In its 19th year, the Colorado Springs Metro Wrestling Championships will see a change of scenery as 100-plus registered wrestlers from the Colorado Springs area will head to Coronado for the first time in the tournament’s history.
The Cougars will host the event for the first time as senior KJ Kearns seeks his third metro title, entering the tournament as the No. 2 Class 4A wrestler at 160 pounds. Coronado junior Angel Flores also returns as a reigning COS Metro champion at 126.
For the last 18 years Doherty has played host to the tournament, but with an extensive construction project, which requires the district to tear up and rebuild most of the athletic facilities, Coronado took over as the host school.
According to a release sent by USA Wrestling, which organized the Colorado High School Activities Association event, 23 area schools are set to compete this weekend. Those teams are Air Academy, Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs Christian, Coronado, Discovery Canyon, Doherty, Falcon, Fountain-Fort Carson, Harrison, James Irwin, Lewis-Palmer, Liberty, Mesa Ridge, Mitchell, Palmer, Palmer Ridge, Peyton, Pine Creek, Rampart, Sand Creek, Sierra, Vista Ridge and Widefield.
Last year’s Metro finals featured four of the area’s five eventual state champions, two of which will return to the mat in 2019. Discovery Canyon’s Patrick Allis is the reigning 120 COS Metro champion and 4A state champion. TCA’s Nathan Johns settled for silver at the Metro championships last year, but claimed the 2018 3A 182-pound championship a month later. Air Academy’s Jason Hanenberg and Mesa Ridge’s Elijah Valdez, both 2018 graduates, were also Metro and state champions last year.
Allis is a three-time Metro champion and is looking to become only the second four-time champion in the event’s history. Allis is the No. 2 Class 4A wrestler at 126 pounds.
He is one of the two returning champions for Discovery Canyon, which placed fourth at last year’s Metro tournament and is No. 9 in Colorado Class 4A. Sophomore Jett Strickenberger won the 106 title Metro title in 2018 and returns at 113 pounds. Strickenberger is ranked No. 1 in Class 4A.
Mesa Ridge enters the tournament as the defending team champion, but graduated its two finalists from a year ago.
Doherty placed second in 2018, followed by Cheyenne Mountain. Kevin Hooks is the Indians’ lone finalist to return to the tournament this year. He placed second at 152 at last year’s Metro and is ranked No. 3 at 145. He is one of 11 Cheyenne Mountain wrestlers to be ranked in the top 14 of their 4A weight classes.