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Abraham Garcia stuns Vasquez; wins heavyweight regional title

Vasquez, Sanchez qualify for Huskies

Eagle Valley’s Abraham Garcia celebrates on the top step of the Class 4A Region 2 Wrestling Tournament heavyweight podium down in Colorado Springs. (Special to the Daily)

And your Class 4A Region 2 Wrestling Tournament heavyweight champion is … Eagle Valley’s Abraham Garcia.

Surprise.

Not only did Garcia pin Battle Mountain’s Jeremiah Vasquez at the 1:26 mark during the semifinals at the regional tournament at Discovery Canyon High School in Colorado Springs, but he and the rest of the Devils weren’t even meant to be here in the first place.



Change of plans

Just three days ago, Eagle Valley announced that it would skip the Region 2 Meet because of COVID-19. The Devils thought they were shutting down for good on Feb. 22 when it had a wrestler with the virus. Having been slapped with the 14-day mandatory quarantine for athletes with the actual virus or for being involved in contact tracing, Eagle Valley abruptly changed its plans on Thursday night when the Colorado Department of Public Health changed its rules on returning to play.

Once the CDPHE eliminated the 14-day quarantine for athletes in favor of a 10-day quarantine for student with the virus or a 7-day timeout for those involved in contact tracing — accompanied by a all clear from a coronavirus test — Eagle Valley became eligible again for regionals.



Devils coach Melvin Valdez got the news on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and stayed up until 2 a.m., trying to make arrangements. With the regional split over two days and the lower weights to 145 pounds being contested in full on Friday, that was too quick of a turnaround.

Valdez passed on that competition in favor of the heavier weights on Saturday. Five of Eagle Valley’s six seniors, the strength of the team, are all 152 or heavier. As for Bubba Heredia who was scheduled to wrestle at 145, Valdez moved him to 152 and the 145-pounder nearly ended up qualifying for state.

And so it was that heavyweight Garcia found himself in the semifinals against Vasquez, who took bronze last winter at heavyweight. The first time these two met back in February, Vasquez squeaked by Garcia in triple overtime, so Garcia winning isn’t an outrageous concept. A win by pin? Surprising.

Regardless, Garcia went on to pin Wheat Ridge’s Samuel Mondragon in the second period and got to see the beautiful view from the top step of the podium.

And, ironically by beating Mondragon, Garcia did a solid for Vasquez. Only two wrestlers per division from each region qualify for state this winter because of COVID-19. But if you finished third and had not met the wrestler in second place, a wrestle-back is required for the state berth.

Had Mondragon won the heavyweight crown, Garcia would have been second and had beaten Vasquez already, so the Battle Mountain senior would have been eliminated. By winning, Garcia handed Mondragon on a silver platter to Vasquez for the wrestle-back. Vasquez got the pin, the second state spot, and earned his third state tournament in as many years.

And regardless of allegiances, all local wrestling fans are rooting for the decider of the best-of-3 series in Pueblo at state.

“We’ll see if they make it that far,” Huskies coach Angelo Vasquez said. “The state tournament is a different animal. There’s no guarantees. If it does happen, it’s going to be fun. The rubber matches are always the fun ones.”

Anthony makes it

Battle Mountain’s Anthony Sanchez returned to state at 170 pounds. The Huskies senior won his first three matches by pin before falling to eventual champion, Discovery Canyon’s Dylan Ruane.

Sanchez bounced back to win his wrestle-back with Evergreen’s Gabe Benton to punch his ticket to Pueblo. Now a senior, Sanchez has qualified the last three years at 152, 160 and 170 pounds.

Given that Eagle Valley had been quarantined, hadn’t practiced in two weeks and had 24-hours notice that they could wrestle, the Devils did pretty well all things considered.

Heredia (up to 152) and Jason Morrison (160) both came within a wrestle-back of making state and Brian Garcia was close in fourth at 220 pounds.

For Battle Mountain, Marshall Jones took fourth at 182.


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