AURORA | For the second straight year, all 11 Aurora programs — Aurora Central, Cherokee Trail, Eaglecrest, Gateway, Grandview, Hinkley, Overland, Rangeview, Regis Jesuit, Smoky Hill and Vista PEAK — will be represented at the 2017 Class 5A/4A state wrestling tournament, set for Feb. 16-18 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Grandview has the largest state contingent with eight state qualifiers, followed by Cherokee Trail (5), Overland (4), Vista PEAK (3), Rangeview (2), Regis Jesuit (2) and Aurora Central, Eaglecrest, Gateway, Hinkley and Smoky Hill with one apiece.
Full Class 5A & 4A state tournament pairings, here
・The first round of the 5A & 4A state tournament begins at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, with matches running until they are completed. Championship quarterfinals take place at 12:45 p.m. Friday and championship semifinals at 7:15 p.m. Placing matches are slated for 2:30 p.m. Saturday and the Parade of Champions preceding the finals is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Consolation matches take place following each championship round Friday and preceding placing matches on Saturday.
・Tim Yount of On The Mat released his predictions for the top six placewinners in each weight class 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 four others one match away from making the medal round depending on the flow of the tournament.
Yount’s projections have three Aurora wrestlers making the finals in Regis Jesuit’s Brandon Minear (160 pounds) and Cherokee Trail’s Zeke Silva (195) and Max Gonzales (220) and he has all three finish as the runner-up of their respective weights. He has Minear losing to Pomona’s Jason Romero in the final, with Silva going down to undefeated and defending state champion Trent Schultz in the title match and Gonzales finishing second to Ponderosa’s Cohl Schultz in the 220-pound final for a second straight season.
The pre-state picks show particular strength at 195 pounds, as after Silva in second, Grandview’s Robert Woods is projected to take third and Overland’s Kaelin Chin sixth. Yount has a total of five Grandview wrestlers slated to place in Woods and Giovani Federico (113) in third, heavyweight Gabriel Baumgartner in fourth, 132-pounder Armando Santillan in fifth and Tyler Ross sixth at 182 pounds. Three Cherokee Trail wrestlers are projected to place, with junior heavyweight Davione Marshall (sixth) expected to join the Cougars’ duo of finalists on the podium. Yount’s picks also have Rangeview senior Deron Solomon — in the state tournament for the first time since his freshman year — placing sixth at 145 pounds.
One match away from making the medal round depending on the flow of the tournament are Overland’s Isaiah Bradley (5A 120) and Sean Kelly (5A 138), Cherokee Trail’s David Rivera (5A 132) and Vista PEAK’s Jayden Smith (4A 182).
Yount projects some tight 5A team standings — after run-away winner Pomona — with Grandview fitting in at No. 8 and Cherokee Trail at No. 11.
・Fourteen of Aurora’s 29 qualifiers made it to the state tournament last season and 16 have wrestled at the Pepsi Center before, as Rangeview senior Deron Solomon is back after making it as a freshman in 2014 and Grandview senior Armando Santillan returns after making it as a sophomore in 2015. Two Aurora qualifiers make their fourth state trips in Cherokee Trail senior Max Gonzales (220 pounds) and Hinkley senior Serj Chavez (138), while Cherokee Trail senior Zeke Silva (195) and Vista PEAK senior Dilan Esparza (113) both are three-time qualifiers and Grandview’s Giovani Federico (113), Armando Santillan (132), Tyler Ross (182), Robert Woods (195) and Gabriel Baumgartner (285), Overland’s Sean Kelly (138) & Kaelin Chin (195), Cherokee Trail’s David Rivera (138), Rangeview’s Deron Solomon (145), Regis Jesuit’s Brandon Minear (160), Aurora Central’s Octavio Lopez (120) and Smoky Hill’s Ryan Campbell (285) each make their second trips. Gonzales and Silva are Aurora’s only returning two state placers as Gonzales finished second at 220 last season and Silva took fourth at 182 pounds.
・Six Aurora wrestlers enter the 5A state tournament with top seeds that come with winning regional championships in Cherokee Trail’s Josh Richardson (160 pounds), Zeke Silva (195) and Max Gonzales (220), Grandview’s Tyler Ross (182) and Robert Woods (195) and Overland’s Sean Kelly (138). Grandview’s Giovani Federico (113 pounds), Armando Santillan (132), Grady Colgan (152) and Gabriel Baumgartner (285), Overland’s Isaiah Bradley (120) and Kaelin Chin (195), Vista PEAK’s Dilan Esparza (4A 113), Cherokee Trail’s David Rivera (138), Regis Jesuit’s Brandon Minear (160) and Smoky Hill’s Ryan Campbell (285) come in as No. 2 seeds as regional runners-up.
・Grandview senior Armando Santillan has wrestled the most matches (55) and recorded the most wins (47) among any Aurora qualifier going into the state tournament. His total has established a Wolves’ program record for victories in a year as he passed the mark of 43 set by Eric Wilson — one of Grandview’s four all-time state champions — in 2008-09. Three wrestlers — Overland senior Sean Kelly, Rangeview senior Deron Solomon and Eaglecrest sophomore Tyler Maccagnan — all can get to the 40-win mark with one victory at state. Every one of Aurora’s state qualifiers have records above .500. While Santillan has the most wins, Cherokee Trail senior Max Gonzales has the fewest losses — 1 — which he suffered in the finals of the Rockwell Rumble in Orem, Utah, in a match he nearly won by fall before losing by pin in the second period.
・For the second straight season, Aurora has the most state qualifiers at 138 pounds with five in all, including Overland senior Sean Kelly, Hinkley senior Serj Chavez, Gateway senior Blake Thomas and sophomores Tyler Maccagnan of Eaglecrest and Dylan Ranieri of Grandview. Three Aurora wrestlers made the 195-pound bracket in Grandview’s Robert Woods, Overland’s Kaelin Chin and Cherokee Trail’s Zeke Silva.
・City wrestlers are involved in 28 first-round matches, which includes just one all-Aurora matchup. In the opening round at 138 pounds, Gateway’s Blake Thomas and Overland’s Sean Kelly — who happen to be good friends — face off for the second time this season as Kelly won a 7-6 decision over Thomas in the semifinals of the Bison Invitational on Dec. 10, 2016. A number of all-Aurora quarterfinal matchups are possible with first round wins — Aurora Central’s Octavio Lopez could face Overland’s Isaiah Bradley at 120 pounds, Grandview’s Dylan Ranieri and Eaglecrest’s Tyler Maccagnan could meet at 138 pounds, Rangeview’s Deron Solomon and Grandview’s Shem Brown are potential opponents at 145 pounds, Cherokee Trail’s Josh Richardson and Regis Jesuit’s Brandon Minear (who have already wrestled twice) could face off at 160 pounds and Overland’s Kaelin Chin and Cherokee Trail’s Zeke Silva could meet at 195 pounds.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel