AURORA | The 2023 Class 5A and 4A boys state wrestling tournament at a glance:

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports

Nine Aurora programs — Aurora Central, Cherokee Trail, Eaglecrest, Grandview, Overland, Rangeview, Regis Jesuit and Smoky Hill in Class 5A and Vista PEAK in 4A — will be represented at the 2023 boys state wrestling tournament, which is set for Feb. 16-18, 2023, at Ball Arena. The tournament returned to Downtown Denver last year after it was held in Pueblo in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Grandview has the largest state contingent of qualifiers (8), followed by Cherokee Trail and Eaglecrest (6 apiece), Regis Jesuit (5), Vista PEAK (3), Aurora Central and Smoky Hill (2 apiece) and Overland and Rangeview with one apiece.

Full Class 5A/4A state state tournament pairings, here

∙ The first round of the Class 5A/4A state tournament begins at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, with matches running until they are completed. Championship quarterfinals take place at 12:45 p.m. Friday and championship semifinals at 6:30 p.m., followed by the second round of consolations. The third round of consolation matches are set for 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by consolation semifinals, then third– and fifth-place matches as mats become available. The Parade of Champions for the finalists in 2A-5A plus girls begins at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, preceding championship matches.

∙ Tim Yount of On The Mat released his predictions for the top six placewinners in each of the 14 weight classes and his predictions — based on a thorough analysis of the bracket and how wrestlers have performed coming into the tournament — have 11 Aurora wrestlers making their way onto the medal podium and five others one match away from making the medal round depending on the flow of the tournament.

Yount’s projections have six Aurora wrestlers, starting with the Vista PEAK duo of seniors Ezekiel Taylor and Oscar Valdez at 190 and 215 pounds, respectively, in 4A. In the 5A tournament, he has picked Eaglecrest junior Adonias Cantu (106 pounds), Regis Jesuit sophomore Garrett Reece (132), Grandview senior Max Kibbee (190) and Regis Jesuit senior Dirk Morley (285) to make the final. Yount projects all six Aurora finalists to lose in the championship match.

The pre-state picks project Aurora to have top-six placers in 10 different brackets with holes coming at 113, 138, 144, 150, 157 and 215. Yount has three Aurora wrestlers placing fourth in their respective brackets in Eaglecrest junior Ethan Diaz (120), Grandview sophomore Charlie Herting (165) and Rangeview senior Greg Brooks (190). For Brooks — Aurora’s lone four-time state qualifier — it would be his third career podium finish at the state tournament. Cherokee Trail senior Ellis Williams is projected to place fifth at 175 pounds and Eaglecrest sophomore Alijah Gabaldon to take sixth at 126.

One match away depending on flow of the tournament are Grandview junior Nehemiah Quintana (126 pounds), Cherokee Trail sophomore Chance Matthews (a returning placer) at 132, Grandview freshman Jonathan Monthes Gonzales at 138, Eaglecrest senior LaDainian Gordon (175) and Grandview senior Cayden Bird — who is back at the state tournament after making it as a freshman and missing the last two seasons — at 285.

There is a family tie to the tournament for Vista PEAK freshman Ian Bacon (4A 113 pounds), as his twin sister, Amelia, qualified for the girls state tournament.

The breakdown of Aurora state qualifiers by year: 13 are seniors, 12 are juniors and there is five sophomores and a four freshmen.

Courtney Oakes is sports Editor and photographer with Sentinel Colorado. A Denver East High School alum. He came to the Sentinel in 2001 and since then has received a number of professional awards from...

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