DENVER - Eagle Valley's Andy Armstrong is 6 minutes (or fewer) from the dream.
Armstrong, who finished fifth in last year's state tournament at 220 pounds, is in tonight's final against Canon City's Garrett Benell at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The parade of champions, composed of all those in Class 2A-5A in tonight's title bouts, starts at 6:30 The bouts start at 7 p.m., with 106 pounds, so Armstrong will go at it at approximately 8-8:30 p.m.
Armstrong advanced to the final with a 3-0 decision over Connor Eakes of Broomfield. Armstrong was never in trouble and controlled matters for the whole 6 minutes.
After his customary pump-up with coach Ron Beard and assistant Luke Cross - high-fives down low - and a quick kneel for a moment of prayer, Armstrong went to work.
Eakes tried to shoot Armstrong repeatedly to no avail. Once they engaged, Armstrong nearly turned Eakes in the first period, but couldn't quite get the two points.
Armstrong started the second period with Eakes in the top position.
"Luke was yelling, 'How fast?' That's what we yell whenever anyone's on the bottom," Beard said. "You don't want to carry the weight of the guy on top. How fast can you get away?"
Apparently, very fast. Armstrong (39-0) blew out of Eakes' hold and registered the one-point escape. Shortly afterward, the two engaged, and Armstrong threw Eakes down for a takedown and a 3-0 lead.
"It feels pretty good," Armstrong said. "We should have more guys wrestling still. I'll be watching them all day trying to get ready."
Armstrong rode on top for the entire third period, trying to turn Eakes for the pin.
"Never in danger," Beard said. "That was a dominating 3-0 performance. That kid's a good wrestler, but his goal was just not to get pinned."
That was the only bad news for Armstrong, who had 26 pins going into the match. He wanted to match Mason Ewing's fall record of 28, set in 2006. More importantly, though, Armstrong is still in the running for the brass ring.
Armstrong made the semifinals by getting a 7-5 decision over Pueblo South's Hunter Reinert Friday afternoon.
The other members of Eagle Valley's quartet in Denver were busy Saturday well after the Vail Daily's press time.
At 182 pounds, Ty LaFramboise fell to the top seed, Mead's Kyle Couch, 9-4. LaFramboise was scheduled to face Canon City's Anthony Abbott in the wrestle-back late Saturday night.
Joey Sanchez (195) ran into Jaime Ramos Vega, of Longmont, dropping a 6-3 decision. Sanchez was taking on Palmer Ridge's Phoenix Versey in a bid to rally for a place on the podium.
Cole Nielsen, at 170 pounds, was eliminated from the tournament with a 5-0 loss to Golden's Brad Blackstock.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.