High school wrestling fans, it has arrived.
This year's Colorado High School Activities Association state wrestling tournament starts Thursday. It ends with championship matches Saturday evening. In between, about 120 wrestlers from the Pikes Peak region will be competing.
Of the four area wrestlers who captured state glory last year, only one returns — Woodland Park's Brady Hankin. The sophomore is a favorite to capture the 120-pound title in Class 3A, considering he's suffered just one loss so far and seeded first in his bracket.
Mesa Ridge boasts the most state qualifiers in the area, with 11. Cheyenne Mountain is not far behind with 10; the Indians' sixth-place showing in 4A last year was the highest of all area teams, thanks in part to then-freshman Nico Gagliardi settling with a runner-up finish at 195.
Just like years past, the state tournament will be held at the Pepsi Center in Denver. It kicks off with 2A/3A preliminaries at 2 p.m. Thursday, followed by 4A/5A prelims at 6 p.m. The meet continues Friday with 2A/3A quarterfinals at 9 a.m., followed by the higher classifications' quarterfinals.
Semifinals begin 6:45 p.m. Friday.
The final consolation matches — including for third and fifth places — start 10 a.m. Saturday. Championship matches are at 6:30 p.m., with doors opening an hour prior.
Below are some of the area wrestlers to watch:
113: Fountain-Fort Carson senior Cole Smith boasts a 35-9 record after winning the Region 4 title. The top seed, Horizon senior Alec Beltran, is 36-3 and finished fourth in the bracket last year.
145: Pine Creek senior Roman Brayden is coming off a Region 3 title run, while Rampart senior Benjamin Bancroft enters the state tournament with a 39-3 record. Bancroft took third in the Region 4 tournament. Regis Jesuit's Antonio Segura is the bracket's top seed, thanks in part to winning the Region 4 title.
160: Pine Creek junior Jace Graves is looking for some redemption after he finished second at the Region 3 tournament. He is in a competitive field. Pomona junior Gage Bernall (36-5) is the top seed who advanced to the 152 semifinals last season.
170: Doherty senior Tyson Beauperthuy is the favorite to win. He boasts a 36-0 record and is coming off a dominant Region 2 performance with two wins and a major decision in the final. One of his main competitors is Pine Creek's Draygan Colonese, a junior who owns a 38-4 record and a Region 3 championship.
195: Doherty's Jordan Wagoner (19-9) finished second at the Region 2 tournament. Rocky Mountain's Alec Hargreaves is the top-ranked wrestler at 36-2.
220: Rampart junior Dalton Slaughter enters with a 32-7 record and a Region 4 title. Cherokee Trail's Sam Hart is the top seed, thanks to his 34-0 record. He also finished as the state runner-up last season in the weight class.
106: Lewis-Palmer freshman Isiah Blackmon is the bracket's second seed, thanks to his 33-3 record and a Region 4 title. He had a stellar performance in regionals, with three pins — including one in the championship match over Mesa Ridge's Mickail Skeldum. Loveland's Kobi Johnson (32-5) is the top-ranked wrestler in the bracket.
113: Lewis-Palmer senior Skyler Hunt (34-6) took second at Region 4 tournament. He placed sixth at state last season. Pueblo Centennial's Dominick Castro holds the top seed with a 24-3 record.
126: Coronado's Angel Flores is ranked first at 37-1. He started the season at 138 before dropping down two weight classes to increase his chance of finishing his high school career with a gold medal. Earlier this season, he captured his third straight Colorado Springs Metro title. He's also the Region 3 champion. Other contenders are Cheyenne Mountain's Chase Johnson (26-14) and Discovery Canyon's Dominic Hargrove (28-5), who both won regional titles.
132: Mesa Ridge's Landon Beeson owns a 30-8 record and is coming off a Region 4 title run. The bracket's top wrestler, Dominick Serrano of Windsor, has proven to be hard to beat with his 39-0 record. The senior is aiming to be a rare four-time state winner.
138: Lewis-Palmer senior Cole Stephenson enters with a 24-3 record after he won the Region 4 title. The top seed is Windsor's Vance Vombaur, who has suffered just two losses this season.
145: Air Academy junior Bailey Badwound (23-7) looks to improve from his fourth-place finish in last season's state tournament. He captured the Region 4 title after beating Vista Ridge's Jaime Snyder. The bracket's top seed, Darren Green of Broomfield, is 43-4.
160: Discovery Canyon's Tanner Sukle enters the tournament with a 20-10 record and a Region 4 title. Windsor's Cody Eaton (30-3) holds the top spot in the class.
170: Mesa Ridge's Kenneth Guinn (30-13) beat Discovery Canyon's Andrew Keegan (21-10) to win the Region 4 title. Windsor's Tristian Perez owns the No. 1 seed, thanks to his 24-8 record.
182: Air Academy senior Kalman Adams is the Region 4 champion and owns a 28-11 record. Windsor's Isaiah Salazar is the wrestler to beat in this bracket, highlighted by his 33-0 record. Just like his teammate Dominick Serrano, he's looking for his fourth state title.
195: Cheyenne Mountain sophomore Nico Gagliardi is looking for redemption. He lost in last year's 195 state final. This time, he's the top seed and owns a 35-4 record. He's a coming off a Region 1 championship run. Another contender is Coronado's Ben Tonnessen (34-6), who won the Region 3 title.
220: Mesa Ridge senior Jared Volcic has the best shot to win the state title, considering he's the top-seeded wrestler at 36-1. Last week, he won the Region 4 title to help his Grizzlies to their first regional team championship.
120: Woodland Park sophomore Brady Hankin is looking to repeat as a state champion. He won it last year at 106. This season, he's been dominant again with a 38-1 record. Pagosa Springs' Erik Wyman is on the other side of bracket with a 41-5 record.
126: Florence senior Johnny Masopust is looking to end his prep career with a state title. He has a good shot. He boasts a 41-1 record. Fort Lupton's Jacob Duran (32-1) boasts the top seed.
145: Colorado Springs Christian School's Jake Hamilton is in good position to win it all in his weight class. He owns a 24-0 record after winning a regional title. Jefferson's Zander Condit is on the other side of the bracket at 33-5.
182: James Irwin's Jake Hustoles looks to end an impressive sophomore season in style. He owns a 36-2 record after winning a regional title. Glenwood Springs' Amos Wilson looks to be the main competition, thanks to his 36-4 record.
220: James Irwin junior Jimmy Hustoles won a regional title and owns a 40-3 record. Sterling's Drew Book has the top seed, thanks to a 33-4 record.
138: Peyton junior Clint Brown has a good chance to improve his fifth-place state tournament performance last season. This time, he owns a 35-1 record. Byers' Wyatt Yapouijan is the top seed at 37-4.