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Two Cougars advance to state wrestling championships

 
Series: Niwot Wrestling | Story 7

February 19, 2020

Jocelyn Rowley

In his first match since Jan. 11, Niwot's Daniel Torres (220) won in an 11-2 major decision over Jacob Nix of Mountain View at the Class 4A Region 3 tournament at Windsor HS on Feb. 14.

Niwot wrestler Daniel Torres was restless as he watched his lighter teammates take on their first opponents at the Class 4A Region 3 tournament, held at Windsor HS on Feb. 14-15. He was anxiously awaiting a mat assignment-his first since suffering an elbow injury on Jan. 11. The senior was worried that the six-week layoff had cost him too much strength and conditioning, and that his high school career might come to a premature end in the Wizards' gym. But those worries dimmed after an impressive early round victory, and Torres went on to punch his ticket for a return trip to the Pepsi Center and his sport's biggest stage.

"I was surprised to be able to wrestle in general," he said after securing fourth place overall in the 220-pound class and qualifying for the Class 4A state championships, slated for Feb. 20-22. "I had to get in shape and I had to retrain my arm again. I didn't think I was going to make it, but I kept working as hard as I could. I didn't want to stop wrestling."

That hard work was evident throughout the weekend, but especially in Torres' first match against Mountain View's Jacob Nix. Leading 3-0 going into the final period, Torres scored three takedowns to seal an 11-2 major decision, a feat Niwot head coach Bobby Matthews called "impressive."

"For him to come out and wrestle a top quality kid with a good record and wrestle so smart in his first match back was really surprising to me," Matthews said. "It didn't look like he had a lot of rust. He did a good job of keeping himself in the best shape he could without actually wrestling."

Torres did show some signs of rust in the quarterfinals, when he was pinned in just 14 seconds by Michael Serna of Greeley Central, who went on to claim the regional title. That bounced Torres into the consolation semifinals, where he faced Greeley Central's Coby Mendoza with the final state qualifying berth on the line. The match was scoreless until the second period, when Torres engineered an escape. He finally managed to score a takedown on "top-heavy" Mendoza with 0:12 left in the third, and held on for a narrow 3-2 decision.

"I'm used to them trying to shoot more and not put up so much resistance up top," he said afterwards. "That made it a little difficult, because I don't go against as many people who wrestle that style. But I was able to beat him."

With the bid to state secure, Torres forfeited his third-place match out of concern for the newly healed elbow. He said it felt fine during his matches, but wants to be sure it's in the best possible condition before testing it against the state's top wrestlers.

Torres will be joined at the Pepsi Center by close friend and longtime teammate Jovani Lopez (285), who was runner-up in his bracket to earn a second straight state bid. It was a bittersweet weekend for Lopez, who was happy to be headed back to the championships for Niwot, but "mad" about how his regional championship match against Skyline's Oscar Arandy ended.

"I knew I was down one, but I was waiting for the perfect time, because I still had a minute left," the senior said, describing the final period in his 3-2 loss. "But Oscar was just backing up, trying to not let me take him down-because he knows I can take him down. But the refs didn't see that and didn't call stalling."

In the earlier rounds, Lopez won by decision over Alexis Rosa of Northridge (6-3) and Greeley Central's Victor Martinez (4-1), who was the sixth-ranked Class 4A heavyweight headed into the regional tournament. (Lopez was seventh.) Lopez ended the regular season with a 32-7 record, and heads into state with a good chance to place in a "very stacked" bracket, according to Matthews.

"He has a great shot," the coach said. "He's going to have to wrestle well, but if he just stays consistent with what he's done all year, I think he'll be on the podium."

In fact, Matthews is confident both Lopez and Torres will go deeper in their brackets than they did in 2019, when the shock and awe of the large crowds and elite competition at Pepsi Center proved overwhelming to the first-timers.

"Their work ethic at practice was times 10 this year," he said. "Because they know what it takes to get to state, and they know just going there isn't fun. They want to place, and you saw that in their hard work, and I think that goes a long way."

The two state qualifiers capped off what Matthews called a "pretty good" regional tournament for the team. Six Niwot wrestlers-including seniors Max Pechersewski (120), Bryan Martinez (145), and Keith Hemenway (152)-won an early round match to advance to the second day of competition, their largest contingent in years. The Cougars scored 40 points to finish 11th out of 14 in the team standings, up from 29 points at the 2019 regional.

Three underclassmen -Angel Aldama (106), Tharind Bopearachchigedon (113), and Satchel Hart (126)-also participated in the regular season's final competition, which Matthews said bodes well for the future of the program.

"Just seeing what the regionals are all about is pretty important. You've been here, so you know what to expect, you know how to prepare, you know what to do throughout the season to get yourself to this point."

The Class 4A state wrestling championships kick-off at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20, with second round action starting on Friday, Feb. 21 at 12:45 p.m.

Class 4A Region 3 Tournament, Windsor HS, Feb. 14-15

Team Scores - Windsor 321.0, Thompson Valley 213.0, Coronado 156.0, Greeley Central 143.0, Skyline 138.0, Frederick 114.0, Greeley West 95.0, Mead 93.0, Mountain View 85.5, Northridge 44.0, Niwot 40.0, Wheat Ridge 36.0, Golden 27.0, Silver Creek 13.0

106 - Cons. Round 3 – Anthony Quintana (Golden) over Angel Aldama (Fall 2:44)

Jocelyn Rowley

Niwot senior Jovani Lopez (285) won two matches at the Class 4A Region 3 tournament before falling by a 3-2 decision in the championship finals.

113 - Cons. Round 2 – - Fabian Hernandez (Greeley Central) over Tharind Bopearachchigedon (MD 10-2)

120 - Cons. Round 3 – - Julian Sepeda (Greeley Central) over Max Pecherzewski (Fall 0:54)

126 - Cons. Round 2 –Max Cross (Golden) over Satchel Hart (Fall 0:59)

138 - Cons. Round 1 – Aidan Cody-Belcher (Greeley West) over Josh Armas (Fall 3:55)

145 - Cons. Round 3 – Willie Gould (Golden) over Bryan Martinez (Fall 2:53)

152 - Cons. Round 3 – Jaden Thomas (Windsor) over Keith Hemenway (MD 9-1)

220 - 3rd Place – Caleb Burton (Thompson Valley) over Daniel Torres (M. For.)

285 - Championship - Oscar Aranday (Skyline) over Jovani Lopez (Dec 3-2)

 

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