Velasquez, Stinson exit Denver on top
Written by: Joel Priest
It was Aaron Velasquez again.
But at the 2012 state wrestling championship in Denver, A.V. also stood for “AVoided.” As in Alamosa senior Dakoda Curtis’ deferral to a teammate in 2011-12, and AVersion to pursue a finals rematch with Velasquez.
And last Saturday in Denver, Curtis got what his Bayfield/Intermountain League rival denied him last February—the CHSAA Class 3A 152-pound title—by beating another IML’er, Centauri’s Micah Keys, 11 to 3. Some 15 minutes later, Curtis looked all the more wise for choosing not to step up a weight.
For there was absolutely, no way Velasquez was going to lose to Alamosa’s Brandon Bertsch.
Granted, Bertsch had dealt the now 160-pound Wolverine both his losses headed into the 2012 Colorado State Wrestling Championships—including the previous weekend’s regional finale at Pueblo’s Dolores Huerta Prep High—but there was just too much more at stake for the BHS senior.
One, there was the chance to go back-to-back before the massive crowd inside Pepsi Center. Two, an opportunity to do so against another of the mighty Mean Moose (whose 245.5 team points at DHPH routed runners-up Centauri by 74.5 and third-place Bayfield by 79.5). And three, a shot at earning mentor Herb Stinson—architect of the 1990’s Aztec [N.M.] Tigers dynasty—one last individual championship, against fellow mastermind Gary Ramstetter in the opposite chairs set on the La Junta Tigers’ mat.
Consider that done, done, and stick-a-fork-in-because-it’s-done done.
Concluding the team’s otherwise-rough showing at the tournament with a hearty embrace of his coach, after comparatively little celebrating over his dejected opponent, Velasquez became Bayfield’s second two-time king (joining assistant Marshall Hahn, 1994 and ’97) by pinning Bertsch 54 seconds into the third period.
And reminding himself that one cannot spell ‘avenged’ without…A.V.
BHS’ only top-four ranked wrestler at any weight going in, Velasquez’s title run began with a technical-fall rout—achieved in an elapsed 3:01—of LJHS junior Taylor Maik. A 9-2 decision over Strasburg senior Jordan Ross—the second-winningest among the qualifying 160’s—followed, as did a semifinal pin of IML familiar Austin Vance of Monte Vista, recorded at 1:18 of the second.
To face Velasquez, Bertsch (34-10 final record) had posted two sub-minute pins and then a gut-wrenching 8-6 overtime win over The Classical Academy [Colorado Springs] senior Zach Dillon—a 160’s-best 44 wins to his name going into the match—in the other semi.
Velasquez finished the season 27-2, his 152/160 repeat rampage 67-2, and his career 129-17.
ADDITIONALLY: The only other Wolverine to reach Day 3 of the Championships was junior heavyweight Matt Eckstein, who finished a vastly-improved season one win shy of the medal round. Eckstein scored a pin in 87 seconds over Platte Canyon senior Dustin Woodward, but was then stuck 19 ticks into the second period by Mead senior Nick Testroet.
With father, mother, and older brother watching, Eckstein (BHS’ only regional champ in Pueblo) responded with a pin of Hotchkiss junior Zack Taylor in an elapsed 2:34 late on Day 2, setting up a meeting with Eaton senior Holden Rexius on Saturday morning.
Neither giant—though Eckstein owned the height advantage, as he often does, by nearly a foot—managed much, but Rexius pulled out a 3-2 win and ended Eckstein’s year at a strong 26-9.
At 170, junior Jon Roberts (19-12) was demoted immediately by Estes Park junior Nate DeWitt by a pin then eliminated 7-0 by Gunnison’s Jesse Duft.
In his only year at BHS after transferring from 4A Montrose, senior Justin Briskey (21-10) fell by pin on day 2, then booked a pin on Day 2 before being ousted by Salida’s Thane Smith in 1:37.
In a strong year for the Wolverines’ upper-weight grapplers, junior T.J. Pazell—a ‘backdoor’ qualifier, via a disqualification, from regionals—made the field at 195 pounds, but fell by 2 pins ending his abbreviated campaign at 5-9.
At at 138 pounds, junior Joe Zink finished the season 15-12 after being first pinned by Jefferson senior Donovan Nichols 1:26 into the second period, and then by Olathe’s Troy Rose 1:26 into the first.
Bayfield finished the tournament tied for 20th with The Classical Academy from Colorado Springs. Intermountain League champs Alamosa beat Olathe 146.5 to 121.5 for the team title.
FINAL STANDINGS (38 teams scoring): 1.Alamosa 146.5, 2.Olathe 121.5, 3.Valley [Gilcrest] 78.5, 4.Centauri 77, 5.Lamar 76.5, 6.Highland [Ault] 75, 7.Eaton 72.5, 8.Bennett 69, 9.Sheridan [Denver] 64, T-10.Brush/Holy Family [Broomfield] 60, 12.Buena Vista 58… 18.Hotchkiss 46, 19.Salida 45, T-20.The Classical Academy/BAYFIELD 39.5, T-22.Strasburg/Middle Park [Granby] 38, 24.Grand Valley [Parachute] 32… 36.Ellicott 4.5, 37.Vista Peak [Aurora] 3, 38.University 2.