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A 'true wrestler,' Church wins second Warrior Classic title

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Delta senior Logan Church joined an elite group of wrestlers Saturday night, winning his second heavyweight title at the 41st annual Warrior Classic wrestling tournament at Central High School in Grand Junction.

Church was the defending Warrior champion and was seeded first at the 42-team tournament. In the championship match Church pinned the No. 2 seed, Micah Smith of Douglas County. Smith had placed sixth at the 2016 Warrior and was third in Class 5A On the Mat rankings heading into the tournament.

Church was the sole wrestler from Delta County to win a Warrior title this year.

"He's a true wrestler," said head coach Clayton Curtis. "That's what comes first for him. He lives and breathes wrestling."

In November Church signed to wrestle for Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, where he'll compete in the Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.

The Warrior was the second tournament win this year for Church, who is now 15-0 and ranked first in Class 3A by On the Mat. Last February, Church took second at the state tournament and ended the season with a 42-3 record. His career record is now 95-15.

Church also placed first last season at the Tournament of Champions, held at the Western Park Complex in Vernal, Utah. After state Church went on to win the 18-and-under division at the Rocky Mountain Nationals.

Church started wrestling in peewees. "It's always been kind of natural," he said. He won a lot of matches in peewees, took a break for a few years, then returned to the mat his freshman year, taking his place on the junior varsity team while two-time state placer Marcus Garcia finished his career.

Coach Curtis, a three-time state champion from Alamosa, saw potential in him. His freshman year Church traveled to state with the team, and got a taste for winning. He gives a lot of credit to Garcia. "He kind of toughened me up," said Church. "He was just a monster out there. He's big and mean."

He also pushed Church to be a better wrestler. "Being his partner, I really had to choose either to quit the team or toughen up."

He chose the latter. His sophomore year Church placed sixth at state. As a junior he was seeded 12th at state and finished as the 3A state runner-up. This year he has his eye on the gold.

"He's a tough competitor and he's got goals," said Curtis.

He also wins a lot of matches by technical fall. "He wants to tech everybody," said Curtis. "He could go out there and pin some of these kids in the first minute, but really, how is that going to benefit him? He's trying to put in some mat time."

In getting to the championship match at the Warrior, "It's been a tech fall all the way through," said Church ahead of his match against Smith. "I'm just trying to get more experience, trying to get more gas in the tank. If I do end up with a third-period match I'll have enough gas to finish."

Four minutes, 26 seconds into his last Warrior match, Church pinned Smith.

In looking at other Warrior statistics, Church had the most technical falls in the least amount of time for the tournament, winning his first four matches by technical fall in a total of 13 minutes, 58 seconds.

Church also scored the fastest technical fall against Montrose, scoring 16 unanswered points in 1:57; and the third fastest technical fall time of 2:18.

Including his championship pin, Church was eighth in the category of most pins and technical falls in the least amount of time.

Church was also fourth in match points scored with 69.

Church is quick to give credit to his teammates, including workout partner Gauge Lockhart, a sophomore wrestling at 195. After practices, Church also gets time on the mat with assistant coach Kory Mills, a state runner-up for Delta in 2016. "Kory's been a big part of the picture with Church," said Curtis.

But it's Church's attitude that makes him a winner, said Curtis. "Winning is an attitude. He really believes he's going to do it this time," said Curtis.

In looking at where it will take him, "We're just excited for him," said Curtis.

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