Sterling looks to be overlooked no more, plus a team-by-team state wrestling preview

Welcome to another edition of The Playbook! We have exciting news (besides all the postseason wrestli
The Playbook
Sterling looks to be overlooked no more, plus a team-by-team state wrestling preview
By The Playbook • Issue #60 • View online
Welcome to another edition of The Playbook!
We have exciting news (besides all the postseason wrestling and basketball content to come). The two lucky winners from our audience survey are…..Alisha and Ruben L. Congratulations! We will contact you through the email you provided in the form to give you your pair of Colorado Eagles’ hockey tickets.
And even more exciting news, we will be moving our Monday edition to Sunday this coming week. This way we can give you all the state wrestling results as soon as possible. No need to wait an extra day, knowing you’ll be hungry for the results from championship Saturday at Denver’s Pepsi Center.
Thank you for all your support! Enjoy the issue.

Overlooked Sterling wrestling makes noise at regionals
By Quinn Ritzdorf, qritzdorf@patriotplaybook.com
When Patriot League wrestling is talked about, it’s usually Eaton or Valley taking over the headlines. It’s not often that another team will supplant the powerhouses in those conversations. That’s the case this year, as well, although it probably shouldn’t be.
The Sterling Tigers are wrestling under the radar. Despite their great performances and a number of top wrestlers in Class 3A, they go overlooked in the Patriot League wrestling conversation. 
Sterling's Drew Book, right, wrestles Fort Morgan's James Hochanadel in the 220-pound regional championship Saturday in Kersey. Book won the match 3-1 in sudden victory. (Photo by Quinn Ritzdorf)
Sterling's Drew Book, right, wrestles Fort Morgan's James Hochanadel in the 220-pound regional championship Saturday in Kersey. Book won the match 3-1 in sudden victory. (Photo by Quinn Ritzdorf)
“We are very underrated,” Sterling wrestler Drew Book said. “No one talks about us. I think we are underrated because we don’t have any standout wrestlers. Now is our time, though.”
Although they have gone all season without a peep or a mention, they put their name on the map with their performance this past weekend in regionals at Platte Valley Middle School. 
Sterling's Zach Loft prepares for the 126-pound regional championship Saturday at Platte Valley Middle School. He won the match via a 3-0 decision. (Photo by Quinn Ritzdorf)
Sterling's Zach Loft prepares for the 126-pound regional championship Saturday at Platte Valley Middle School. He won the match via a 3-0 decision. (Photo by Quinn Ritzdorf)
“I thought we had an excellent tournament,” Sterling coach Chad Duncan said. “The effort was there every match. I asked them to put forth great effort no matter if we are ahead or behind. I think they did that and it showed.”
They had six wrestlers in regional championship matches. Three of them placed first. In all, they have 10 wrestlers making the trip to the Pepsi Center starting Thursday.
Not only did they show up individually, they made a statement as a team. In their final match of the day, Drew Book won 3-1 in sudden victory to give the Tigers a first place tie with Berthoud in the team standings.
And of course no one thought Sterling would be atop the team standings much less advance 10 wrestlers to state. Yet here they are as they go into state saying, “Why not us?”
Sterling's wrestling coach Chad Duncan talks about his team's performance at the wrestling regionals, if he thinks Sterling is overlooked and expectations for state.
Sterling's wrestling coach Chad Duncan talks about his team's performance at the wrestling regionals, if he thinks Sterling is overlooked and expectations for state.
“I think a lot of times how you wrestle at regionals does carry over into state,” Duncan said. “We have a lot of top-notch kids here, but at state it’s a lot deeper.”
With state only a matter of days away, Sterling has become that green dot on Eaton and Valley’s radar. And they are approaching fast ready to make a scene. Before regionals, little was talked about the Tigers, but after their performance, they have proven themselves as a top team in the Patriot League.
“We have 10 going to state which give us a pump up,” Book said. “We came here wanting to get six or seven and we ended up getting 10 and that’s a boost right there.”
Sterling's wrestler Drew Book discusses his overtime victory, how he thinks Sterling is underrated and what Sterling's regional performance means going into state.
Sterling's wrestler Drew Book discusses his overtime victory, how he thinks Sterling is underrated and what Sterling's regional performance means going into state.
The Lead
A team-by-team preview of the state wrestling tournament
By Bobby Fernandez, bfernandez@patriotplaybook
Here is how each Patriot League wrestling program is looking heading into the three-day Class 3A state tournament, beginning Thursday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Brush Beetdiggers
» Seven state qualifiers (regional placement, overall record): 120-pounder Erick Urbina, jr. (4th, 21-10); 138-pounder Hunter Ludgate, jr. (4th, 16-14); 152-pounder Oswaldo Nunez, sr. (1st. 27-6); 160-pounder Chase Barnett, sr. (3rd, 13-6); 170-pounder Wyatt Pfau, sr. (1st, 37-3); 182-pounder Nick Wellen, jr. (2nd, 30-8); 195-pounder Thomas Mettlen, sr. (3rd, 27-13)
» Wrestler to watch: Pfau is attempting to win his second consecutive individual state title after winning the 152-pound title a year ago. If he’s successful, he will be the ninth multi-time champion in Brush’s famed history. He is the Patriot League’s only defending state champion. 
» Playbook prediction: Brush places ninth in the team standings and produces one individual champion, Pfau.
Eaton
» 10 State qualifiers: 106-pounder Alex Castaneda, fr. (4th, 21-7); 113-pounder Toby Gavette, sr. (3rd, 35-5); 138-pounder Dylan Yancey, sr. (1st, 39-5); 145-pounder Cael Jordan, soph. (4th, 17-16); 152-pounder Jackson Contreras, sr. (4th, 18-6); 170-pounder Ty Garnhart, sr. (1st, 38-5); 182-pounder Judson Church, sr. (3rd, 39-13); 195-pounder Logan Bean, jr. (3rd, 20-11); 220-pounder Tanner True, soph. (3rd, 32-10); Heavyweight Jeremy Murano, sr. (2nd, 32-4).
» Wrestler to watch: After placing third at state last year, Yancey is easily a contender to win the 138-pound bracket this year. He is ranked second by On The Mat, though, and is a very slight underdog behind Valley’s top-ranked wrestler Isaiah Rios, who is 2-1 against Yancey this winter.
» Playbook prediction: Eaton will have a ton of placewinners — maybe a half dozen or more — but we’re not predicting any state champions. The rock-solid Reds will finish second in the team standings behind Alamosa.
Weld Central’s Jimmy LaConte wrestles Brush’s Wyatt Pfau during a 152-pound match during the 2017 Class 3A Wrestling Championships at the Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Cir., in Denver. (Photo by Joshua Polson)
Weld Central’s Jimmy LaConte wrestles Brush’s Wyatt Pfau during a 152-pound match during the 2017 Class 3A Wrestling Championships at the Pepsi Center, 1000 Chopper Cir., in Denver. (Photo by Joshua Polson)
Estes Park Bobcats
» One state qualifier: 106-pounder Elijah Kitchen, soph. (3rd, 29-4)
» Wrestler to watch: Kitchen is the Bobcats’ lone qualifier.
» Playbook prediction: Estes Park won’t have a placewinner and it will finish in the bottom 10 of team scores.
Platte Valley Broncos
» Five state qualifiers: 106-pounder Nicholas Dill, soph. (4th, 17-17); 120-pounder Orrin Jackson, fr. (3rd, 27-14); 160-pounder Josh Yancey, jr. (2nd, 24-9); 182-pounder Colton Moore, sr. (1st, 26-7); 195-pounder Jeremiah Garcia, soph. (1st, 21-11).
» Wrestler to watch: Moore is ranked fourth at 182 by On The Mat and has a legit shot of making it to the finals.
» Playbook prediction: Moore will fall just short of a state title, despite an impressive showing, and the Broncos will place 20th in the team standings.
Resurrection Christian Cougars
» One state qualifier: 132-pounder Eddie Lemos, fr. (4th, 25-16)
» Wrestler to watch: Lemos is the Cougars’ only state qualifier.
» Playbook prediction: The Cougars will place in the bottom 10 and will not have an individual placewinner. Still, this will serve as quality experience for Lemos in his freshman season.
Sterling Tigers
» 10 state qualifiers: 106-pounder Casteus Combs, fr. (2nd, 18-14); 113-pounder Moises Rivas, soph. (1st, 20-6); 126-pounder Zach Loft, sr. (1st, 36-2); 132-pounder Riley Bornhoft, soph. (2nd, 23-6); 138-pounder Isaac De Leon, sr. (2nd, 23-7); 152-pounder Traevonn Walton, sr. (4th, 23-14); 182-pounder Tate Green, sr. (4th, 20-17); 195-pounder Eleazer Chavez, sr.. (4th, 14-11); 220-pounder Drew Book, jr. (1st, 31-3); Heavyweight Austin Garcia, soph. (4th, 5-13). 
» Wrestler to watch: Loft is a legitimate state title contender and is ranked second at 126 behind Alamosa’s Joe Chavez. His only two losses are against Pagosa Springs’ James Thomas, who now wrestles in a different weight class than Loft, and Valley’s Zach Brown, who is also in a higher weight class.
» Playbook prediction: Sterling will finish eighth in the team standings, won’t have an individual state champion but will have plenty of placewinners.
University Bulldogs
» Three state qualifiers: 145-pounder Josh Anderson, sr. (3rd, 22-11); 220-pounder Sebastian Cortez, soph. (4th, 13-15); Heavyweight Emanuel Munoz-Alcala, jr. (1st, 34-3)
» Wrestler to watch: After missing this past season with a serious knee injury, Munoz-Alcala has positioned himself as a real threat to win a state title. He’s ranked third by On The Mat behind Alamosa’s Logan Thompson and Eaton’s Jeremy Murano.
» Playbook prediction: University places in the bottom third of the team standings but they crown an individual champion in Munoz-Alcala.
Valley's Jaziah Whaley grapples with Northglenn's Donovan Schrad in a 160-pound match Dec. 14 at the Northern Colorado Christmas Tournament at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland. (Photo by Joshua Polson)
Valley's Jaziah Whaley grapples with Northglenn's Donovan Schrad in a 160-pound match Dec. 14 at the Northern Colorado Christmas Tournament at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland. (Photo by Joshua Polson)
Valley Vikings
» Eight state qualifiers: 106-pounder Angel Rios, jr. (1st, 23-3); 113-pounder Javan Valdez, soph. (3rd, 22-9); 120-pounder Daniel Matthews, jr. (2nd, 31-8); 126-pounder Noah Damian, jr. (3rd, 22-9); 132-pounder Zach Brown, soph. (1st, 33-5); 138-pounder Isaiah Rios, soph. (1st, 27-1); 152-pounder Colin Brown, fr. (2nd, 38-5); 160-pounder Jaziah Whaley, jr. (1st, 38-1)
» Wrestler to watch: This could finally be Whaley’s year after third-place finishes in his first two years of high school.
» Playbook prediction: Valley won’t have the sheer numbers to contend for a team title, but they could have multiple state champions (Whaley and Isaiah Rios) and will place 10th in the team standings.
* Note: Patriot League school Strasburg didn’t qualify anyone for state.
Playbook Prime Performance
Boys
Bobby: University freshman Tayt Chacon had a smashing first playoff game of his young high school career, scoring 24 points and pulling down seven rebounds in a very, very minor upset — the Bulldogs’ 70-65 overtime road win against Eaton in the Patriot League district hoops second round on Tuesday. 
Quinn: Tyler Kissler. Despite losing to Resurrection Christian 79-66, Kissler put on show with 21 points and kept Valley in a game that many thought would be a blowout.
Girls
Bobby: Molli Peacock. The Resurrection Christian senior has been the No. 3 option for the Cougars throughout the season. But, on Tuesday, in a 66-36 Patriot League girls basketball district tournament semifinals win against Sterling, she stepped up big, scoring a team-high 20 points. That’s the benefit of having supreme depth.
Quinn: Sydney Booth. The Eaton senior led the Reds to a 57-19 win over Estes Park with a near double-double. Booth scored 16 points and grabbed 9 boards to help Eaton advance to the semifinal against University.
Resurrection Christian Hockey Volunteers
Resurrection Christian’s hockey team volunteered at Slammin’ Famine in Loveland on Monday. They helped pack meals for malnourished children around the world.
Resurrection Christian's hockey team volunteering at Slammin' Famine. (Photo by Resurrection Christian Hockey)
Resurrection Christian's hockey team volunteering at Slammin' Famine. (Photo by Resurrection Christian Hockey)
Follow the action
For full brackets and to follow all of the live action from the Pepsi Center during the three-day state wrestling tournament, go to trackwrestling.com, or follow the link through CHSAANow.com’s wrestling page.
Spring into action
Even though postseason wrestling and basketball are prominent on most of your minds, the spring season is just around the corner
In fact, spring practices start this Monday. We’ll be discussing the great accomplishments of Patriot League baseball players, track athletes, etc., etc., in no time.
Athletes of the Week Results
Can we get a drumroll, please?
Here is who you picked, via Twitter, as this past week’s Patriot League girls and boys Athletes of the Week:
Congratulions to Rios and Chacon!
Wha'dya Think?
This is another brand new section we are adding every Wednesday to The Playbook. We want to see who among our subscribers is the best at predicting outcomes.
How to play: Click to vote. Once you click, your vote is registered. You’ll then be sent to a separate page to answer tiebreaker questions. The winner will receive a shoutout in Sunday’s Playbook. Good luck!
Question: How many individual state wrestling champions will the Patriot League produce this weekend at the state tournament?
For your pick to count you must submit it by noon Thursday.
The Scorebook: Your daily results
Tuesday
Patriot League District Championships
Second Round
Girls
No. 1 Eaton 57, No. 8 Estes Park 19, in Eaton
  • Key stat — Eaton senior Sydney Booth had her way inside, scoring 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go with nine rebounds.
  • What’s next? — The Reds play host to No. 4 University in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. today.
No. 4 University 38, No. 5 Brush 31, in Greeley
  • Key stat — Like Booth, University junior Taylor Gollhofer feasted in the paint, scoring 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
  • What’s next? — The Bulldogs travel to Eaton to take on the tournament favorite Reds at 5:30 p.m. today.
No. 3 Resurrection Christian 66, No. 6 Sterling 36, in Loveland
  • Key stat — Resurrection Christian led 40-11 at halftime after a 24-3 second quarter.
  • What’s next? — The Cougars travel to Kersey to take on No. 2 Platte Valley at 6 tonight.
No 2 Platte Valley 49, No. 7 Liberty Common 37, in Kersey
  • Key stat — Platte Valley had three double-digit scorers — freshman Cora Schissler (13 points), freshman Brooke Bunting (11) and senior Faith Fetzer (10).
  • What’s next? — The Broncos play host to Resurrection Christian in the semifinals at 6 tonight.
Boys
No. 1 Sterling 71, No. 8 Frontier Academy 34
  • Key stat — After leading just 28-25 at halftime, the Tigers outscored the Wolverines 43-9 in the second half.
  • What’s next? — Sterling takes on No. 5 University, in Sterling, at 7 tonight.
No. 5 University 70, No. 4 Eaton 65, OT, in Eaton
  • Key stat — University freshman Tayt Chacon led the way for the Bulldogs in this epic second-round game with 24 points, seven rebounds and two steals.
  • What’s next? — University faces top-seeded powerhouse Sterling at 7 tonight. 
No. 3 Platte Valley 57, No. 6 Strasburg 47
  • Key stat — It was a defensive show as Platte Valley led at halftime with a score of 19-18. Then the offense decided to show up as the Broncos outscored Strasburg 38-29.
  • What’s next? — Platte Valley visits Resurrection Christian tonight at 7.
No. 2 Resurrection Christian 79, No. 7 Valley 66
  • Key stat — The Cougars got out to a fast start and were leading at halftime by 15 points, 47-32.
  • What’s next? — No. 2 Resurrection Christian faces off against No. 3 Platte Valley tonight at 7.

Coming up in Friday's Playbook
  • Team-by-team results and instant reaction from the first day of the state wrestling tournament.
  • We’ll also take a look at where Patriot League teams sit heading into the last day of the district basketball tournaments.
Thanks for reading! See you Friday!
Bobby Fernandez, The Playbook Publisher
Quinn Ritzdorf, The Playbook Reporter
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