DENVER – Rocky Ford is back on top the Colorado wrestling world.
After entering Saturday sitting third in the race for the Class 2A team title, the Meloneers put together an emphatic performance that began in the fifth- and third-place matches and rolled all the way through the finals at Pepsi Center – running away with the state championship.
The team title is the second in three years for Rocky Ford, which won in 2015 and finished runner-up a year ago, just a single point behind Meeker – one of the two teams that had an edge over the Meloneers after day two of the three-day tournament.
It also marked the 12th wrestling championship in program history, now more than any other school among all classifications.
“That was an outstanding day. You couldn’t finish the day any better than they did,” coach Mike Jurney said. “They’ve been focused on that goal after losing by one point last year. Our theme all year was ‘Do more’, and they did today.”
Headlining Rocky Ford’s championship run was senior Jacob Rodriguez, who kicked the opening finals match off with a win by pin in the 106-pound weight class. Rodriguez, the No. 1 seed, pinned Chris McKenna of John Mall in 3:49, his longest-lasting duel in the state tournament by far.
Rodriguez had blazed through Thursday’s and Friday’s matches, posting wins by pin in 0:14, 0:45 and 1:01 – competing for only a collective two minutes before Saturday’s final. The individual title was his third-straight, all at 106 throughout his high-school career (finished third as a freshman in 2014).
“It feels pretty great knowing that I’m the second three-time state champ in Rocky Ford (history), and having everyone’s support – even the people watching at home,” Rodriguez said. “It took the rest that I had to try to force (McKenna’s) other shoulder down to get that fall for my team.”
The Meloneers continued to roll in the ensuing 113 match as sophomore Dillon Jaramillo won by 3-2 decision over Sergio Campos of Hotchkiss. Also bringing home an individual title for Rocky Ford was senior Cody Venem, who defeated top-ranked Marshall Ross of John Mall by 9-3 decision at 132.
Andreatta reclaims top spot on podium
There’s one match that will always haunt John Mall’s Jonathan Andreatta. It now stings a little less, however, thanks to his performance on Saturday.
After winning state titles his freshman (106 in 2014) and sophomore (113 in 2015) seasons, Andreatta’s vision for the prestigious four-peat was abruptly derailed last year when he lost in the 120 finals to Quinton Montague of Centauri, which now wrestles in 3A.
His response? A revenge tour.
Andreatta rattled off 37 wins since that last defeat here a year ago, completing an undefeated run to reestablishing himself as a state champion (126) for his third-career title.
“It drove me every single day,” Andreatta said. “I kept that second-place medal, and it was hung up in the wrestling room. Whenever it got tough, I stared right at it. It was ‘don’t quit, otherwise this is going to happen again’.”
Gaede also caps undefeated season
Limon junior Kaleb Gaede’s undefeated season came down to the wire as he found himself tied 4-4 with Norwood/Nucla’s Ethan Barnes with only seconds remaining.
He then flipped his opponent with only a second to spare, winning by pin in 5:59 to finish 37-0 overall and the 220 champion.
“It feels phenomenal. There’s no feeling that can beat this,” Gaede said. “I could care less about wins and losses. It’s whatever makes you better for this tournament. Undefeated doesn’t mean much. But that title means everything.”
2A individual champions
Peyton senior Britton Holmes repeated as state champion with a 5-3 decision over Ignacio’s Ethan Appenzeller at 145. That’s back-to-back titles now for Holmes, who won at 138 in 2016.
Norwood/Nucla boasted three individual champions in senior Hayden Harris, who won at 152 by 4-3 decision; junior Aidan Dabal, whose pin in 3:09 claimed 160; and senior Trenton Armintrout at 170 by 1-0 decision.
John Mall had two champions as freshman Wesley Vanmatre won 120 by 6-3 decision and senior Jason Murphy claimed 195 by 3-2 decision.
Lyons junior Keegan Bean had a 7-5 victory at 182. Meeker senior Sheridan Harvey won 138 by 4-2, and Paonia senior Trver Smith closed the tournament out with a 4-3 decision win at 285.