CENTENNIAL | Cayden Bird had to wait well over an hour to make his impact on Thursday night’s Centennial League boys wrestling showdown between Grandview and Eaglecrest
With a pin in the first period, the Wolves’ rising senior heavyweight put the exclamation mark on his team’s thrilling 39-32 dual meet victory over the Raptors in a result that essentially locked up the league championship.
On a night that saw a combined 14 wrestlers ranked by On The Mat compete, coach Ryan Budd’s Grandview team won six of the 13 contested matches and benefited from the lone forfeit of the night as it remained unbeaten in the Centennial League and conclude league competition with a Feb. 2 dual with Smoky Hill.
“I was excited to be out there for my team knowing we could get the W,” Bird said. “I was hoping for a pin. I went out there knowing I’m the better wrestling. I’m faster and more physical, so I expected nothing less than a pin.”
Coach Javier Quintana’s Eaglecrest team suffered its only league loss thus far despite winning seven times. The Raptors — who turn right around to wrestle in the Valley Classic on Friday — complete their Centennial League schedule Feb. 2 at Mullen.
While Grandview didn’t have the win advantage, it picked up key points as five of its six victories came with the full award of six points via wins by fall and also added to its total with a forfeit to David McCurdy at 144 pounds. The Wolves also managed to avoid giving up a few points in a few matches, as they were only pinned three times in seven losses.
“It was very intense and we knew coming in that was how it was going to be looking at it on paper,” Budd said. “There were some matchups I thought we would do better in and they were kindof in the same boat, so we kindof traded off in some spots. I thought it was going to come down to the wire and it did.
“All the matches were competitive and it was a great night for wrestling in front of a big crowd.”
All that added up to a thrilling victory in front of a large crowd that hung on every point.
The Raptors built a 10-point lead through four matches as sophomore Blake Saddler picked up an opening win by decision at 106 pounds, while junior Adonias Cantu bumped up to 113 and picked up a major decision over senior Rhett Herman, a returning state qualifier. Junior Ethan Diaz — ranked No. 3 at 120 pounds — pinned No. 17 Donavan Delbridge, a freshman.
Grandview got on the scoreboard with a big win from junior Nehemiah Quintana over Eaglecrest sophomore Alijah Galbadon in an entertaining 126-pound match featuring two wrestlers ranked in the top eight in 5A. Galbadon came in rated seventh and Quintana eighth, but Quintana took the lead in the first period and never let up in an 8-5 win.
That started a chain of 21 consecutive points on the Wolves’ side as freshman standout Gunner Lopez (who recently placed sixth in his weight at the rugged Top of the Rockies tournament) and fellow frosh Jonathan Montes Gonzales earned consecutive wins by fall at 132 and 138 pounds, respectively, while McCurdy received a win by forfeit as an injury prevented Quintana from filling the match.
“The forfeit killed us because that’s a matchup we win most of the time, but our guy got hurt and we had nobody on the depth chart unfortunately; that’s part of sports,” Quintana said. “I think that’s where the dual was won, even though our guys really performed. …Our kids are a little down with the loss, but you can’t be down for long because we’re wrestling again tomorrow (at the Valley Classic at Center H.S.).”
Sophomore Ethan Johnston gave the Raptors a shot of momentum when he earning a pin at 150 pounds, while was piggybacked by junior Gabe Rangel’s decision over junior Preston Baker at 157 to put Eaglecrest in front by a point with six matches remaining.
Grandview sophomore Charlie Herting (who came in with 30 wins to his credit) pinned Eaglecrest junior Thayne Lundy in a match of ranked wrestlers at 165 pounds and 11th-ranked senior LaDainian Gordon looked like he might get a full six points or five for a tech fall for the Raptors at 175, but junior Dylan McMahon held on to give up just four via a major decision to keep it a one-point match with three remaining.
That set up well for the Wolves with senior Maxwell Kibbee (ranked No. 3 at 190) and Bird (ranked No. 10 at 285) in those pivotal matches.
Kibbee did his job with a first-period win by fall.
“That was really fun,” Kibbee said. “I had to watch a lot of matches, but I just wanted to get out there. I know that most of the time my team is counting on me to get six, I just walk out and try to get the pin every single time.”
Eaglecrest junior Dalton Leivian responded with a win by pin at 215 to pull the Raptors within 33-32 and set the stage for the decisive final match.
Bird wasted little time in getting a takedown against Eaglecrest junior Riley Neumeyer and got him on his back near the edge of the ring, but managed to keep him on and eventually put his shoulders to the mat.
The Grandview bench felt it had to wait too long, but the referee finally slapped the mat to give Bird — who jumped up and flexed to his teammates — the win with less than eight seconds left in the period.
“Winning the league is always something we strive for,” Bird said. “We put the hard work in at practices and always go for that goal.”
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
(5) GRANDVIEW 39, (10) EAGLECREST 32
106 pounds: Blake Saddler (Eaglecrest) dec. Hunter Bonin (Grandview), 6-0
113 pounds: Adonias Cantu (Eaglecrest) maj. dec. Rhett Herman (Grandview), 14-4
120 pounds: Ethan Diaz (Eaglecrest) pinned Donavon Delbridge (Grandview), 5:11
126 pounds: Nehemiah Quintana (Grandview) dec. Alijah Galbadon (Eaglecrest), 8-5
132 pounds: Gunner Lopez (Grandview) pinned Oscar Hinojos (Eaglecrest), 3:33
138 pounds: Jonathan Montes Gonzales (Grandview) pinned Daniel Diaz-Sachina (Eaglecrest), 3:33
144 pounds: David McCurdy (Grandview) won by forfeit
150 pounds: Ethan Johnston (Eaglecrest) pinned Josh Gerarde (Grandview), 3:33
157 pounds: Gabe Rangel (Eaglecrest) dec. Preston Baker (Grandview), 10-4
165 pounds: Charlie Herting (Grandview) pinned Thayne Lundy (Eaglecrest), 3:32
175 pounds: LaDainian Gordon (Eaglecrest) maj. dec. Dylan McMahon (Grandview), 15-1
190 pounds: Maxwell Kibbee (Grandview) pinned Marcel Gordon (Eaglecrest), 1:33
215 pounds: Dalton Leivian (Eaglecrest) pinned Marcus Nesbitt (Grandview), 0:33
285 pounds: Cayden Bird (Grandview) pinned Riley Neumeyer (Eaglecrest), 1:52