In their final tournament of the regulation season, the Paonia Eagles scored 174 points to place third at the annual Valley Classic tournament at Center High School. With the state tournament less than three weeks away, Paonia is in third place in Class 2A On the Mat rankings.
Head coach Nate Wiggins said that the Center Duals and Valley Classic tournament give the team an opportunity to see other Class 2A teams ahead of the state meet, among them, No. 1 Rocky Ford, No. 5 Fowler, No. 7 John Mall, and Sargent, Sanford, Rye, and Crowley County.
Paonia advanced nine wrestlers to the championship round. Sackett Chesnik was 4-0 and scored 27 team points to win the 138-pound division. Jaden Miller (182) pinned his first three opponents in 2:37 and won the first-place match by a 4-0 decision over Nucla.
Clay Campbell (145) was seeded fifth and placed third. Campbell won three matches by fall in a combined 1:37, including a 23-second fall over Fowler in the third-place match.
Also placing third were Grey Neal (152), Jesse Burns (160), and Anthony Felice (170), whose 20-4 technical fall over Salida recorded the second most points scored in a single match for the tournament.
Anthony Miller (195) and Levi Peterson (220) both won their fifth-place match by fall.
On Friday, Paonia picked up two dual wins, including a 42-29 win over No. 1-ranked Rocky Ford.
Felice opened the dual at 170 pounds with a fall at 5:09 over Jesse Tapia, ranked sixth at 182 pounds.
At 182, Paonia freshman Anthony Miller won by fall (1:46) over Ezequiel Raso. Jaden Miller followed with a fall (0:30) over Angel Estrada. Wrestling down from 285, where he is ranked second, Levi Peterson picked up the win at 220 pounds over Simon Apodaca.
At 285, Kaden Heiniger lost by fall (1:07) over No. 1 ranked senior Greg Garcia.
Twelfth ranked freshman Reagan Todd lost by a 5-0 decision over fourth-ranked Michael Maldonado of Rocky Ford. At 113, Noel Rocha won by fall (5:21) over Eagle Gunnar Putman.
Paonia lost by forfeit at 120, and a double forfeit occurred at 126. Wrestling up at 132, Zeb Etter lost by a 4-0 decision to Dylan Meill. Chesnik (138) won by fall (0:46) over Jadon Baldonado. At 145, Shane Odom scored six points for Paonia with a fall (2:50) over Layne Grant.
At 152, Neal, ranked third by On the Mat, won by fall over Meloneer Carlos Romo, the 138-pound state runner up currently ranked first in the 145-pound division. Burns (160) lost by a 17-1 technical fall to No. 1-ranked Diego Reyes.
Paonia also defeated Centauri (La Jara), 50-27. Centauri is eighth in Class 3A On the Mat rankings.
In the shortest match of the dual, at 120 pounds, Soul Connolly won by a 14-second fall over Centauri. At 126, Etter won by fall (1:18 ) over Estevan Ponce.
Chesnik won by an 18-2 technical fall over Zach Sandoval. Campbell lost by fall (0:40) to senior defending state champion Brandon Buhr. In the 152 pound match, Centauri's ninth-ranked Brian Shawcroft defeated Neal, 10-3. At 160, Burns won by 2-1 decision over Jayden Gomez.
At 182, Miller won by fall (1:21) over Weston Huffaker; and at 285, Peterson lost by fall (4:50) to Casey Fringer.
Paonia won by forfeit at four weights, and Centauri picked up two wins by forfeit.