The Paonia High School wrestling team is going back to the familiar confines of the Pepsi Center in Denver for this weekend's state championship tournament.
Last year the Eagles saw their record of three consecutive state team titles snapped by Rocky Ford, which enters this year's tournament as the No. 1-ranked team in 2A.
Centauri is ranked No. 2, followed by Meeker, Hotchkiss, Norwood/Nucla and Paonia at No. 6.
Paonia will look to grab the crown back and will be led by sensational senior Bo Pipher, who is undefeated this season, wrestling in the 145-pound class.
Pipher has won every match this year by pinfall but for two, the second of which came in the title match of last weekend's 2A Region 1 championship tournament at the Brownson Arena in Grand Junction.
Pipher came from behind to win by a 4-2 decision over Hotchkiss grappler Austin Todd. The trio wrestled for the third time this season and could very well see each other again on the mats in Denver.
Pipher is seeking his third individual state title.
Along with Pipher, Paonia had another individual regional champion in freshman Sackett Chesnik at 126 pounds.
In the final, Chesnik defeated Hotchkiss wrestler Colton Hall by a 4-0 decision. Chesnik defeated the same wrestler 2-0 to win this year's title at the Screamin' Eagle tournament.
Paonia's third regional champion was Trevor Smith, who wrestled down a weight and took the title at 195 pounds. Smith pinned Hayden's Christian Carson in 52 seconds in the championship contest.
Joining Pipher, Ches-nik and Smith representing Paonia at the state tournament will be five other Eagles who all come off strong showings at regionals: Eli Etter (106 pounds), Garrett Beck (113), Clay Campbell (138), Jeramiah Hillman (170) and Jaden Miller (182).
The state tournament in Denver begins on Thursday and the finals are scheduled for Saturday night.
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