Photo by Tamie Meck Eagle Ty Coats crosses over a Merino wrestler on his way to a 57-second pin at the Screaming Eagle tournament. Coats lost to No. 1 seed Wyatt Wade of Dolores to place second. Paonia earned five championships and 270 points to win the annual tournament.The 24th annual Screaming Eagle wrestling tournament was a who's who of top wrestlers from the Western Slope and beyond, all looking for some tough competition as the regional and state tournaments approach. They came from as close as Cedaredge and as far away as Center, Sargent, Ignacio and Custer County.
And if any of those teams came to defeat No. 1-ranked Paonia, they rode home through the rain and snow with a bit of disappointment. Paonia claimed five tournament championships and placed in all but one weight class, earning 270 points for the team title.
Dove Creek placed second with 168.5 points.
Four Paonia wrestlers placed second, including Jorge Quinonez, currently ranked second, who faced No. 1-ranked Tray Sickles of Nucla. The match ended in a 2-2 tie, with Sickles scoring a reversal in first-round overtime for the 4-2 win.
Josh Altman (20-2) was 4-0, defeating fourth-ranked Tristan Pelloni of Meeker by a 13-3 decision for the championship.
Freshman Bo Pipher claimed the first tournament bracket of his high school career, pinning Trent Rose of Olathe in 2:22 for the 126-pound championship.
William Austin claimed the win at 170 pounds, Morgan Rieder won at 182 pounds, and 285 Tony Darling, whose sole loss this season was to a Utah wrestler nicknamed "Huey," pinned his way to the tournament title.
Top-ranked sophomore 120 Jesse Reed met No. 2-ranked Jeremiah Banuelos of Montrose in the championship round. Banuelos, the 2012 state runner-up in class 4A, won by a narrow, 3-2 decision.
"Jesse's been working hard," said coach Andy Pipher of the defending state champion, who missed the entire month of December due to a knee injury. "Sure would like to have seen him win it." The two have gone back and forth in the past, said Pipher. Banuelos is a junior, "and they'll meet again."
Gunner Chesnik had a good day. The sophomore upset No. 2-seeded Jeremiah Moreno of Center, pinning him late in the first round to advance to the championship match. Chesnik lasted three rounds against No. 1-seed Tyler Ebberts of Dove Creek, losing by an 11-7 decision.
Matt Hayden also posted a winning record. Hayden pinned Miguel Perez of Ignacio in 21 seconds to place third.
At 132 pounds, Dylan Stroud was pinned in the first round by Peter Williamson of Cedaredge, then wrestled back to a fourth-place finish.
Fourth-ranked Zach Morgan of Sargent scored a first-round pin over fifth-ranked Joel Simianer to win the 220-pound class.
Zach Milner placed fifth, and Nolan Jones placed sixth.
The only weight class where Paonia didn't place was at 195. Tyler Kendall, ranked third in state, was unable to attend the tournament.
The Eagles dualed to a 53-14 win Friday over Dove Creek. "They're ranked third, we're ranked first," said Pipher. "That let us know where we are. They beat us in three matches, and we'd have liked to have won those three also."
This Thursday, Paonia will dual 4A Rifle at 5 p.m., at the CMU Brownson Arena (prior to the CMU/Grand Canyon University dual at 7 p.m.). Paonia travels to Center this weekend.