EDGEWATER — Wrestlers from across the state traveled the final pathway Saturday toward Pepsi Center and the state tournament.
Sixteen regional tournaments in the four classifications spread out throughout Colorado took to the mats Saturday with a grand total of 896 wrestlers punching their ticket to the 3-day state tournament (Feb. 21-23) in downtown Denver.
The journey for Jefferson junior Nicholas Gallegos has had its fair share of peaks and valleys. As a freshman, Gallegos placed third at 138 pounds during the Class 3A state tournament in 2017. He appeared poised to be on the podium against last year, but was in a bad car accident days before the state tournament.
“When I got in the car accident I tore my groin and severed a couple of disks in my back,” said Gallegos, who did give it a go at state despite the injuries. He lost 2-0 in his opening match and bowed out of the tournament with an injury default. “I think I’ll be taking a bike from now on.”
While Gallegos can make light of the tragic injury from last year, he was clearly focused during the Northwestern Mutual Wagner Health Management 3A Region 3 tournament at Jefferson High School on Friday and Saturday. He went 4-0 over the two-day regional tournament with three pins that totaled 71 seconds and a technical fall victory.
“I didn’t really break a sweat, but competition is competition,” said Gallegos, who pinned Weld Central sophomore Braden Baumgartner in 22 seconds in the 152-pound title bout Saturday night.
Gallegos will take a 39-7 record, along with his No. 1 ranking by On The Mat into the state tournament.
“He (Gallegos) will even be better next week,” Jefferson coach Oscar Fonseca said. “He is hungry. He is humble and he knows the hardships. He knows nothing is going to be given to you. He’ll have to earn it next week.”
Jefferson senior Andrew Sansburn earned himself a regional title at 132 pounds. Sansburn, also ranked No. 1 in his weight class, got a takedown with 20 seconds left in the third period against Eagle Valley junior Lucas Comroe, No. 2 ranked, to take a 9-7 victory.
“It was fun. I had fun out there,” said Sansburn, who never lost a match on the Saints’ home mats during his two years at Jefferson. “I started out a little chippy, but I finished out strong. I’m ready for next week.”
Sansburn started his high school career at Bear Creek, but decided to transfer over the Jefferson after his sophomore year. The change has paid off for the senior. Sansburn placed third at state at 126 pounds last year.
“It was a good move,” Sansburn said of transferring to Jefferson. “I moved in with my mom who lives in the district. The coaches and my wrestling partners are just amazing.”
The third Saint to take a regional title was freshman Angelo Lozado. The No. 2 ranked wrestler at 113 in 3A edged Elizabeth senior Kris Kramer 8-7 in the championship bout.
“He (Lozado) is a pretty tough kid,” Fonseca said. “He is going to come at you and keep going. I really like where he is at right now.”
Jefferson junior Zander Condit was the lone Saint in the finals who didn’t come away as a regional champion. Eaton senior Dylan Yancey pinned Condit in the third period.
“Zander will be 100 percent next week,” Fonseca said.
Condit battled through an injury last year at the state meet to place fifth at 132 pounds while wrestling for Conifer. The Lobos dropped their wrestling program this year so Zander and his younger sister Cayden wrestled for Jefferson this year.
Cayden, a sophomore, was attempting to become a back-to-back state qualifier. However, she lost both her of matches at regionals to fall short of her goal.
Skyview senior Jaslynn Gallegos was able to successfully maneuver her way through the tough 106-pound weight class.
“I looked at the bracket, I’m a big nerd like that who likes to look at those things,” Jaslynn Gallegos admitted. “I knew it would be kind of tough, but I knew if I wrestled like I know how to wrestle I knew I’d be OK.”
She won three straight consolation matches to place third at 106 pounds to join the ranking of female wrestlers who have qualified in the Colorado High School Activities Association’s boys state wrestling tournament.
“I’m hoping. That’s my goal,” she said of her chance to be the first female wrestler to place at state. “My goal since I was really little was to make it to the boys state (wrestling) tournament. Now the new goal is to place.”
Jaslynn Gallegos came in ranked No. 8 at 106 pounds in 3A. She defeated Eaton’s Alex Castaneda (No. 6) and Eagle Valley’s Matthew Medina (No. 5) on her way to advancing to her first state tournament.
Eaton did come away with the regional team title. The Reds racked up 212.5 team points. Jefferson placed fourth, but it had a similar finish at regional two years ago before going on to finish as the 3A state runner-up.
“It’s a possibility,” Fonseca said of the Saints having a shot to repeat their second-place team finish from 2016. “What I personally want is the kids to go out there, go hard and whatever shakes out shakes out. As long as we have good attitudes I like our chances.”