Pueblo County rolls to Top of the Rockies wrestling crown

(Brian Miller/CHSAANow.com)

LAFAYETTE — If there was a theme Saturday night for a number of wrestlers at the Top of the Rockies tournament, it was “unfinished business”.

Take Pueblo East’s Jace Trujillo, for example. The junior was on his way to defending his state championship last February, only to stumble in the state semifinals. Trujillo eventually finished fifth, which was more than enough motivation to get the Eagles standout going this summer.

“It was kind of devastating for me. I was so determined to work my butt off and just get that last one, but I just didn’t have it in me. I had no energy,” Trujillo said. “It pushed me this year to go the fullest.”

Trujillo edged city rival Josiah Nava of Pueblo County in the 120-pound final Saturday night at Centaurus High School in what was arguably the match of the night. Trujillo and Nava went back and forth in a match that included five reversals, scoring a late takedown and near fall to win 13-10.

“I just kept attacking and kept going as hard as I can,” Trujillo said. “Trying to get my moves, get my shots. I had to control the match and do whatever I can to keep him down.”

Pueblo County still came out on top as a team though. The Hornets, backed by titles from Brendon Garcia and Nathan Bonham, scored 202.5 points to easily finish first. Pueblo East (166), Grand Junction (160.5), Poudre (144.5) and Ponderosa (121) rounded out the top five.

“Coaches love the competition, and we love it just as much,” Bonham said. “That’s what all the training and hard work is for, stuff like this. Come and face the best teams in Colorado.”

Like Trujillo, Bonham came up just short a year ago as a sophomore. Bonham lost in the 120-pound title match at state, 2-0.

“We look at that as motivation for us,” Bonham said. “Come out here and do better than we did last time.”

Bonham pinned Adams City’s Nicholas Gonzalez in three minutes, 38 seconds at 126 pounds. Garcia won by a 6-4 decision at 113 pounds over Pueblo East’s Andrew Lucero. Dante Garcia was second at 220 after an injury forfeit.

“It was a great match. I wrestled him last week and he beat me,” Bonham said. “The kid’s great. During the match, I just knew I had to keep up with my scrambling. I knew it was going to be a hard match coming into it.”

The outstanding wrestlers were Monarch freshman Vince Cornella (106 pounds) in the lower weights, and Ponderosa’s Cohlton Schultz (285) in the upper weights.

Grand Junction’s Josiah Rider (152) and Seth Lathum (182) captured titles for the Tigers, who were the top 5A team. Dylan Martinez was second at 145 after falling 7-1 to three-time defending state champion Jacob Greenwood of Poudre.

Lathum scored a 17-1 technical fall over Legacy’s Drian Hays after losing to Hays in the third-place match at state last year.

“I’m getting better this year and I know the work I’m putting in in the room and outside the room is going to show,” Lathum said. “I’ve just been trying to bust my butt in that wrestling room, working out and doing what I have to win matches like this that I lost last year.”

Lathum said placing fourth two years in a row was an eye-opener for him, and the senior already has 30 wins this year. As for the team, Grand Junction continues to serve notice that it may be the team to beat in 5A. The Tigers were second to Pomona last February.

 “We’re there as a team. We dualed Pomona and beat them, we beat them in tournaments,” Lathum said. “We’re there, and we’re very capable of it. It’s just everyone showing up at the Pepsi Center and doing what they can to get us a team championship.”

Ponderosa claimed three titles Saturday night, including the one by Schultz at heavyweight. The junior pinned his way through the tournament, including a fall at 1:44 over Rocky Ford’s Greg Garcia in the finals.

Parker Benekas (170) and Jayden Woodruff (195) also won titles. Benekas posted a 4-2 decision over Adams City’s Christian Powell in his first match at that weight; Woodruff also pinned his way through the tournament, including a pin in 1:01 Saturday night.

Both Mustangs finished second at state a year ago.

“I want to win so bad, me and Jayden both,” said Benekas, who moved up a weight class to get bigger for college. “We’ve been really working hard this season.”

Pomona’s Theorius Robison (132) and Colton Yapoujian (138) finished first to help the Panthers place sixth. Cornella earned a 19-5 major decision at 106; Lakewood’s Gabe Dinette won 4-2 at 160; and Mason Watt won via injury forfeit at 220.

Top of the Rockies

At Centaurus High School

Top 10 Team Scores: Pueblo County 202.5, Pueblo East 166, Grand Junction 160.5, Poudre 144.5, Ponderosa 121, Pomona 120.5, Broomfield 117, Legacy 104, Grandview 101.5, Monarch 97.

106 – Vince Cornella, Monarch, maj. dec. Paul Garcia, Scottsbluff (Neb)., 19-5
113 – Brendon Garcia, Pueblo County, dec. Andrew Lucero, Pueblo East, 6-4
120 – Jace Trujillo, Pueblo East, dec. Josiah Nava, Pueblo County, 13-10
126 – Nathan Bonham, Pueblo County, pin Nicholas Gonzales, Adams City, 3:38
132 – Theorius Robison, Pomona, dec. Darren Green, Broomfield, 16-11
138 – Colton Yapoujian, Pomona, dec. Cole Polluconi, Monarch, 2-1 UTB
145 – Jacob Greenwood, Poudre, dec. Dylan Martinez, Grand Junction, 7-1
152 – Josiah Rider, def. Parker McQuade, Monarch, via injury forfeit
160 – Gabe Dinette, Lakewood, dec. Orion Gutierrez, Rio Rancho (NM), 4-2
170 – Parker Benekas, Ponderosa, dec. Christian Powell, Adams City, 4-2
182 – Seth Lathum, Grand Junction, tech. fall Drian Hays, Legacy, 17-1
195 – Jayden Woodruff, Ponderosa, pin Edward Chavez, Rio Ranch (NM), 1:01
220 – Mason Watt, Broomfield, def. Dante Garcia, Pueblo County, via injury forfeit
285 – Cohlton Schultz, Ponderosa, pin Gabe Garcia, Rocky Ford, 1:44.