Wrestlers Hermosillo and Lopez back to state
GYPSUM — Teamwork in wrestling is a little different than most sports because teamwork is beating the snot out of your teammate.
Push your teammate in the wrestling room and good things will happen.
That’s the case for Eagle Valley’s Noah Hermosillo, a 132-pounder, and Raul Lopez, a 138-pounder, who are both bound for the 3A state tournament, which starts today at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Hermosillo qualified by repeating as a regional champion — last year he won at 120 pounds — while Lopez finished third at the Region 4 tournament last weekend in Montrose.
Both are juniors and both are going to the big show for the third time.
“I think it’s awesome,” Hermosillo said. “Since freshman year, we’ve been together in everything. Wherever he goes, I go.”
It’s not just talk.
Hermosillo said they had the best week of practice all season in preparation for the make-or-break regional tournament.
“Raul was back (from an injury in January),” Hermosillo said. “He was beating up on me and pushing me in the room. He pushed me when I needed it the most.”
Welcome back, Raul
Lopez won the Eagle Valley Invite early in January and all seemed well for him … until he hurt his back lifting weights.
He was out for nearly a month.
“It sucked,” Lopez said. “Having to watch my teammates on the mat, knowing that I’d do well, it wasn’t a good feeling.”
As Devils coach Luke Cross said earlier this season, he wanted to err on the side of caution with Lopez. Cross wrestled in his day and qualified for the Colorado state tournament. And the decision proved correct.
Lopez was a little rusty, but ground out a 6-3 win against Rifle’s Cary Ebler. Delta’s Shaun Stuts sent Lopez into the consolation bracket with a late pin.
But Lopez showed resilience, coming up with his own pin of Sheridan’s Diego Madrigal.
In the third-place match, Lopez went to overtime with Montezuma-Cortez’s Josh Ramos. In the extra 60-second session, Ramos led 3-2 and was on top of Lopez. Instead of going for the one-point escape and the tie, Lopez picked up the reverse, two points and the win.
Hermosillo looked like a defending regional champion last weekend. He won his four matches decisively.
Gunnison’s Dane Johnson went by the boards, 16-0. Hermosillo promptly pinned Cortez’s Jared Gray in the second round. He clinched state by taking out Steamboat Springs’ Dakota Thevt, 12-3, and wrapped the regional title and secured the No. 4 seed at state with an 11-2 decision against Issik Herod.
Hermosillo is locked into the cliche, but true approach of wresting “one match at a time” mentality. And there is wisdom in that going to the Pepsi Center this weekend.
As much as one tries to pretend that the state meet is just another meet, it isn’t.
Both Hermosillo and Lopez have been there and been understandably awestruck at the scene during their first two trips. They know what to expect in their third trip.
“It’s definitely the coolest feeling in the world,” Hermosillo said of the Pepsi Center. “There is nowhere else you get that feeling, but you can’t be like, ‘Oh, wow, I’m here.’ You have to take it as your home tournament or regionals — one match at a time. Otherwise, you’re going to let it get to you.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.