Western State Colorado University in Gunnison made a good decision when it signed Delta senior Logan Church to its wrestling program. Church will be the No. 1 seed when the Class 3A State Wrestling Championships open tomorrow at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Church, who has remained first in state On the Mat Rankings throughout the season, topped off a prefect 31-0 season Saturday, winning the Region 1 title at Alamosa on a win over second-ranked Preston Duran of Alamosa (26-7).
While he won by a major decision, the match tested his ability, said head coach Clayton Curtis. "But he's just an animal. He knows what he wants."
The win marked the first regional title for Church, and only the second match this season he didn't win by technical fall or fall.
Junior Aiden Barrios won the 170-pound division. A wrestler Curtis described as starting out slow and gaining momentum as the season progressed, in the championship match Barrios (24-12) upset top-seeded Travis Kerrigan (31-9) of Buena Vista in overtime.
"That was a great win," said Curtis. Barrios had lost to Kerrigan early in the season and knew it would be a tough match. He was down two in the final period and both wrestlers were on their feet, said Curtis. With about 2 seconds remaining, Barrios got a takedown, sending the match into overtime. "It was a nice little throw out of bounds," said Curtis, and Barrios managed to keep his toes on the mat.
Barrios won on a takedown. He wrestled well, said Curtis, but taking first "was the icing on the cake."
Senior Drake Horn was runner-up at 160 pounds after a loss to number one seeded Colton Castro (29-4) of Pagosa Springs. Horn wasn't at his best in the final match, said Curtis, but in looking at the state bracket, that may not be a bad thing. "I like where he's at in the bracket."
This is Horn's second state qualification. As a junior he placed third in the region.
At 195, sophomore Gauge Lockhart defeated three of four higher seeds to place third. His only loss was in quarterfinals to Zendon Bernal, the No. 1 seed from Alamosa. Lockhart ended the tournament on a 10-0 major decision over Basalt.
His first and last wins basically knocked the higher-seeded opponents out of the running for state, said Curtis. "That was a big accomplishment. He was a dark horse, a wild card for us."
Delta placed seven wrestlers and scored 85 points to place fifth in the region.
Freshman Ben Koch (120, 24-8) placed sixth. In semifinals, Koch was up by four in the third period and gave up a reversal/back point combo to send the match into overtime. Koch lost, 16-14.
For a freshman, "He competed," said Curtis.
Seniors Brendon Starr (145, 17-12) and Brandon Harper (152, 21-9) placed fifth. "I really thought they could make it," said Curtis. "Those were heartbreakers."