Devils finish fourth at Delta Invitational
DELTA – Forget 4A. The best wrestling in the state might be in 2A, something the Eagle Valley wrestling team found out Saturday at the 10-team Delta Invitational.The Devils finished ahead of every 4A team in the field, including regional foes Rifle and Delta, but were still only fourth best at the end of the day with 104 1/2 points.The top three belonged to schools in a classification two notches down from Eagle Valley. Paonia took home the invite championship with 159 points, followed by Nucla with 131 1/2 and Meeker right behind with 129.”I was pleased that we did better than the other 4A teams, including the two from our league,” Devils coach Ron Beard said. “I’ll tell you, Meeker, Paonia and Nucla, they could compete at any level. I never really thought about worrying about those teams, but those are some great teams. They had some guys who could wrestle.”The Devils fourth-place finish at the invite came just one day after Eagle Valley wrestled Hotchkiss in its first dual meet of the season. The 3A Bulldogs won the dual, 45-26, but only because the Devils traveled a squad of eight and gave up five forfeits. Beard traveled the skeleton squad to both the dual and the Delta Invitational to let his junior varsity wrestlers compete at a JV tournament at Rifle Friday and Saturday.
On Saturday, with eight other teams in the fold, the Devils finished ahead of the Bulldogs.”I think we did great for only wrestling eight guys,” Beard said.Individual resultsSeniors Chris Best (145 pounds) and B.J. Jaramillo (103 pounds) both finished atop the podium at Saturday’s invite. Junior Chris Harvey was the only other grappler to make it to his final. Harvey ended up as the runner-up in the 160-pound weight class after he lost to Nucla’s Wade Garvey, who was voted the tournament’s outstanding wrestler.
Other strong showings were turned in by 140-pounder Mason Ewing who was third and 152-pounder Kylan Kottenstette who was fourth. Also of note, 112-pounder Jimmy Benavides did not place but beat the 3rd- and 4th-place wrestlers in his weight class.”B.J. is wrestling like a man on a mission,” Beard said. “Chris Best has really proven that he’s going to be a man to watch. I’m also really impressed with Kylan. He’s wrestling pretty well.”Friendly showdownNext up for the Devils are duals with Rifle and Palisade Thursday at Rifle, followed by the Warrior Classic Friday and Saturday at Grand Junction Central.
Against Palisade, Beard will be facing his former Fruita-Monument high school teammate and best friend, Brian Rush.”He called me last night to congratulate me on how well he thinks we’ve been doing,” Beard said. “I think it’s sincere. He wasn’t trying to set me up. He’s a modest guy. He was pumping me up, but I know he’s got some good wrestlers on his team. It should be fun.”Senior heavyweight Gabe Velasquez, who has been recovering from an injury up to this point, should be able to wrestle Thursday at Rifle and Friday and Saturday in Grand Junction.Staff Writer Nate Peterson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.