MONTROSE — This really was meant to be rebuilding year.
Eagle Valley graduated four state wrestlers this past spring, including state champion Andy Armstrong, who was a perfect 40-0, and Ty LaFramboise, who was fourth, not to mention Cole Nielsen and Joey Sanchez. The Devils didn’t return anyone who placed at this past year’s regional tournament, much less qualify for state.
So all Eagle Valley wrestling did this weekend at regionals this weekend in Montrose was finish fourth as a team behind only Pueblo County Discovery Canyon and Delta, in what Devils coach Ron Beard, who’s led the team since 2004, called the best performance in recent memory. And Eagle Valley will be sending four wrestlers — again — to state next weekend at the Pepsi Center.
“We’re just ecstatic,” said Beard, who really isn’t an effusive kind of guy. “We’re ecstatic with how our guys performed in what should have been a rebuilding year. We had no (state) qualifiers coming back. We had no (regional) placers coming back.”
Noah Hermosillo (106 pounds) and Raul Lopez (113) are only the second and third freshmen during Beard’s tenure to qualify for state. The first frosh to do so was James Harvey, and the Harvey brothers were darn good. (Their names are on the wall of the wrestling room in Gypsum.)
Hermosillo placed fourth and Lopez second.
Senior Ruben Chagoya is headed to the Pepsi Center at 152 pounds after finishing third and Eagle Valley will also have an X-factor in Denver. Xavier Mendoza took second at 220 pounds.
With any regional tournament comes heartbreak. The biggest was Devin Ward, a prohibitive favorite at 182 pounds. The senior separated his shoulder during his bout on Friday, but gamely soldiered on. He came within one match of making state, despite his bad shoulder.
“He was wrestling with one arm,” Beard said. “Everybody knew it. He did a great job with one arm. He was amazing all season.”
Eagle Valley had other close calls for state. Trever LaFramboise was fifth at 120. Junior Chris Comroe lost a wrestle-back at 126. Seniors Davey Madrid (160) and Rafael Gurule (145) both finished fifth in their Eagle Valley wrestling finales.
Seniors Alex Wilmore and Jacob Morrison finished up their grappling careers.
“It’s always bittersweet,” Beard said. “It’s up and down. You’re so happy for the young guys who make it. You’re devastated for the seniors who put so much time in and don’t make it.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and firstname.lastname@example.org.