The first day of the Class 5A Region 1 wrestling tournament held few surprises, with Pine Creek atop the leaderboard with nine wrestlers advancing to the semifinals.
The Eagles, ranked seventh in Tim Yount’s On The Mat Rankings, lead No. 6 Arvada West, 95.5-78, followed by No. 8 Mountain Range with 70. Fountain-Fort Carson is fifth, host Doherty sixth, Palmer is ninth, Liberty 11th and Rampart 15th.
As has been the case all season, the Eagles were led by seniors Geordan Martinez (138-pounds, ranked No. 1), Derrick Ortiz (145, No. 6) and Alex Smith (152, No. 2). But it was the unheralded lower weights setting the pace for the Eagles in the first two rounds.
Sophomore Tyrell Williams (106) started it with a first-round pin and a 12-2 major decision. Junior Eric Hildenbrandt overcame a mistake in his second-round 113 match, giving up an escape with 3 seconds left to allow the match to go to overtime before securing a 9-7 decision.
“Why did I let him up with three seconds left?” Hildenbrandt asked afterward. “You’ve got to wrestle smarter than that. One of the most important matches of the year and you’ve just got to keep fighting until the end.”
In the 126 bracket, junior Chase Frye drew No. 12 Brandon Poulus of Liberty and came away with an 11-7 decision. It was an upset on paper, but not in Frye’s mind.
“Wrestling against guys like Geo and Derrick (in practice), when you take the mat against anyone else it’s easy to think ‘this guy can’t be better than Geo,’” Frye said. “If I can score on him I can score on this guy.”
The completion will get even tougher today, but the Eagles are poised for the strongest finish of the season.
Fountain-Fort Carson and Doherty each advanced five to the semifinals. Sophomores Downey Wood and Tracey Hancock were the most dominant of the Trojans. The fourth-ranked Wood (132) sored a 16-2 major decision followed by a 17-1 technical fall while No. 2 Hancock recorded a 57-second pin in his second-round match at 195.
“It’s just having that experience,” said Wood, who finished fifth at regionals a year ago. “Last year there were more nerves than this year."
Sophomore Logan Hammarmeister, despite battling a cold and cough, recorded two pins at 120, earning the Spartans valuable bonus points.
“We’ve got a lot of people that can make it to state,” Hammarmeister said. “Some people just look over us like we’re nothing, but truth is, we’re a hard-fighting team."
Palmer advanced three, while Rampart senior Clark Jones is still alive in his bracket. The top four finishers in each weight class will qualify for the state tournament.