Eagle Valley wrestling finishes with two podiums | VailDaily.com

Eagle Valley wrestling finishes with two podiums

DENVER — Do you have any idea how good Smashburger tastes after training your rear end off for months?

"The first bite of that burger is amazing," Eagle Valley's Raul Lopez said.

Enjoy, fellas. You earned every greasy calorie.

Eagle Valley wrestling finished the 3A state meet with two on the podium on Saturday— Lopez earned third at 138 pounds and Noah Hermosillo was fourth at 132 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

And by the by, they're both juniors.

"We're pretty much already talking about next year," Devils coach Luke Cross said. "We're talking about what's next, training. These guys are nuts and I love it."

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Quite the comeback

Lopez had quite an exciting Saturday at state in many ways.

He beat Dolores Huerta's Christian Guerrero, a state placer last winter, 8-4, in a rather physical match to start the day. During said bout, Guerrero punched Lopez with the latter receiving a penalty point for the infraction.

"When he threw that, I said some things I probably shouldn't have," Lopez said.

The good news is that Lopez didn't let that rattle him. He kept on task and finished Guerrero.

Next up was Kyler Bailey, of Berthoud, in the third-place match. Lopez had beaten Bailey, 7-5, in Friday's quarterfinals. Cross described Saturday's rematch as "one of the most incredible" bouts he's seen. That's saying something since the coach is a state-placer himself in the day, and has been around the sport in some capacity as athlete or coach since the late 1990s.

Lopez was down 7-3 with precious little left on the clock. He got a takedown and two points of back time to force overtime. In the extra period, Lopez shot and got the hip toss for a takedown and the win.

"With 15 seconds left, I'm thinking, 'All right, we're not going to win the match. We're going to talk to him about battling back and accepting a loss,'" Cross said. "Now, we don't have to have that conversation."

Lopez, who finished the season 22-4, never thought he was out of the match.

"The thing that makes me mad the most when I'm watching matches and there's not much time left is when a wrestler (who is behind) doesn't do anything," Lopez said. "I didn't want that to be me."

Frustration and motivation

At 132 pounds, Hermosillo steamrolled Paul Cooksey, of Weld Central, 10-0, to make the third-place match.

There, he lost a heartbreaker to Dolores Huerta's Christopher Fasano, 4-3. Cross made it clear he wasn't happy with the officiating in that bout. Hermosillo, at the time, was understandably still a bit downbeat about the way his season ended.

With some separation, Hermosillo will see that a record of 41-9 and state podium is a darn good season.

Lopez put it well.

"You don't come here to finish third," Hermosillo's teammate said. "Everybody's goal is first."

Yet the disappointment is already burning a fire in Hermosillo.

"Let's just say, I can't wait for my next tournament," he said.

Pity the kid who lines up against Hermosillo in that one.

Again, both will be back on the mat next winter.

"It's awesome to still have on more year to get the ultimate goal," Hermosillo said.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.