No. 2 Jefferson on course for more wrestling success

WHEAT RIDGE — Jefferson’s wrestling program is on a similar course it took two seasons ago.

The Saints are looking to regain the form at Pepsi Center they had two years ago. Jefferson placed second at state in the Class 3A team standings with Kyle Cisneros (132) and Oscar Lopez (220) closing out their senior seasons with individual titles.

Jefferson's Alberto Zelaya, top, works on Wheat Ridge senior Jayce Chea during the 160-pound match Thursday night at Wheat Ridge High School. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

As a freshman, Nick Gallegos took home third place at 138 during the Saints' second-place finish in 2017.

“I think we have even more depth this year,” Jefferson coach Oscar Fonseca said when comparing the 2017 state runner-up team to this year’s squad. “We have more kids this year that are right there in the hunt for a state title and placing at state.”

On The Mat wrestling ranking guru Tim Yount agrees. He moved the Saints up a spot to No. 2 in his latest 3A team rankings released this week.

Cayden Condit, Angelo Lozado, Daniel Soto, Cruz Ortega, Andrew Sansburn, Zander Condit, Gallegos and Alberto Zelaya are all ranked individually by Yount with the state qualifying regional tournaments coming up Feb. 15 and 15.

“I definitely think we have some kids who are ready to scrap down at state,” said Sansburn, who is ranked No. 2 at 132 pounds after placing third last year at state 126 pounds. “I think Coach Oscar is going to have us peaking at the right time.”

Cayden Condit, far right, will attempt to be a two-time state qualifier after making the state tournament last year wrestling at Conifer. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

The addition of the Condit sister/brother tandem has helped the Saints’ depth. Cayden and Zander are students at Conifer High School, but the Lobos dropped their wrestling program this season.

“It’s been great we love Jefferson,” Cayden said of her and older brother Zander Condit wrestling for the Saints. “They have really welcomed us and made us part of the family that they have already established.”

Cayden qualified as a freshman last year to join the elite list of females who have qualified for the Colorado state wrestling tournament. Zander placed fifth at state as a sophomore.

The road for Cayden won’t be easy. She is in one of the roughest 3A regionals for the 106 pounders, but she isn’t backing down from the challenge.

“I’ll just prepare like I do for any other tournament,” said Cayden, who won a girls wrestling tournament in California earlier this month. “I’m just pushing in the wrestling room and drilling more and more every day.”

Cayden hasn’t wrestling any girls tournament in Colorado. Her main focus remains qualifying for state again with the ultimate goal of becoming the first girl to place at the state tournament.

“I’ve just been sticking to the boys tournaments,” Cayden said. “I’ve wrestled boys all my life. I feel like the competition is a little harder. Beating up on boys is kind of fun.”

Jefferson's Cruz Ortega, top, scored a 15-0 tech fall against Wheat Ridge's Steven Merrill at 126 pounds. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

Jefferson will have the luxury of hosting the 3A Region 3 tournament.

“It will be fun and really cool,” Sansburn said of the Saints hosting the regional sponsored by Northwestern Mutual Wagner Wealth Management Group coming up next month. “I’m really excited to have that home-field advantage this year and us not having to drive down to Pueblo this year.”

Sansburn is approaching the 100-win career mark during his prep wrestling career that started at Bear Creek. Juniors Zander Condit and Gallegos just reached the 100-win mark.

“We have the tools to do something special,” Fonseca said. “It’s the same thing like a couple of years ago because we are working hard, doing extra practices and in really good shape. We are even going to be better in two or three weeks.”

Jefferson dominated Wheat Ridge in a dual Thursday night on the Farmers’ home mat. Only five varsity matches were wrestled. The Saints earned four wins by pin and a technical fall to sweep all the matches.

However, Wheat Ridge coach David Osse said he will be rooting for the Saints as they continue toward another magic finish to the season.

“He (Fonseca) has done a wonderful job growing that program,” Osse said. “I think it’s great for Jefferson High School. He has really given them something to hang their hat on. They are going to continue being successful.”

Wheat Ridge heads to Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver for the Class 4A Region 1 tournament coming up in a little over three weeks.

Wheat Ridge senior Frank Castillo qualified to the 4A state tournament last year at heavyweight. He was the lone Farmer to pick up a victory Thursday night. Jefferson forfeited at 285 so Castillo got the win in his final home dual.