Ricky Bobby once taught us that if you’re not first, you’re last.
The Windsor wrestling team certainly didn’t feel that way Saturday.
The Wizards took second place at the Class 4A Region 3 tournament at Greeley Central High School with 229 points, qualifying eight wrestlers for the state tournament next weekend.
Thompson Valley captured the region title with 258 points. Greeley Central finished fifth with 127, Weld Central came in eighth with 115, Northridge claimed ninth with 85 and Roosevelt followed in 10th with 74.5.
Eight wrestlers aren’t the most Windsor has taken to the Pepsi Center, but Wizards coach Monte Trusty isn’t worried about that.
“Numbers don’t mean anything,” he said. “It’s great to have numbers, no doubt about it, at state, but we’ve won state with eight guys and we’ve taken third with 12 guys. We’ll have to do it on quality this year.”
The Wizards landed seven wrestlers in championship matches and five left the mat as region champions. Northridge had two wrestlers in the finals and Weld Central, Roosevelt and Greeley Central each had one.
It was even sweeter for two Wizards, who became first-time region champions.
Junior Josh Villa (40-6), 113 pounds, came out with energy on the mat and kept it the whole time. He scored his first points with a takedown with 3 seconds left in the first period. After Thompson Valley’s Vladyslav Kazakov (32-9) escaped early in the second, Villa kept control and scored another takedown and a near fall to win the match 7-1.
“I’ve wrestled (Kazakov) before in the past and I kinda knew what to expect, but I’ve always wrestled with a lot of energy in every one of my matches,” Villa said. “That’s just my personality — I’m always filled with energy. I was just really pumped ‘cause I’ve never been in the finals for regionals before.”
Senior 182-pounder Brandon Brauser (35-7) also won his first regional title with a tough 4-3 victory against Thompson Valley’s David Eusea (37-8).
“When we started, I was unsure about it but then I just kept thinking that I really wanted to win this ‘cause last year I got third,” Brauser said. “This year I just wanted to win it at regionals. … It’s just that I wanted to win really bad. That’s all that went through my head.”
Weld Central had a regional champ at 126, but it wasn’t sophomore Dalton Robertson’s (38-4) first time winning the title. However, he thinks his 6-2 win against Thompson Valley’s Collin Williams (20-5) was just a warm-up for state.
“He’s tough, he’s strong and he’s a very difficult wrestler,” Robertson said. “I probably will meet him again at state so I don’t feel like it’s practice — I feel like it (was) the state championship finals right there ‘cause I have a feeling that me and him both will make it there.”
At 120, Jonathan Lewis (37-2) pinned Northridge’s Juan Lopez in 1 minute, 54 seconds for his third regional title. His teammates 152-pounder Kennen Lanteri (43-3) and 170-pounder Joe Keller (40-5) also grabbed titles for Windsor.
Lanteri faced Longmont’s Ivan Wolf (39-5), who scored the first point with an escape in the second period. But, that would be all the points Wolf scored as Lanteri used a takedown and near fall followed by an escape in the third from the down position to seal the victory 6-1.
“Even though I didn’t get the pin, we went back up on our feet and I got some good experience just on the feet with that kid,” Lanteri said. “So, I mean, maybe next time that is what could win the match for me.”
Keller found himself in a tight battle with Thompson Valley’s Lucas Chieppo (30-13), with neither scoring points in the first period. From the down position, Chieppo escaped with 1:01 remaining in the second. About 40 seconds later, Keller scored a takedown but Chieppo made a quick move and tossed Keller to the mat for a 3-2 advantage.
Keller chose the down position to start the third period and tied the match with an escape with 1:26 left. Seven seconds later, he took down Chieppo and Chieppo escaped with 1:10 remaining. Keller held off Chieppo to scored a 5-4 win.
“I feel like I was gonna come out on top beforehand and I did because … I came out prepared,” Keller said. “I just have to tell myself, ‘There’s no way this guy can beat me.’ I just have to tell myself that or else I won’t wrestle as well as I usually do.”
Trusty said taking home a state title is all Windsor has been thinking about.
“This kind of format is pretty difficult with the depth of that team, but next week when we have help from other programs, it’ll be a good situation,” Trusty said.
Lewis said he thinks the Wizards have a good shot.
“I think we can take it all home if we really apply ourselves and wrestle smart, but it’s gonna be tough,” Lewis said.
Team Scores — Thompson Valley 258, Windsor 229, Longmont 136.5, Berthoud 129.5, Greeley Central 127, Mountain View 123.5, Fort Morgan 115.5, Weld Central 115, Northridge 85, Roosevelt 74.5, Silver Creek 71.5, Denver North 27.5, Skyline 24, Denver South 18, Frederick 12.5, Englewood 11, Skyview 3.
106 pounds — Morgan Fogg (17-4), TV, pinned Sam Zdenek (30-12), Wind., 3:18; 113 — Josh Villa (40-6), Wind., dec. Vladyslav Kazakov (32-9), TV, 7-1; 120 — Jonathan Lewis (37-2), Wind., pinned Juan Lopez (27-12), N, 1:54; 126 — Dalton Robertson (38-4), WC, dec. Collin Williams (20-5), TV, 6-2; 132 — Matt Berg (20-3), TV, dec. Jacob Meismer (35-9), Wind., 5-4; 138 — Jimmy Fate (46-2), B, pinned Dustin Hayden (33-13), R, 1:04; 145 — Parker Simington (41-3), TV, tech. fall Matt Combs (41-6), MV, 15-0; 152 — Kennen Lanteri (43-3), Wind., dec. Ivan Wolf (39-5), L, 6-1; 160 — Chad Ellis (39-5), B, pinned Drake Greeott (34-11), L, 1:29; 170 — Joe Keller (40-5), Wind., dec. Lucas Chieppo (30-13), TV, 5-4; 182 — Brandon Brauser (35-7), Wind., dec. David Eusea (37-8), TV, 4-3; 195 — Jaime Ramos Vega (38-4), L, pinned Dillon Dreher (32-10), N, 5:02; 220 — Toby McBride (37-4), FM, dec. Mitch Webster (23-5), SC, 10-3; 285 — Jesus Ibarra (22-11), FM, pinned Jorge Guerra-Munoz (36-9), GC, 4:15.