Eagle Valley Devils wrestling bringing 10 to state
An’t it great …
Eagle Valley wrestling’s state qualifiers
106 pounds — Matthew Medina, soph., second place
113 — Luke Morrissey, jr., regional champ
120 — Ryder Bossow, jr., third place
126 — Lucas Comroe, soph., regional champion
152 — Noah Baldwin, jr., third place
170 — Davis Ward, jr., third place
182 — Marco Rodriguez, jr., fifth place, won wrestle-back
195 — Cody Ponce, soph., second place
220 — Rowan Sokup, jr., third place
285 — J.P. Velasco, sr., third place
ENGLEWOOD — So does Gypsum just shut down this weekend?
“Usually, when teams bring this many to state, they have storied traditions like Alamosa or Lamar,” Eagle Valley wrestling coach Luke Cross said. “When they qualify for state, the community shuts down and goes to state. I’ll probably have better words for it after I get some sleep. I didn’t sleep last night, nerves. It’s awesome.”
Hopefully, Cross and the Devils finally got some good shuteye because Eagle Valley is sending a whopping 10 wrestlers to the state tournament at the Pepsi Center after a stunning performance at the 3A Region 3 Meet on Saturday, Feb. 10, in Englewood.
Gypsum, it’s up to you whether to shutter the town and go to the state tourney in Denver Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 15-17.
“It just seemed like everyone was building on everyone else’s victories,” said junior Luke Morrissey, who won a regional title at 113 pounds. “It’s really cool.
Eagle Valley racked up 210 points at regionals. That point total usually wins a tournament. The Devils were third, behind Lamar and Moffat County, traditional wrestling powers.
Eagle Valley was in tough region, and stood toe-to-toe with some of the best in the state, a good omen for the Pepsi Center.
As for sending 10 to the big show, here’s some fun trivia. After Cross got some sleep, he hit the Eagle Valley wrestling record book. The Devils have only sent 10 wrestlers to state five times since 1966.
Twelve is the record in 2003.
Getting it rolling
Coach Cross challenged his team before the tournament to get off to quick start. With the lower weights leading off the meet, that put the heat Matthew Medina (106 pounds), Morrissey (113), Ryder Bossow (120) and Lucas Comroe (126).
“I told them we needed to rally around each other,” Cross said. “We’re building a snowball and we need to get this thing rolling.”
They met the challenge, all four qualifying for state.
As the tournament progressed, the Devils fed off each other and some interesting story lines emerged.
• Sophomore Cody Ponce has been wrestling only since he was an eighth-grader. He won his first varsity tournament at the Eagle Valley Invite in January. The 195-pounder took third at regionals and is going to state.
Youth is the theme of this bunch. Nine of the 10 Devils going to state are either sophomores or juniors. In that vein, congratulations to senior heavyweight J.P. Velasco for making state in his final season.
• Ryder Bossow is, perhaps, a sleeper qualifier. He started the season as a 126-pounder, which is not good if one wants to wrestle varsity. Comroe, who won the 126-pound division at regionals, has that spot locked down.
Bossow had to get down to 120, and once he got there, he took some losses this season against strong competition. His record didn’t look good at times, so, maybe, he was an underrated wrestler going into regionals.
He left Englewood with a third-place medal and state ticket.
“Ryder was a surprise for others,” Cross said. “We knew what he had.”
• Noah Baldwin (152 pounds) has been like the stock market during the last week — up, down and all over the place. Throughout the season, he had big wins, tight losses and matches where he was leading, only to be pinned.
“He peaked at this tournament and wrestled great,” Cross said.
• Eagle Valley had thrills and heartbreak simultaneously. Junior Marco Rodriguez finished fifth, the worst place at a wrestling tournament as four go to state, at 182 pounds. But he got a wrestle-back — if the fourth- and fifth-place wrestlers haven’t met previously in the tournament, they must meet on the mat — and he won.
On the other side of the coin, the Devils could have had 11 at state. Bailey Beckum (138) lost in the consolation semifinals, ending his state bid.
On to Denver
The Devils have two regional champions in Morrissey and Comroe. Regional winners become automatic state contenders, and these two are making return trips to state.
“I think it’s cool,” Morrissey said. “But my goal wasn’t to win regionals. It’s all about (this) week.”
Comroe is one of many Devils wrestlers who have had siblings in the program. Lucas follows his older brother Chris, who narrowly missed state on a few occasions.
“(Chris) wasn’t able to come watch last year. This year he’s coming,” Lucas said. “It’s hard for him because he didn’t get a chance and really wanted to go, but he loves that I’m pushing hard, representing the Comroe name.”
Different programs have different approaches to state-week practice. Eagle Valley’s is simple.
“We’ve always had the approach of ‘Why change of good thing,” Cross said. “If our practices got us here, why change? The good news is that with 10 guys going to state it’s going to seem like a normal practice.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.