Eagle Valley wrestling gears up for regionals
State berths on the line
GYPSUM — The coach knows the postseason.
Before he was the wrestling coach at Eagle Valley, before he taught social studies, before he was married to his better half, Sarah, and a father of four, Luke Cross was a 112-pound wrestler who went to the state-wrestling tournament three times.
He finished fifth in 1999 and didn’t place in 2000.
“My head wasn’t in the right place, the things I thought about,” Cross said. “I thought a lot about negativity. You have to get rid of all the negative thought. … As a coach today, I try to stay positive.”
And it’s the hope that said mindset stays with Eagle Valley wrestling as it heads to Jefferson High School for the Class 3A Region 3 Wrestling tournament Friday and Saturday.
There, the Devils will try to qualify as many wrestlers as they can by finishing in the top four of the 13 of 14 weight classes.
Yes, onthemat.com has the Devils ranked No. 4 in the state, but No. 2 Eaton and No. 3 Jefferson are also at this tournament as well as highly regarded Elizabeth and Weld Central.
But, keeping it positive, the Devils see the upside of tough opponents in the regional tourney. If an Eagle Valley wrestler finishes ahead of another good wrestler this weekend and both make state, the Devil in question won’t have to face that opponent until the later rounds of state at the Pepsi Center Feb. 21-23.
“They learned last how the state bracket works,” Cross said. “If you’re first in your region, you face a fourth-place wrestler from another region. If you’re second, you get a third-place wrestler from another region.”
Eagle Valley has seven wrestlers who qualified for state last winter — Matthew Medina, Luke Morrissey, Lucas Comroe, Ryder Bossow, Noah Baldwin, Davis Ward and Cody Ponce
Noah Baldwin is traditionally a 152-pounder, but he’s moving to 160 this week. The reason is simple. Some weight classes are more difficult than others and 106, 113 and 152 would be called “groups of death,” were this a soccer tournament.
Ergo, Baldwin with his athleticism can go up a class and likely avoid a logjam. Eagle Valley will not field a wrestler at 152.
As for 106, well, Eagle Valley’s own Medina is one of the reasons that class is so tough. He enters as onthemat.com’s No. 5-ranked wrestler in all of 3A.
Meanwhile, 113 pounds has been an open competition all season within the Eagle Valley wrestling room. Josh Boeke gets the nod this weekend.
Kevin Chavez, at 145, and Daniel Gallegos, at 170, are relative newcomers to the Devils’ lineup.
More is better?
The Devils have won three tournaments — the Eagle Valley Invite, the Mel Smith Husky Invitational and the Northglenn Norse Invite. Sure, winning regionals would be nice, but it’s not the ultimate goal.
That would be state.
To that end, this brings up an interesting question. Do more state qualifiers mean a better chance to win state? In theory, the more wrestlers at the Pepsi Center mean more opportunities to score points.
But hypothetically, if a team qualifies 14 fourth-place finishers, that’s great, but each wrestler is going to be facing a regional champion in the first round and not have a tremendous chance of advancing through the double-elimination tournament.
Would seven regional champions, each automatically earning a top-four seed at state, be more effectively positioned to go deep into the weekend at state be better?
“Obviously, the bigger picture is to win state, and winning regionals is one step toward the state title,” Cross said. “We’re fully aware that winning regionals in no guarantee to doing well at state. You can have 12 kids at state and look good to win state or you can have five or six really good wrestlers and do well at state. It’s about powerful individuals.”
And the coach is positive about that.