LITTLETON — The 160-pound bout during the Class 5A Jeffco League dual just looked different then all the other wrestling matches Thursday night at Chatfield High School.
Lakewood’s two-time state champion Gabe Dinette locked up with Chatfield’s three-time state qualifier E.C. Manzanares. Dinette is ranked No. 1 and Manzanares is No. 8 in the 5A 160-pound rankings put out by Tim Yount’s On the Mat rankings.
“You’ve got to appreciate good wrestling,” Chatfield coach Paul Peronard said of the 160-pound match that Dinette won with a 9-1 major decision. “Dinette is a horse. He goes out and gets after you. He is heavy on the head, kind of old-school in a way. I just love that.”
Dinette got out early with a first-period takedown and never trailed. Manzanares managed an escape in the second period, but Dinette got another takedown and then a reversal to close out the match.
“Taking every match as a learning experience is what it is,” Dinette said about his approach as he attempts to become Lakewood’s first three-time state champion in the school’s history. “Win, lose or draw it’s about learning from every match.”
After not placing at state his freshman season, Dinette went on a mission to become one of the state’s top wrestlers.
“He (Dinette) is really confident and works really hard,” Lakewood coach Daren Stennes said. “His attitude has been the same since the end of his freshman year.”
The future Stanford University wrestler racked up a 95-2 record his sophomore and junior seasons on his way to 5A titles at 145 and 152 pounds.
Dinette has dropped two out-of-state matches at a tournament in California this season. He will get a tough test when the Tigers compete at the two-day Top of the Rockies Tournament at Centaurus High School tomorrow and Saturday.
“I’m super excited,” Dinette said of heading to the Top of the Rockies for the first time. “It will be tough competition and getting that intensity level up so I’m ready for regionals.”
Despite the loss, Manzanares knows facing the favorite to win the 160-pound state title will help his preparation for regionals and hopefully a fourth straight trip to state.
“I feel like I competed decently. There are a couple of things I could fix on my feet and on bottom to make that match a little closer,” said Manzanares, who is a three-sport (football wrestling and baseball) athlete. “Wrestling him was fun, just got to find ways to get on top.”
While Manzanares is familiar with Pepsi Center, he has never placed at the state tournament.
“My goal is to peak at the prefect time and if I do that I’m putting myself in the best position I can,” Manzanares said. “I’ve never placed at state and that’s the main goal.”
According to Peronard, Manzanares had wrestled nine ranked wrestlers this season and his record in those matches is 6-3.
With Manzanares being a three-sport athlete, that has limited his time on the wrestling mat. However, Peronard said the senior got in some training before football season even ended this year to get a jump on preparing for his final year wrestling.
“One thing that works against (Manzanares) is he is a great athlete,” Peronard said. “I get him after football season because he is an all-conference player and I don’t see him much during the summer because he is a varsity baseball player. It always seems like we are behind the curve getting ready.”
When it came to the team points in the dual Thursday night, Lakewood edged Chatfield 44-36.
One of the turning points in the match was at 138 pounds. Lakewood’s William Wallace trailed Chatfield’s Will Guess 17-7 in the third period, but Wallace was able to get a reversal and pin with under a minute to go to get the victory.
“We put some young guys in there. They looked young, but they did well,” Stennes said. “We were happy with the matches.”
Chatfield heads Saturday to Smoky Hill High School in Aurora for a tournament as the regular season quickly wraps up. The state qualifying regional tournament will be Feb. 9 and 10, with the state tournament Feb. 15-17 at Pepsi Center in Denver.