DENVER — Another chapter has been added to the legacy of Alamosa's wrestling program.
The Mean Moose dominated the Class 3A state tournament in winning their 11th state championship with 164 points Saturday night at the Pepsi Center.
The Mean Moose, who sent 11 wrestlers into the tournament, put away the championship earlier in the evening and won their first state title since they won three in a row in Class 3A from 2011-2013.
Alamosa is now third all time for the most wrestling state championships in Colorado history behind only Rocky Ford and Wray, which have 12 each. All the Mean Moose’s state crowns have come with head coach Gary Ramstetter, who just completed his 37th season as the boss of the program. Eaton finished second in the team race with 145 points, followed by Lamar at 100 points.
“This feels great,” Ramstetter said. “This is what we work for. I have a good group of guys. I still like doing this. I’ve been doing it my whole life.”
The Mean Moose also won state championships in 1988 (AA), and 1992, 1995, 1998-99, and 2006-2007 all in Class 4A.
Alamosa’s latest title run was powered by cousins, Davion Chavez (106 pounds), and Joe Chavez (126) captured gold medals. The Mean Moose’s individual winners was increased to 58.
Reis Martinez also was a runner-up at 152 pounds as was heavyweight Preston Duran.
Joe Chavez won in dramatic fashion, leading 5-4 late in the match and then pinning Brush’s Caleb Cox with eight seconds remaining.
“I just stayed low and I knew I had to keep wrestling,” said Chavez, who finished the season with a 42-6 record. “I kept moving and he kind of got high and I just stacked him over his own head to get the pin. It feels great to win with my cousin because we have put in so much work together. Winning the team title is great because that’s what we were striving for all year.”
Chavez, a junior, has now won back-to-back state championships as he won at 120 pounds in 2017.
Davion Chavez, a freshman, concurred with his cousin.
“It’s amazing to win state,” he said. “I’ve been working for over 10 years for this and it finally all paid off. It’s great to know that I contributed to our team state championship and helped my team reach that goal. It just feels awesome.”
Chavez (36-8) beat Trinidad’s Alberto Felthager (36-6), 6-2.
The Mean Moose’s latest title run also was boosted by 113-pound Elijah DeLaCerda (third place), 132-pound Tyler Kenison (fourth), 145-pound Kolten Hillis (fifth), and 220-pound Logan Thompson (fourth).
When La Junta’s Isaiah Gamez muscled past Berthoud’s Kolten Strait 6-2 in the 113-pound finals, one thought immediately came to his mind – his late great grandmother Rosemary Gamez. Gamez passed away Nov. 22 at the age of 84.
“This just feels great,” Isaiah said. “I wanted to control the match the whole time, make it my match not his. Ever since my great grandma passed away everything I’ve done is for her. She was my rock. I never thought I could do this and she always believed I could do it.”
The sophomore finished the season with a 36-5 record.
Third time is a charm
For the last two years, Valley’s Brandon Damian came up short falling in the state finals.
The senior wasn’t about to be denied Saturday night and he came through with a 3-1 decision over Centauri’s Brandon Buhr. Damian clinched the victory with a takedown with 22 seconds to go in the third period.
“I have been working so hard this whole season and in practice we do those situations where it is 1-1 with 20 seconds left in the third period and you have to get that takedown,” Damian said. “I knew I had to go, I couldn’t wait. I had to shoot, and when I got the takedown I secured it all.”
As a freshman, Damian took third at 120 pounds, and he was second as a sophomore and junior at 132 pounds.
“I have been working to win state ever since my freshman year and I finally got over that hump, and it feels so good,” said Damian, who capped his season at 34-2. “This is the best feeling in the world.”
Damian also was chosen top wrestler in the state 3A tournament.
Centauri’s Brandon Buhr, a fellow senior, finished the season with a 46-4 record.
The wait is over for Johns
Junior Nathan Johns of The Classical Academy doesn’t have to wait any longer for a state wrestling title.
Johns edged Valley’s Josh Flanigan 3-2 with an escape in the ultimate overtime tiebreaker at 182 pounds. The same Flanigan who lost to in overtime in a match earlier this season.
“These two guys are so evenly matched that neither guy really wanted to commit,” said TCA coach Sean Collins. “It was a very tactical match and we were able to make it where he couldn’t score with phenomenal defense and we capitalized when we need to.”
Johns couldn’t wipe the smile off his face as he was being congratulated by his teammates. He finished the season with a 34-3 record.
“This is incredible,” said Johns, who lost in the state finals at 182 pounds a year ago. “I’m so happy. This is just amazing.”
Johns is the second state wrestling champion in TCA’s history. Andrew Register won the Titans inaugural title on the mat in 2014 at 135 pounds.
Eaton moves up
Eaton High School’s wrestling team had a strong showing finishing second to Alamosa. Eaton’s is coached by Tony Mustari. Mustari was a three-time state champion at Greeley Central.
The Reds lone finalist was Ariel Rodriguez (46-10), and the senior dropped an 8-4 decision to Berthoud’s Austyn Binkly (38-5).
Weld Central doubles up
The Rebels of Weld Central flexed their muscles with back-to-back state crowns.
Weld Central’s Jimmy LaConte (39-2) def. Steamboat Springs’ Hayden Johnson (32-4), 7-6. LaConte’s teammate, Quentin Jiner (32-5) followed that up with a 7-5 decision over Moffat County’s Mikinzie Klimper.
Other winners grabbing gold
During a night filled with emotion, there were several other grapplers basking in championship glory. Grand Valley’s A.J. Serna (120 pounds), Buena Vista’s Anthony Quintana (132), Sheridan’s Faustin Lopez (195), Lamar’s Bart Gruenloh (220) and Delta heavyweight Logan Church. Quintana (40-0) and Church (35-0) finished their state-winning seasons with perfect records.