Cedaredge head wrestling coach Cutter Garrison estimates that last weekend's regional team title ended a three decades long championship drought.
The Bruins placed 13 wrestlers and scored 226 points to win the Class 2A Region 1 title Saturday at Delta High School, outscoring 14 other teams, including Paonia and Hotchkiss.
Cedaredge will take 11 wrestlers -- four freshmen, one sophomore, two juniors and four seniors -- to the Colorado High School Activities Association 82nd annual State Wrestling Tournament, which opens Thursday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Garrison credits hard work for the win. Now in his fourth year as head coach, "When I showed up at Cedaredge I looked up in the rafters and there was only two banners hanging up," said Garrison. While he couldn't recall the exact years, the banners date back to the Gunnison Valley League days. Whether it's been 32 years or 35, "It feels awesome," he said. "It has been a process. It's been a long time coming."
Four Bruins wrestled for first place. At 113 pounds, freshman Adrian Nieto (22-4) will be seeded third at state after winning his division in a 3-2 championship tiebreaker win over Harley Workman (25-8) of Norwood.
At 126, sophomore Sean Dale takes a 40-4 record and regional title into state, where he will be the No. 1 seed. As a freshman, Dale placed third in the region at 120 pounds, and fourth at state.
Senior Alex McCracken was runner up at 132 and will make his fourth state appearance after a 4-0 championship match loss to Hotchkiss. At 152, senior Colton Hoerr will make his third state appearance after a championship match loss to Paonia.
Also winning silver was freshman heavyweight Derek Sanchez (20-13), who was seeded second.
Where points were concerned, the third- and fifth-place matches were big for Cedaredge. Six Bruins wrestled for third place, with freshman Trey Geyer (120, 33-5), Jared Hulteen (160, 30-10), and Taj Van der Linde (220, 31-8) winning by fall, and Toby Waddell (182, 24-19) winning by a 3-1 decision over Paonia.
David Schipmann (138, 23-13) finished fourth, winning two consolation matches by fall.
At 106 pounds, Sam Campbell placed fifth. Campbell, a freshman with a 17-18 record, became the team's 11th qualifier on a wrestle back win by fall (4:40) over Mancos.
Junior Drew Markley (170, 21-21) and first-year senior Pedro Madaleno finished fifth. In one of the toughest brackets, sophomore Ryan Imhoff (145, 11-10) scored three points on a consolation win.
Cedaredge is ranked second in Class 2A, behind Rocky Ford. At state, everyone wants that shot at wrestling for the championship, and a few of his wrestlers have a real chance, said Garrison. But in reality, the back door is where a lot of points are scored and tournaments, including state, are won. "If we're going to make a run at it, it's going to be in the back door."
Garrison said he's very proud of all of his wrestler for sticking to the program. "We took a beating my first year," he said. (In 2014, 11 Bruins qualified for state, but none placed.) Through the seasons and during the summer, "We kind of just stuck to the grind and outworked (the competition), I think."
The result is a "very talented team, and very tough team," but Garrison continues to look at the program. "That's what it's all about," he said. "Thirty years from now I want them to say, 'Remember the program that that guy built?'
"And it starts with these 14 guys that wrestled today and yesterday."