FREDERICK — If this is February, the Windsor wrestling team is on a roll.
Make that rockin’ and rollin’.
The Wizards, Class 4A two-time defen ding state champions, rolled to the Region 3 title Saturday night at Frederick High School with 284.5 points. Golden finished a distant second with 136 points. Roosevelt was fourth with 125 and Greeley Central eighth (100), Weld Central ninth (89.5), and Northridge 10th (87).
That’s the formative look at the Wizards’ success story.
The inside look featured an aggressive approach with mindset of pinning.
Throw in a newfound surge of pins for the Wizards, and the conclusion is that they’re nowhere ready to surrender their gold trophy and will take 12 wrestlers to this week’s state tournament.
Saturday marked the end of their catch-and-release takedown/escape mode that has served them well this season, and the beginning of a bonus-point focus, ultimately resulting in pins.
The Wizards clinched the team title after Saturday afternoon’s semifinals and consolation bracket matches, leaving the spotlight for regional champions 113-pounder Joel Salomon, 120-pounder Jonathan Lewis, 152-pounder Keenen Lanteri, 160-pounder Vinny Gonzales, 170-pounder Joseph Keller and 220-pounder Jacob Winter.
The march to the top of the podium for the Wizards started with Salomon, who recorded three pins in the tournament, including one in just 1 minute, 37 seconds over Mead’s Sage Budd to run his season record to 48-2.
The Wizards followed suit with six regional champions.
“These guys know that this is the time of the season where you have to peak,” Windsor coach Monte Trusty said. “We have a lot of self belief. They also know they’re going to be for the biggest fight of their life (for another team title), and they love it.
“We’ve talked about the past being history though,” Trusty added. “We know it’s time to crank it up.”
Gonzales was tied at 1-1 with 1:15 left in his match against Erie’s Ladd Bunker, then turned him for a three-point near fall that made the difference in the 8-5 victory.
“He kind of wrestles funky, and that’s the way he’s done it all three times this year that I’ve wrestled him,” Gonzales said. “He’s slippery, and I knew I had to get going.
“Coach Monte (Trusty) told me that I had to go and that I wasn’t pushing the pace, so that got me going,” Martinez added. “We’re wrestling for bonus points now. That’s what’s going to make a huge difference.”
Keenen Lanteri won his 152-pound title match, going from a 4-4 tie in the second period to a pin in 4:00 over Golden’s Devin Rothrock..
“I had a feeling that I’d get ahead of him, and then the pin was there,” Lanteri said. “Pins — that’s how we’re planning on winning.”
Windsor’s win streak in title matches ended at 182 when Cosme Martinez surrendered a takedown to Mead’s Kyle Couch, and then never had much of an opportunity for a solid shot to tie it.
“I didn’t set myself up enough for better opportunities,” Martinez said. “I hate to lose, but I’m not bummed about it. There’s another week.”
At 220 pounds, Windsor’s Jacob Winter got the Wizards back on the pin track when he made the absolute most of the final 22 seconds of the first period.
Winter scored a takedown on the edge of the mat, then sank a half-nelson in and pinned Mead’s Jorge Cortez with 0.1 seconds left in the period.
“Bonus points ... they’re so important,” Winter said. “I’m really ready to go to state and tear it up.”
At heavyweight, Windsor’s Robert Bishop-Cotner fell into a couple near falls against Golden’s Dakota Gulley, trailing 7-0 after the first period.
“Don’t worry about that score right now,” Trusty told Bishop-Cotner in between periods. “We need to score and quit giving up points late in the period. There’s still a lot of wrestling left.”
Bishop-Cotner again struggled late in the period, giving up four points in the final 15 seconds of the second period to trail 12-0 after two.
He persevered to score a third-period takedown, but lost 16-2 to the more physical Gulley.
Bishop-Cotner’s struggles hardly dampened the Wizards’ horde of accomplishments earlier in the day.
“We know that everything starts over (today),” Trusty said. “We know we’re in a slugfest with about 10 different great programs.
“That’s what you want though,” Trusty added. “This is what we’ve worked for, and for most of these guys what they’ve worked a long time for. It’s time to really crank it up now.”