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Wrestling: Niwot’s State hopes dashed at Regionals


February 16, 2018

Photo by Jocelyn Rowley Kevin Johnson of Mitchell takes a pause during his match against Brandon Barton at the Class 4A Region 4 tournament at Golden HS on Feb. 10.

Niwot wrestling called it a season at the Class 4A Regional 4 tournament at Golden High School last weekend, after none of its wrestlers qualified to compete at the upcoming state meet. Max Pechersewski (106), Brandon Barton (138), and Keith Hemenway (152) all won consolation round matches, but otherwise the Cougars were shut out of the scoring and finished last in the team standings, with just 10 points.

Niwot head coach Bobby Matthews had tempered expectations for his team going into the weekend. By a quirk of scheduling, many of Niwot’s first round matches were against wrestlers from Windsor, which went on to claim the Region 4 title with 285 team points, and qualified 12 wrestlers for next weekend’s state tournament. Andy Greve (113), Matt Bitterman (126), David Koon (145), Nathan Hemenway (170), and Julian Molina (182) all dropped first round matches to a Windsor opponent.

“We don’t have kids that have grown up wrestling,” Matthews said. “These kids are coming into it as high schoolers, and they’re going up against some of the best teams in the state.”

For Barton, one of three Niwot seniors competing in his final career tournament, the weekend was “bittersweet.” When he joined the wrestling squad as a sophomore, he was mostly interested in improving his football skills. But two years of steady improvement on the mat had him looking for a State cut to close out his senior year.

“Last year, I placed at Regionals, and that let me know that I could be successful at this sport,” Barton said. “So I did a lot of work in the off-season, went to a couple of camps, went to a lot of club practices. That helped a lot.”

Barton was one of the few bright spots on the Niwot Football team this year, and came into the wrestling season with high expectations. After a strong start, he aggravated a hamstring injury in January that limited his matches down the stretch. He received a bye in the first round at Regionals, but lost by major decision to Mitchell’s Kevin Johnson in the quarterfinal round. He then pinned Houston Hood of Thomas Jefferson in his first consolation match, only to lose by another major decision in the next round, to Widefield’s JoQuez Addision. He finished the year with a team-best 21-11 overall record.

Barton is looking forward to continuing his wrestling career next year at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, where he plans to study business and nutrition. He has no plans to play football, although he feels this wrestling success has been hand-in-hand with football success.

“I played football my sophomore year and I was on the C-team,” Barton said. “I wrestled after that, and came back in my junior year and started on varsity defense. I contribute all of that to wrestling.”

Despite the disappointing showing at Regionals, Matthews is optimistic about the future of Niwot wrestling, and knows that experience is the only cure for inexperience.

“They’re taking their lumps, but they keep coming back,” Matthews said. “We’re predominantly sophomores, so we’re only going to get stronger.”

Class 4A Region 4 Tournament, Golden HS, Feb. 9-10

1. Windsor 285.5 2. Mesa Ridge 185 3. Discovery Canyon 149.5 4. Widefield 149 5. Pine Creek 131.5 6. Lewis Palmer 117 7. Valor Christian 106 8. Mitchell 88 9. Thomas Jefferson 82 10. Evergreen 58 11. Wheat Ridge 47 12. Golden 26 13. Sierra 17.5 14. Niwot 10

Niwot Results

106 — Cons. Round 3 – Caleb Davis (Mesa Ridge) by dec. over Max Pecherzewski (14-8)

113 — Cons. Round 2 – Isaac McKinney (Mesa Ridge) by fall over Andy Greve (2:54)

126 — Cons. Round 2 – Kaleb Duke (Lewis Palmer) by fall over Matt Bitterman (4:06)

132 — Cons. Round 2 – Landon Suter (Pine Creek) by fall over Colton Gruszczynski (1:23)

138 — Cons. Round 3 - JoQuez Addison (Widefield) by major decision over Brandon Barton (14-3)

145 — Cons. Round 2 - Draygan Colonese (Pine Creek) tech fall over David Koon (TF-1.5 1:59 (16-0)

Photo by Jocelyn Rowley Colton Gruszczynski lifts opponent Noah Henderson of Evergreen during their first round match in the Regional tournament.

152 — Cons. Round 3 - Kody Scholl (Widefield) by fall over Keith Hemenway (1:47)

160 — Cons. Round 2 - Wheat Ridge by fall over Long Pham (1:42)

170 — Cons. Round 2 - Kenneth Guinn (Mesa Ridge) tie breaker - 1 over Nathan Hemenway (TB-1 4-3)

182 — Cons. Round 2 - Ahmed Khattab (Thomas Jefferson) by fall over Julian Molina (0:37)

195 — Cons. Round 2 - Giovanni Benedetto (Lewis Palmer) by decision over Daniel Torres (4-1)


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