Palisade boys wrestling taking high aim at regionals

(Jodi Young)

Sometimes the best way to be successful is just to have fun and compete against teammates much as opponents. That's an approach that's worked all year for the Palisade boys wrestling team at it heads into Class 4A, Region 2 competition in Colorado Springs this weekend.

Both Judah Guajardo and Lodan Head are instruments of that success as both wrestlers boast undefeated records in 2021.

Guajardo is hoping to keep his record at 132 pounds unblemished heading into state while Head is hoping for the same result at 145.

"They don't get to practice against each other too much because there's just so much difference in weight," coach Tanner Ridgeway said. "They both have really good partners. Lodan works out with Zach Barnett, who's a little bit heavier than him and gives him a good push. Judah works out with Jacob Lee who has also done well this year."

Franklin Barks is another undefeated Palisade wrestler, amassing a 14-0 record at 152 pounds.

It's been a bit of a different season due to COVID-19 restrictions but the Bulldogs have made the best of it. While competing against their opponents on the mats, they try and to throw in other side games within the team to help push each other to be at their best.

"We have some rivalry, some competition (between us)," Guajardo said. "Some duals we have fastest pin. We have a most pins competition going. It's just stuff to keep us hungry and fighting throughout the course of the season."

It's hard to say it doesn't work.

They didn't mention whether they'd keep that internal competition going once they got to regionals, but sometimes it's not necessary to fix something if it's not broken. The focus is just going to be more lasered on advancing to next week's state tournament.

Although at a different venue this year, the goals and dreams of these wrestlers aren't wavering as they still dream of standing at the top of the podium, sporting a freshly won gold medal.

(Jodi Young)

"I didn't go to state last year so I never experienced Ball Arena and everything," Head said. "I just think it's going to be full of people working hard and trying to fulfill their dreams."

That's the ultimate goal and Guajardo and Head will continue to utilize competition with their teammates to better their wrestling performances against their opponents.

Those two have matching 20-0 records heading into the weekend. With 16-athlete brackets in each weight class, they'll have to win four matches to advance to the Southwest Motors Event Center in Pueblo for next week's state tournament.

Regionals are divided by weight class and spread out over two days at each location. But regardless of format or location, the Bulldogs feel that the effort they've put into the season will payoff when state qualifiers are announced at the end of each day.

"I think the work we've been putting in during practice is enough," Guajardo said. "Our condition is good, we've been conditioning all year. We've been wrestling tough all year. We'll be good just based on how we've done in past duals."

(Jodi Young)