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Tons and tons of Day 1 state wrestling coverage, plus a look at the 🏀 district tournaments heading into the finals

Welcome to a state wrestling Day 1 edition of The Playbook! We'll have plenty of first-day wrestling
The Playbook
Tons and tons of Day 1 state wrestling coverage, plus a look at the 🏀 district tournaments heading into the finals
By The Playbook • Issue #61 • View online
Welcome to a state wrestling Day 1 edition of The Playbook!
We’ll have plenty of first-day wrestling impressions and highlights, plus we’ll get you caught up on the latest developments in the Class 3A Patriot League boys and girls basketball district tournaments.

Eaton 113-pounder Toby Gavette, bottom, earned a 12-1 major decision over Pagosa Springs’ Erik Wyman on Thursday during the Class 3A Wrestling Championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Eaton 113-pounder Toby Gavette, bottom, earned a 12-1 major decision over Pagosa Springs’ Erik Wyman on Thursday during the Class 3A Wrestling Championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
The Lead
By Bobby Fernandez, bfernandez@patriotplaybook.com
DENVER — Here’s a team-by-team look at how the Patriot League’s eight qualifying teams fared during the first day (and first round) of the Class 3A Wrestling Championships on Thursday at Denver’s Pepsi Center.
The three-day tournament resumes today with the championship quarterfinals at 9 a.m. The always dramatic semifinals are slated for 6:45 tonight.
Brush senior Wyatt Pfau made quick work of his first-round opponent Thursday.
Brush senior Wyatt Pfau made quick work of his first-round opponent Thursday.
Brush Beetdiggers
  • Record on the day: 3-4 (wins by 152-pounder Oswaldo Nunez (38-6), 170-pounder Wyatt Pfau (38-3) and 195-pounder Thomas Mettlen (38-13))
  • Team placement: Tied-11th (10 points)
  • Best thing we saw: Pfau, looking to repeat as a state champion, hardly broke a sweat, recording his first-period victory in barely more time than a single college basketball possession. He pinned Montezuma-Cortez’s Kerwin Tom (27-14) in 40 seconds.
Eaton’s Dylan Yancey tries to pin Brush’s Hunter Ludgate on Thursday afternoon during the Class 3A Wrestling Championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Eaton’s Dylan Yancey tries to pin Brush’s Hunter Ludgate on Thursday afternoon during the Class 3A Wrestling Championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Eaton Reds
  • Record on the day: 4-5 (wins by 113-pounder Toby Gavette (36-5), 138-pounder Dylan Yancey (40-5), 170-pounder Ty Garnhart (39-5) and heavyweight Jeremy Murano (33-4))
  • Team placement: Tied-6th (15 points)
  • Best thing we saw: Murano recorded his first-period pin in barely more time than an NBA basketball possession, 26 seconds over Rifle’s Alejandro Robles (18-12).
Estes Park Bobcats
  • Record on the day: 1-0 (win by 106-pounder Elijah Kitchen (30-4))
  • Team placement: Tied-27th (four points)
  • Best thing we saw: Kitchen, a sophomore, was dominant, pinning Gunnison’s Jared Van Hee (30-9) in 2:53.
Platte Valley's Colton Moore, top, wrestles Lamar's Jesus Reyes on Thursday during the Class 3A Wrestling Championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Moore won with a pin. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Platte Valley's Colton Moore, top, wrestles Lamar's Jesus Reyes on Thursday during the Class 3A Wrestling Championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Moore won with a pin. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Platte Valley Broncos
  • Record on the day: 3-2 (wins by 160-pounder Josh Yancey (25-9), 182-pounder Colton Moore (27-7) and 195-pounder Jeremiah Garcia (22-11))
  • Team placement: Tied-16th (eight points)
  • Best thing we saw: After dropping their first two matches of the day, the Broncos won three straight to close the first round.
Resurrection Christian Cougars
  • Record on the day: 0-1
  • Team placement: N/A
  • Best thing we saw: Despite his loss, 132-pound Eddie Lemos (25-17), a freshman, earned quality experience in his first state tournament.
Sterling's Zach Loft, right, wrestles Thursday during the Class 3A Wrestling Championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Sterling's Zach Loft, right, wrestles Thursday during the Class 3A Wrestling Championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Sterling Tigers
  • Record on the day: 3-6 (wins by 106-pounder Casteus Combs (19-14), 126-pounder Zach Loft (37-2) and 220-pounder Drew Book (32-3)
  • Team placement: 15th (nine points)
  • Best thing we saw: Combs secured a win in one of the closest matches of the first round, a 6-4 win over Moffat County’s Hunter Fredrickson (37-12).
Strasburg Indians
  • Record on the day: 0-1
  • Team placement: N/A
  • Best thing we saw: Like aforementioned Lemos, Strasburg 220-pound junior Chad Sutherland (26-6) received valuable experience in his state tournament debut, even though he couldn’t produce a win.
University High's Emanuel Munoz-Alacala goes for a takedown against James Irwin's Kyle Good on Thursday during the Class 3A Wrestling Championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
University High's Emanuel Munoz-Alacala goes for a takedown against James Irwin's Kyle Good on Thursday during the Class 3A Wrestling Championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
University Bulldogs
  • Record on the day: 1-2 (win by heavyweight Emanuel Munoz-Alcala (35-3))
  • Team placement: Tied-27th (four points)
  • Best thing we saw: Munoz-Alcala showed the early form needed to ultimately make a run to Saturday’s finals with a pin over James Irwin’s Kyle Good in 2:35.
Valley’s Isaiah Rios takes Glenwood Springs’ Joaquin Garcia to the mat Thursday during the Class 3A Wrestling championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Valley’s Isaiah Rios takes Glenwood Springs’ Joaquin Garcia to the mat Thursday during the Class 3A Wrestling championships at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Michael Brian/mbrian@greeleytribune.com)
Valley Vikings
  • Record on the day: 4-4 (wins by 126-pounder Noah Damian (23-9), 132-pounder Zach Brown (34-5), 138-pounder Isaiah Rios (28-1) and 160-pounder Jaziah Whaley (39-1))
  • Team placement: Tied-6th (15 points)
  • Best thing we saw: The smallest team among 3A’s upper tier, the Vikings wrestled with supreme aggression. They recorded bonus points in all four of their wins, pins in three of them.
Injuries mar Estes Park's season and the Walker family
By Quinn Ritzdorf, qritzdorf@patriotplaybook.com
LOVELAND — The Estes Park girls’ basketball team finished with its best regular season in five years going 10-9. But that’s in the rearview mirror now. The more pressing issue is the loss of their second and fifth leading scorers to ACL injuries… in a matter of three days… to the same family.
Sophomore Ruth Walker tore her ACL in a game against Valley on Feb. 5. For Ruth, this is her second ACL tear in only two years. She tore her other ACL the previous basketball season. 
Estes Park's Ruth Walker, left, and Bella Walker, right, watch their team take on Resurrection Christian on Feb. 12 at Resurrection Christian High School in Loveland. The sisters tore their ACLs within three days of each other. (Photo by Quinn Ritzdorf)
Estes Park's Ruth Walker, left, and Bella Walker, right, watch their team take on Resurrection Christian on Feb. 12 at Resurrection Christian High School in Loveland. The sisters tore their ACLs within three days of each other. (Photo by Quinn Ritzdorf)
Three days later, in the very next game, her freshman sister, Bella Walker, tore her ACL against Brush. Bella started the season on junior varsity but was brought up to the varsity team five games into the season.
“(Bella) can shoot the ball a little bit; we lack outside shooting, which allows teams to focus on our post players,” Welch said. “We needed more shooting, and we thought Bella could do that for us.”
Estes Park's coach Michael Welch talks about the season, injuries to the Walker sisters and looking to next year.
Estes Park's coach Michael Welch talks about the season, injuries to the Walker sisters and looking to next year.
It took her time to adjust to the pace of varsity basketball, but she improved with each game. In her last game before tearing her ACL, she scored 19 points and grabbed seven boards.
“It’s definitely a different pace,” Bella said of moving to varsity from J.V. “The girls on the varsity, it was more hustle and effort. It was scary at first being a tiny freshman, but coach helped me adjust by having me practice with the varsity.”
Estes Park's coach Michael Welch talks to his team during a timeout against Resurrection Christian on Feb. 12 at Resurrection Christian High School. (Photo by Quinn Ritzdorf)
Estes Park's coach Michael Welch talks to his team during a timeout against Resurrection Christian on Feb. 12 at Resurrection Christian High School. (Photo by Quinn Ritzdorf)
As both sisters begin the grueling recovery process of torn ACLs, which includes a year of physical therapy, the question is whether the Walker sisters can make a full recovery in time for next season.
With the Bobcats losing only one senior, and arguably the best player in the Patriot League, Olivia Hamel, returning as a senior, this is Estes Park’s chance to make some noise atop the Patriot League. 
Estes Park's sister duo of Ruth and Bella Walker talk about their injuries, the recovery process and next season.
Estes Park's sister duo of Ruth and Bella Walker talk about their injuries, the recovery process and next season.
“The girls that are coming up from the eighth grade are playing basketball and putting in the effort,” Bella said. “Most of the girls on our team are going to summer camp so hopefully next year we will be much better.”
The recovery of the Walker sisters will play a major role in whether the Bobcats are fighting for a playoff position or competing with the likes of Eaton and Platte Valley. 
Playbook Prime Performance
Boys
Bobby: Sterling’s Casteus Combs. While usually I would go with someone who had an emphatic, dominant victory in the first day of the state wrestling tournament, I’m going to go with Combs for having the perseverance to eke out a 6-4 win.
Quinn: Jeremy Murano. The Eaton senior pinned Alejandro Robles of Rifle in 26 seconds. TWENTY-SIX! That’s quicker than it took me to write this paragraph.
Girls
Bobby: Eaton’s Addie Randel. She spearheaded the Reds’ impressive defensive performance Wednesday against University with four steals to go with six assists, two points and three rebounds. She truly stuffed the stat sheet.
Quinn: Faith Fetzer. The Platte Valley senior recorded a 12-point, 13-rebound double-double that was huge in a 48-46 overtime win against Resurrection Christian to put the Broncos into the district championship against Eaton.
Play of the Day
The Play of the Day came from Valley’s Jaziah Whaley during the first round of the state wrestling tournament at the Pepsi Center.
Whaley had Elizabeth’s Spencer Winkle on his side but couldn’t get his right shoulder down. So here’s what he did:
Valley's Jaziah Whaley pins Elizabeth's Spencer Winkle in the first round of the state tournament.
Valley's Jaziah Whaley pins Elizabeth's Spencer Winkle in the first round of the state tournament.
Whaley jumped over Winkle to the other side and pushed his shoulder down to get the pin in 2:24.
Future of the Patriot League
Frontier Academy's eighth grade tennis player Nico Jamison. (Photo by Frontier Academy)
Frontier Academy's eighth grade tennis player Nico Jamison. (Photo by Frontier Academy)
Frontier Academy’s eighth grade tennis player, Nico Jamison, was awarded the John Hough Award for a Colorado boy who exemplifies sportsmanship, leadership and achievement by United States Tennis Association Colorado at their annual gala.
This past weekend, he placed second at a National Level 2 in Texas. Although Frontier Academy High School doesn’t have a tennis program, he will probably play for another school in the area.
Scoreboard
Wednesday
Girls
Patriot League District Championships — Semifinals
No. 1 Eaton 51, No. 4 University 36
  • Key Stat — Eaton had three players score double digits, Sydney Booth (13), Bailie Duncan (12) and Nakaiya Kuskie (11).
  • What’s next? — The Reds will take on No. 2 Platte Valley at University of Northen Coloardo’s Bank of Colorado Arena at 6 tonight. As for University, it will take on No. 3 Resurrection Christian for third place at UNC at 3 p.m. today.
No. 2 Platte Valley 48, No. 3 Resurrection Christian 46, OT
  • Key Stat — Platte Valley had two players record double-doubles, Kassandra Shoemaker (12 pts, 12 reb) and Faith Fetzer (13 pts, 12 reb).
  • What’s next? — The Broncos will face No. 1 Eaton in a rematch from earlier this season. The Reds won 43-35 on Jan. 11. Resurrection Christian will face No. 4 University, who it beat earlier in the season, 45-30.
Patriot League District Championships — Consolation
No. 5 Brush 54, No. 8 Estes Park 20
  • Key Stat — Brush’s defense made stop after stop as it didn’t allow Estes Park to score double digits in any quarter.
  • What’s next? — The Beetdiggers will face No. 6 Sterling at UNC at noon today. Estes Park will play No. 7 Liberty Common at UNC at 9 this morning.
No. 6 Sterling 45, No. 7 Liberty Common 24
  • Key Stat — It took a while for the offenses to get rolling. Sterling was leading at halftime 13-11 but outscored the Eagles 32-13 in the second half.
  • What’s next? — The Tigers will play No. 5 Brush at UNC at noon today. They lost earlier in the season to the Beetdiggers 59-42. Liberty Common will play No. 8 Estes Park in a rematch from earlier in the season when the Eagles won 37-30. They will play at UNC at 9 this morning.

Boys
Patriot League District Championships — Semifinals
No. 1 Sterling 72, No. 5 University 25
  • Key Stat — Sterling never let off the gas in this one. In the second half, the Tigers outscored University 40-8.
  • What’s next? — The Tigers will face No. 2 Resurrection Christian in a highly anticipated rematch. Sterling won earlier in the season 63-54 in overtime. The two teams will play at UNC at 7:30 tonight. University will play No. 3 Platte Valley at UNC at 3 p.m. today.
No. 2 Resurrection Christian 68, No. 3 Platte Valley 58
  • Key Stat — Resurrection Christian was down 50-46 going into the fourth quarter but finished the game on a 22-8 run.
  • What’s next? — The Cougars will play No. 1 Sterling at UNC at 7:30 tonight. Platte Valley will play No. 5 University at UNC at 3 p.m. today. The Broncos won earlier in the season 73-67.
Patriot League District Championships — Consolation
No. 4 Eaton 82, No. 8 Frontier Academy 68
  • Key stat — Sophomore Ryan Ure had a monster double-double with 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting to go with 21 rebounds.
  • What’s next? — Eaton faces No. 6 Strasburg in the fifth-place game at 1:30 p.m. today at Bank of Colorado Arena. The Reds beat the Indians 66-53 during the regular season.
No. 6 Strasburg 73, No. 7 Valley 61
  • Key stat — Strasburg had four players with 13 or more points apiece, led by J.C. Spence (17 points) and Mitchell Davis (16 points on 5-for-5 shooting).
  • What’s next? — Strasburg takes on Eaton in the fifth-place game at 1:30 p.m. today.
Coming up in Saturday's edition of The Playbook
We’ll keep rolling right along from Denver’s Pepsi Center, with Day 2 state wrestling coverage, including tonight’s exhilarating semifinals.
Plus, we’ll tell you who emerged victorious during the final day of the district basketball tournaments.
Thanks for reading! See you Saturday!
Bobby Fernandez, The Playbook Publisher
Quinn Ritzdorf, The Playbook Reporter
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