3A wrestling's 120-pound state final should be epic

DENVER -- Whoever wins the Class 3A 120-pound championship Saturday night at Pepsi Center will add to an already impressive resume.

Olathe senior Trenton Piatt is undefeated on the season with a 34-0 record. Piatt’s opponent in Saturday night’s championship bout will be Brush junior Conrad Cole, who won the 113-pound title in 2013 and took third at 106 as a freshman.

“(Piatt) is a good opponent. He is undefeated for a reason. It’s going to be a battle all the way through,” said Cole, who used a late third-period pin to end his close semifinal match Friday night against Cedaredge sophomore Austin Todd. “It might be one of the best (finals) in the whole state tournament.”

The parade of champions is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Pepsi Center with the finals in all four classifications to follow.

Cole and Piatt have never faced each other. While Cole came in as a defending state champion, Piatt was the top seed with his undefeated record.

“You are always nervous coming into state,” Piatt said after pinning Lamar sophomore Michael Johnson in the second period of his semifinal. “The atmosphere is just crazy.”

Cole already has something Piatt wants, a state title. Piatt came up just short on his previous three trips downtown. As a freshman he took third at 103. He was a state runner-up at 113 in 2012 and placed fourth at 120 last year.

Piatt has cruised to three pins in his first three matches of the three-day tournament. A fourth pin Saturday night would finally give the senior his elusive state championship.

“The ‘W’ most of all, but if that pin happens that would be nice too,” Piatt said. “I’m just looking for the win.”

Monte Vista senior Diondre Garcia will also attempt to end his prep career on the top of the podium for a second straight year. Garcia dominated Fort Lupton freshman Jody Sandoval with a 15-5 major decision in the semifinals at 106.

“I’ll try not to think about it,” Garcia said when asked if it was hitting him that his high school wrestling season is nearly over. “I’ll focus on tomorrow’s big match. I’ll let that all come after the final.”

Garcia has been a staple at 106 pounds in 3A all four years. He won his first state title last year after being a state runner-up in 2012 and placing sixth in 2011.

“I feel like I have a lot of experience over these kids,” Garcia said. “I feel like the big dog here.”

Garcia will square off against Alamosa freshman Isaiah DeLaCerda in the final. The senior has defeated the freshman twice already this season, but their second battle went overtime.

After losing in state final as a sophomore Garcia decided to focus on wrestling so he could train year round. He believes that was a turning point in becoming a state champion.

Holy Family will attempt to make school history tomorrow. The school has never had a state-wrestling champion. Twin brothers Julian and Joseph Prieto are both in the final. Joseph became the first Holy Family wrestler to make a final last year, but lost his match at 126.

Julian will wrestle Dolores Huerta senior Jared Mestas in the 132 final. Joseph will face Valley senior Omar Sotelo at 138.

“It’s going to be fun,” Joseph said. “It’s going to be nice to have someone there with you that you know.”

Joseph took a glance over at his younger brother – by a minute – before starting his semifinal match Friday. Joseph pinned Monte Vista junior Jacob Vance at the 1:30 mark in the first period.

Moments later, Julian pinned Olathe junior Austin Shank midway through the third period to join his brother in the championship matches.

Before Saturday’s championships matches, it will be a busy day for those wrestlers working their way through the consolation brackets at Pepsi Center.

The third round of consolations will start at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The fifth- and third-place matches begin at 2 p.m. for both the 3A and 2A classifications.

Valley is closing in on its first team wrestling title in the school’s history. The Vikings have a healthy lead with 124 points going into the final day. Centauri is second with 105 points. Monte Vista holds third with 90.5 and Brush is fourth with 87.

Valley takes five wrestlers into the finals, including sophomore Macoy Flanagan who scored the biggest upset in the 3A semifinals. Flanagan upset defending state champion Andrew Register of The Classical Academy with a 3-1 overtime victory at 145.