening round on Thursday.

"It's a complete underdog win," Arellano said. "He's a smart wrestler and is aggressive, but to be honest I just think I wanted it more. It's my last year and it's state."

It's easy to see why Arellano wanted it more, he's a senior in his first state tournament and he spent most of the year not even being ranked. Torres on the other hand placed fourth last year at 106 pounds and spent most of the season as the top-ranked wrestler in his weight class. This also wasn't the first rodeo between these two grapplers.

"I definitely think it helped that I wrestled him before," Arellano said.

Arellano and the Mustangs aren't a household name going into the tournament, but they are a wild-card. Four of the five wrestlers that qualified for Ralston Valley won in the opening round Thursday.

Steve Ullman (170) won a 13-4 major decision, while Rocky Michaelson (195) won 3-1 and Jakob Buys (220) got a pin.

"Wrestling here is just awesome," said Arellano, who will face top-seeded ThunderRidge Kyndell Rutz in the next round. "I'm super stoked."

ROCK CANYON’S LITTLE BIG MAN

Brendon Frazier was the lone Rock Canyon wrestler to qualify for the CHSAA wrestling championships. Frazier, a 180-pound senior, figured his best chance to qualify for the Class 5A state tournament was in a heavier weight class.

He was third in the regional qualifying tournament but lost his first round state tournament match Thursday night at the Pepsi Center when he was pinned by Smoky Hill’s Dexter Bees in 1:07.

“It’s really difficult,” Frazier said. “I don’t have the advantage being the smaller one. I feel like I’m a little stronger so I feel like one of them.

“It feels good to beat the 220 kids. I’ve always wrestled up. Last year I wrestled 195 and weighed 170. This year I weigh 180 and I am wrestling 220. I feels good to step up and beat them. I like to outlast them and beat them in the third period.”

Frazier will get another chance to step up today against Martin Paredes of Grand Junction Central in the consolation bracket.

GOLDEN’S SALAS FALLS IN 4A, BUT VOWS A PODIUM FINISH

After a tough loss an athlete can go in two different directions mentally.

He can get down on himself and let it spiral into another loss, or he can use it fuel him moving forward.

Golden senior Paris Salas wrestling at 145-pounds has had a borderline spectacular season for the Demons finishing 26-5, but Thursday at the Pepsi Center he fell to his rival in what was the definition of a tough draw for Salas.

Salas fell in a decision (6-0) to Pueblo South sophomore Austin Zuniga, in a meeting that could have happened later in the tournament.

Instead, the two met on Thursday night and although the score read 6-0 the match could have gone either way, and Salas, sporting dyed pink hair, refused to be pinned.

Despite Salas’ tough break and tough draw he is not discouraged. Actually, it was almost shocking to see how positive he was after his loss.

“I am disappointed with the loss but that isn’t going to stop me from being on that podium on Saturday,” Salas said, just moments after his loss. “I still have some work to do.”

While Salas wears the tightS of the Demons, he actually attends Compass Montessori.

In addition, he just started wrestling three years ago, yet his coach considers him one of the best wrestlers in 4A Jeffco.

“Not only has he had a great season he has had a tremendous career,” Golden coach Dave Sauer said. “He is a natural athlete; he could be good at anything he wants to be.”

Next up for Salas is a meeting with Pueblo Centennial senior Nick Rocha (12-17).

QUICK HITS

• Woodland Park's Thomas Chisholm scored a hard-fought 4-3 decision over Ivan Wolf of Longmont in 4A 160-pound first-round action. A stall point in the third was the difference.

• Legacy's impressive freshman Ryan Deakin gets by Rocky Nava of Northglenn 8-2 at 106 pounds. Next up is undefeated Trent Watson of Coronado

• Rough first round for Jefferson. Only Aaron Cisneros and Jesse Lucero made it through.

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