DENVER -- Paonia’s Jesse Reed has an opportunity to accomplish a feat only seventeen Colorado high school wrestlers have achieved in history.
The Paonia junior will look to join the select group of four-time state champions next season after claiming his third state crown Saturday evening at the Pepsi Center.
Reed faced off against Swink’s Austin Coy in the 126-pound weight class. The match was the premier showdown of the 2A state finals. Reed was 39-0 on the season, Coy 32-0, and both had won their first three matches of the state tourney convincingly.
“Game plan was to score quick, score early,” said Reed, but neither wrestler was able to gain the upper hand in the first two periods.
“Of course, it was 0-0 going into the third, but I was looking for that tilt,” Reed said. “I knew that tilt would be there, so I hit it and it gave me a 4-0 match. That really changed the whole match right there.”
But Coy was a tough customer throughout and wouldn’t go away. The Swink junior made it 4-2 with 1:10 remaining, but Reed attacked again and forced Coy into a 6-2 deficit with forty seconds left.
Reed went into defensive mode and prevented any big points from Coy the rest of the match. Coy made a last second desperate attempt for points and made it 6-4 with seven seconds left, but Reed, learning his lesson from teammate, Josh Altman, who lost in a last second, heartbreaking 120 pound semifinals match Friday night, turtle-shelled and held on.
“It’s smart,” Reed said about his method of defense with seven seconds remaining. “You don’t want to get tossed and lose. That came out in my best friend Josh Altman’s match in the semis. He was up and he got thrown with three seconds left and he ended up fourth when he probably could’ve gotten first.”
Reed was able to hold on and complete a dominant 40-0 season. He took time to reflect on his already storied career at Paonia and his run of success at the state tournament.
“It’s tough every year,” Reed said. “My freshman year was probably tougher, because I was a freshman. Just mentally, that’s probably why it was tougher for me to go in there and beat the senior in the finals. This year, it was tough again, but I came through.”
The Paonia junior won the 113-pound division as a freshman, the 120-pound division as a sophomore, and the-126 pound division as a junior.
Two freshman wrestlers familiar with each other started the finals competition off with a bang in the 106 pound weight class. John Mall’s Jonathan Andreatta entered the title match 37-1 on the season, a very impressive campaign for the first year high school student. Ignacio’s Stocker Robbins was 37-6 on the season. The talented freshman knew each other all too well.
“We wrestled in middle school a lot,” Andreatta said. “He’s beaten me like three times. In middle school I beat him twice and then I beat him earlier this season by two points.”
Andreatta was in control throughout the state championship match and won by pin in 3:41.
“I went out there and was focusing on my takedowns,” John Mall’s freshman champion said after the win. “I got him taken down, I went to a turn, and I kept going and I caught him on his back a few times. I was able to finally pin him.”
Andreatta was mostly speechless afterwards and in awe described his victory as simply, “Unbelievable, unbelievable.”
Meeker’s T.J. Shelton knew what it was like to be in Andreatta’s shoes last season when he claimed the 160-pound state title as a freshman. Wrestling at 170 pounds this year, Shelton pinned all four of his opponents on the way to his second state championship. He topped off his dominant weekend with a pin of Lyons’ Jon Hickman in 4:41.
“It feels great,” Shelton said. “It feels the same as winning the first one. It was a lot similar. I went in there with the same kind of head. I wanted to take it and defend it.”
Shelton completed a 32-2 sophomore season and was pleased with his performance throughout the year.
“It was pretty good,” the Meeker wrestler said. “I got a slow start. I had an injury early and I couldn’t wrestle the first tournament. Other than that, I just progressed. I wrestled some really tough kids. One kid was ranked sixth in the nation, kicked my butt, and taught me a few lessons.”
“I’ve got track season now,” Shelton added. “I can’t really celebrate. I have to keep rolling.”
Other highlights of Saturday’s 2A action included Baca County’s Johnny Loflin defending his 195 pound state crown with a hard fought, hard-nosed 7-3 decision over Rocky Ford’s Nate Finnell. Loflin placed 5th, 2nd, 1st, and 1st at the state tourney during his outstanding career at Baca County.
Loflin’s first cousin, Luke Loflin, a junior at Baca County, lost to fellow junior Blake Denton of Swink in a tough 3-2 state championship battle at 145 pounds.
Stratton’s M.C. Griffin closed his high school career with his first state championship and a 33-1 senior campaign. Griffin earned his crown with a 3-2 decision over Swink’s Brody Wisemon in the 182 pound weight class.
Burlington’s Jon Satterly, a sophomore and relatively unknown wrestler who didn’t win his regional title, surprised the 220 pound field by making a run all the way to the finals match. Satterly succumbed to Center’s Luis Mariscal, a senior, by pin in one minute and fifty five seconds in the finals, but certainly had a tremendous tourney run. Satterly closed the season 29-21. Mariscal went 33-4 his senior year.
Paonia’s machine of a wrestling program won their third consecutive state championship and fifth in school history with 180 points. All five of the Eagles’ wrestlers in the finals were victorious as Reed won the 126 pound weight class, Bo Pipher won the 132 class, Ty Coats won the 152 class, Zach Milner won the 160 class, and Tony Darling won the 285 class.
Sophomore Pipher, junior Milner, and seniors Coats and Darling were all first-time state champions for Paonia.
Baca County was second as a team with 112.5 points, Meeker was third with 98.5, and Sedgwick County/Fleming finished fourth with 88.5 points.
The 126-pound weight class final was the climax of the evening in 2A. Jesse Reed and Austin Coy’s bout lived up to its lofty billing between two undefeated juniors and was a fantastic finish.
Reed admitted after the match that he is already thinking about making history as a four-timer.
“I definitely have four-time on my mind, but there’s a lot of hard work that has to come before that,” Reed said. “I have to work harder than I did this year.”
Reed exemplified the hard working, passionate Paonia powerhouse with a stalwart third individual state championship on Saturday evening in Denver.