Eagle Valley wrestling takes second at Warrior Classic
GRAND JUNCTION — By all accounts, finishing second at the Warrior Classic as a team in the small-school division is quite the accomplishment.
The Warrior attracts wrestlers from all over the Rocky Mountains and is a good measuring stick in December for potential in February’s regional and state tournaments.
“It’s a great showing,” Devils at coach Luke Cross said after Eagle Valley finished second to only Pagosa Springs. “But I believe we underperformed.”
Welcome to the world of higher expectations, Eagle Valley wrestling.
Onthemat.com has the Devils No. 7 in all of Class 3A. The same site has six different Devils ranked in their weight classes with two others who have been in those ranking earlier this season. Eagle Valley had three on the podium — Lucas Comroe (132 pounds), Luke Morrissey (120) and Cody Ponce (220) — with three others in the top eight — at last weekend’s Warrior Classic.
Yet coach Cross feels this team has some serious potential.
Tweaking the lineup
While it can be the loneliest sport contested — one person against another for six minutes — wrestling is a team sport. And with the Devils’ roster very crowded in lower weights, Comroe and some of the team’s other veterans are wrestling up a weight class to get more talent into the Eagle Valley lineup.
It seems to be working well. Comroe doesn’t seem to mind the extra six pounds by moving from 126 to 132. The junior is 16-1 and No. 1-ranked in 3A with his only loss coming at the Warrior in the finals to a two-time Utah state champion.
Like Comroe, Morrissey (15-3 at 120) is a two-time Colorado state qualifier. Ranked No. 3 in his division, he had a bitter experience in the semifinals at the Warrior, where a mistake turned a match he had under control into an overtime loss. File that under the categories of “learning experience” and “better now than in February.”
Ponce took third at 220. Perhaps, more importantly, he’s caught Cross’ attention by diving into the sport with his work ethic. Ponce is also 15-3 this season and No. 5 in the state at his weight.
With three wrestlers also in the top eight at Warrior, who are also ranked by onthemat.com — Matthew Medina (No. 5, 13-4, 106 pounds), Ryder Bossow (No. 6, 15-2, 138 pounds) and Kodi Raper (No. 12, 12-3, 126 pounds), the depth starts to show.
Freshman Raper was one of the reasons for the lineup juggling. He’s talented and needed a spot in the 14-man lineup. The Devils also have a really nice in-house competition at 113 pounds between junior Josh Boeke (7-3) and freshman Marcus Hermosillo (7-1). Whoever comes out of that battle could be a surprise for future opponents, according to Cross.
“Everyone shifted weights and we’re pretty light compared to other teams,” Cross said. “But from 112 to 138 pounds, we’re as tough as nails. (The weight change) doesn’t matter.)”
More to come
The onthemat.com rankings are sometimes unforgiving. Eagle Valley’s Noah Baldwin (152) and Davis Ward (182) have been in those rankings until rough weekends at the Warrior. They dropped out. These two both qualified for state last season and have plenty of tournaments to wrestle their way back into prominence.
Just as Eagle Valley may pop a surprise with its internal competition at 113, the team may also have some newcomers at 195 and heavyweight with the Garcia twins, Brian and Abraham, respectively.
Yet for all the potential that’s intriguing in December, there remains a lot of work. The Devils are headed into the holiday break, and striking the correct balance of family festivities and voluntary work is vital.
“We closed practice (Wednesday) sitting around a circle,” Cross said. “We still have a couple more practices this week. Next week, we can’t talk to you, see you or do anything for four days. You guys need to be on your own and be proactive. That might be a run in the freezing cold or going to rec center for some lifting. There were nodding heads around the circle.”
The Devils will continue their season after the break with the Eagle Valley Invitational on Jan. 5 in Gypsum.
Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.