S-CL wrestlers have high expectations for this season
PUEBLO - Historically, South-Central League wrestling teams have been some of the best in the state. Since 1988, Alamosa (seven), South (three) Canon City (one) and Central (one) have combined to win 12 state championships.
Now, these four squads, plus the remaining S-CL teams in Pueblo West, Centennial, East and Pueblo County, are all set to begin the 2009-10 season today.
Not surprisingly, the S-CL received plenty of respect in the preseason On the Mat rankings. Central, Alamosa and South are ranked No. 7, 8 and 9, respectively, in Class 4A.
"This season, the S-CL is going to give a lot of young kids the opportunity to step up and prove themselves," said Tim Yount, a prep wrestling expert who publishes On The Mat. "This is the youngest group of wrestlers I've seen in the S-CL in a long time, but they have a chance to be very good."
Efrain Tapia, who is in his second season guiding Central, is keeping his team's ranking in perspective.
"I think it's pretty good that we're ranked, and it's a good confidence boost for us," Tapia said. "But we have to go out and earn our ranking and I want us to use the ranking as motivation to get better."
The Wildcats have Alex Baca back to lead the way. The junior, who won state at 103 pounds last February, is the S-CL's only returning state champ. But Baca, who had a perfect 29-0 record a year ago, is sitting out the first week of this season for disciplinary reasons.
Baca, top-ranked at 112 pounds, is joined this season by his brother, Jeremy, and Sonny Espinoza --- two highly touted freshmen. Jeremy Baca is ranked No. 2 at 103 pounds and Espinoza is No. 8 at 119s.
Alamosa counters with junior Michael Walsh, who is ranked No. 2 at 130 pounds and freshman Kole Kelly, who is ranked No. 5 at 103s.
South, meanwhile, has senior heavyweight Chris Maynes, who is ranked second, and junior Tim Urenda (112) and senior Vinnie Sanchez (125), who are ranked No. 3 and No. 4. Urenda is a two-time state qualifier while Sanchez has placed fifth, second and fourth at state.
"We won the S-CL and regional titles last year and we would definitely like to accomplish those goals again," South coach Jerry Sisneros said. "I don't know how we will do at the state level. We will just have to see what happens."
The Class 4A Region 4 tournament is Feb. 12-13 and it returns to the Colorado State Fair Events Center after being held last year at Widefield High School.
Duff Seaney is back at the helm of Canon City and the veteran coach has a youthful squad this season. Senior Nolan Kessler, however, is definitely in the state mix at 140 or 145 pounds.
"I think Central has the best tournament team in the S-CL, but Alamosa, South and us should have good dual teams," Seaney said.
Pueblo West also could surprise some teams, thanks to its solid core of competitors. Marc Guerrero is ranked No. 4 at 152 pounds and Justin LaBorde is No. 8 at 215 pounds.
"Overall, I think this is going to be as close a race as there has ever been in the S-CL," West coach David Falls said. "South probably has my vote to win the S-CL just based on what they have throughout their lineup. I think it's just going to come down to who is the most resilient and can avoid injuries and illnesses."
Centennial has seniors Abrum Griego and Todd Richardson back. Griego is a two-time state qualifier who placed sixth at 112 pounds as a sophomore. Richardson was fourth at 103 pounds while competing for Dolores Huerta as a sophomore.
Pueblo County has a new head coach in Eddie Soto. Soto, who was an assistant coach at Central and Pueblo County the past five years, is a 1999 graduate of La Junta High School.
The Hornets' Joey Costanza (135 pounds) is ranked No. 3 and they also have seniors Greg Ross (130) and Desmond Hernandez (171) in their room.
East counters with junior heavyweight Patrick Smith, who is ranked No. 5, and sophomore Corey Laughlin also is in the state discussion at 152 pounds.
In Class 3A, Dolores Huerta will once again be vying for honors.
The Scorpions are entering their second year competing in the Tri-Peaks league under the guidance of Jeff Ross. Juniors Spencer Martinez and Mario Garcia are expected to pace DHPH.
Garcia placed third and fourth at state the past two seasons at 171 pounds. He's ranked No. 2 at 171 pounds behind Florence's two-time state champion Matt Addington.
Addington, a senior, recently signed to wrestle for Colorado State University-Pueblo.
Alamosa Mean Moose
Coach: Gary Ramstetter
Key members: Mike Walsh, jr.; Drake Cisneros, jr.; Michael Walsh, jr.
Coach's take: "This is probably going to be a pretty tough season for us."
Canon City Tigers Coach: Duff Seaney Key members: Nolan Kessler, sr.; Kody Simon, sr.; Tim Masters, jr.; Nick Grooms, jr.; Miguel Montelongo, so.; Dillon Borrego, so. Coach's take: "We're going to be super young. I have only two seniors in the room, but I still feel like we're going to have a good dual team."
Coach: Gary Adamson
Key members: Abrum Griego, sr.; Abraham Keshmir, sr.; Todd Richardson, sr.; Timmy Romero, sr.; Bryan Romero, jr.; Dylan Solorio, jr.; Daniel Winegarder, jr.; Paul Montoya, jr.; Josiah Gallegos, so.; Devon Garcia, so.; Megan Garcia, so.
Coach's take: "I expect us to be a competitive team this year."
Coach: Efrain Tapia Key members: Jaime Granillo, sr.; Alex Baca, jr.; Josiah Alaniz, jr.; Trevor Rodriguez, jr.; Chris Chavez, so.; Michael Miller, so.; Jeremy Baca, fr.; Sonny Espinoza, fr.; Zach Montoya, fr.
Coach's take: "I'm real excited about this season for the team."
East Eagles Coach: Pat Laughlin Key members: Kraig Garcia, sr.; Keith Medina, sr.; Logan Griego, jr.; Leo Montoya, jr.; Joe Roy, jr.; Jacob Gonzales, jr.; Patrick Smith, jr.; Willie Franklin, so.; Anthony Ribarich, so.; Corey Laughlin, so.; Robert Soto, so.; Brandon DeJesus, so.
Coach's take: "We're going to be a lot more competitive than we have been the last couple of years. We're starting to get more depth in our program and we have wrestlers with more experience."
Pueblo County Hornets Coach: Eddie Soto Key members: Greg Ross, sr.; Travis Vialpando, sr.; Joey Costanza, sr.; Jake Costanza, sr.; Kyle Andrews, sr.; Desmond Hernandez, sr.; Dylan Milyard, jr.; Kody Kovacich, so.
Coach's take: "We have a lot of leadership in the room and we have a lot of experienced guys who I'm counting on."
Pueblo West Cyclones
Coach: David Falls Key members: Marc Guerrero, sr.; Cody Meyer, sr.; Ethan Ward, sr.; Justin Berns-Laborde, jr.
Coach's take: "We're going have a good team and I think we will be better than we were last year."
South Colts Coach: Jerry Sisneros Key members: Vinny Sanchez, sr.; Devin Shanley, sr.; Jacob Garcia, sr.; Brandon Lopez, sr.; Zach Carleo, sr.; Chris Maynes, sr.; Mitchell Graham, sr.; Mason Martinez, sr.; Kasey Artichoker, sr.; Timothy Urenda, jr.; Casey Abeyta, jr.; Charles Solano, jr.; Valerie Sanchez, jr.; Daniel Gibbons, jr.; Gino Long, so.; Jesse Gribble, so.; Bobby Ross, so.
Coach's take: "I have some good guys back and I'm looking forward to us having a good season."
DHPH Scorpions Coach: Jeff Ross
Key members: Josh Solano, sr.; Joe Eunice, sr.; Chad Gatliff, sr.; Mario Garcia, jr.; Mario Trujillo, jr.; Spencer Martinez, jr.; Brian Hart, jr.; Jaurez Vasquez, jr.
Coach's take: "I don't havea lot of depth, but I do have good quality kids in the program."
South-Central League wrestling schedule Dec. 11---Berthoud at East, 6 p.m.
Dec. 12---East, South, Centennial, Pueblo County, Central, Dolores Huerta, Alamosa, at East Invitational, East High School, all day
Dec. 17---Dolores Huerta at Central, 7 p.m.
Dec. 18---Centennial, South at Warrior Classic, Grand Junction, all day; Pueblo County, Central, Canon City at UNC Christmas tourney, all day, Greeley; Alamosa at Tournament of Champions, Reno, Nev.
Dec. 19---East at Southern Colorado Classic, Cheyenne Mountain High School, all day; Centennial, South at Warrior Classic, Grand Junction, all day; Pueblo County, Central, Canon City at UNC Christmas tourney, all day, Greeley; Alamosa at Tournament of Champions, Reno, Nev.
Jan. 7---Central at South, 7 p.m.; Centennial at East, 7 p.m.; Canon City at Pueblo County, 7 p.m.
Jan. 8---Alamosa at Peoria (Ariz.) Invitational, all day
Jan. 9---South at Colt Classic, South High School, all day; East at Dakota Ridge Invite, Golden, all day; Centennial at Rangeview Invite, Denver, all day; Pueblo County at Lamar Invite, all day; Alamosa at Peoria (Ariz.) Invitational, all day
Jan. 14---South at Canon City, 7 p.m.; East at Pueblo County, 7 p.m.; Alamosa at Centennial, 7 p.m.; Pueblo West at Central, 7 p.m.
Jan. 15---Cheyenne Mountain at Centennial, 4 p.m.
Jan. 16---Centennial, South, East, Central, Pueblo County at Bulldog Invitational, Centennial High School, all day; Alamosa at Alamosa Invitational, all day; Canon City at Florence Husky Invite, all day
Jan. 21---Pueblo County at South, 7 p.m.; Central at East, 7 p.m.; Centennial at Pueblo West, 7 p.m.; Alamosa at Canon City, 7 p.m.
Jan. 22---Montrose vs. East, 7 p.m., Heaton Middle School, Pueblo; South, Alamosa at Top of Rockies tournament, Centaurus High School, Lafayette
Jan. 23---South at Top of Rockies tournament, Centaurus High School, Lafayette; Centennial, Pueblo County, Canon City at Canon City Invitational, all day; Central at Northglenn tourney, all day
Jan. 27---Canon City at Centennial, 7 p.m.
Jan. 28---South at Alamosa, 7 p.m.; Pueblo West at East, 7 p.m.; Central at Pueblo County, 7 p.m.
Jan. 29---Central, Alamosa at Rocky Mountain Beast tourney, all day, Denver Coliseum; Canon City at Garden City (Kan.) tournament, all day
Jan. 30---East at Widefield duals, Colorado Springs, all day; South at Thomas Jefferson tournament, Denver, all day; Centennial at Brighton Invite, all day; Central, Alamosa at Rocky Mountain Beast tourney, all day, Denver Coliseum; Canon City at Garden City (Kan.) tournament
Feb. 4---East at South, 7 p.m.; Centennial at Central, 7 p.m.; Pueblo County at Alamosa, 7 p.m.; Canon City at Pueblo West
Feb. 6---East at Canon City Tiger duals, all day; Pueblo County at Eaton duals, all day
Feb. 12-13---Class 4A Region 4 tournament, Colorado State Fair Events Center, all day
Feb. 18-20---Class 4A state tournament, Pepsi Center, Denver
article updated on 12/10/09 15:21