Rocky Ford wrestling takes second at regionals, sending 5 to state as Crowley County sends 4

Austin White
LA Junta Tribune

PUEBLO — Expectations are always high when it comes to Rocky Ford High School wrestling, no matter the age of the wrestlers.

And despite the lack of experience on the 2021 version of the Meloneers squad, they were still able to walk away from the Class 2A Region 2 tournament with some hardware. 

The Meloneers took second at the regional hosted by Dolores Huerta Preparatory High School in Pueblo on Friday and Saturday with 129.5 points, 69 points behind first-place Centauri. 

“I liked the way they came out and wrestled, they had good intensity and we had three champions and three other ones in the finals,” Rocky Ford coach Mike Jurney said. “Everybody was battling for that spot. We left a couple good kids home.” 

The three champions included Joe Zamora (120), Dezmon Reyes, (126) and Peyton Froman (285). Miguel Franco (106), Joziah Maestas (160) and Kevin Tillman (220) all made the finals but lost.

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Four of those six are underclassmen, something that Jurney believes shows the talent his up-and-coming crew has.

“The pressure gets to kids anyway and then you (have only two state spots) and some kids rise to it,” Jurney said. “There’s always a winner and a loser, but you can always learn something from a loss. 

“We feel good going into next week.” 

Reyes, a sophomore, might feel extra good about heading into state next week after picking up two wins in the regional title chase, one by tech fall and the other a pin in the final at 1 minute, 16 seconds. 

Zamora, also a sophomore, had a similar strong run with two pins and a 12-0 major decision in the title bout over Dolores Huerta’s Daniel Apodaca. 

Meanwhile the senior in Froman had the match of the tournament in the heavyweight final against Dolores Huerta’s Leo Banuelos. 

The match went to an ultimate tiebreaker where Froman picked up the regional crown thanks to an illegal hold by Banuelos as Froman was close to escaping and picking up the deciding point anyway.

“Peyton and that kid have wrestled probably half a dozen times and it’s always double overtime, they can’t take each other down,” Jurney said. “It was a typical match for them. … He did what he had to do, kept battling. I’m happy with him.” 

Froman will be joined by four other Meloneers as Tillman secured his state spot despite losing the final and Maestas won his wrestle back with a pin in six seconds. 

Franco lost his wrestle back and will miss state. Sophomore Benny Gonzales battled back through the consolation bracket before dropping his 113 wrestle back. 

For the Chargers up north from Crowley County, the regional was also a solid outing with four wrestlers heading to state and two regional crowns. 

Senior Adam Schulz, last year’s 2A, 170-pound state champion, looked the part of a champion with two pins en route to a title at 195 pounds. 

Sophomore Sam Parker joined Schulz atop the podium at 220 pounds a couple pins and a 4-2 decision over Rocky Ford’s Tillman in the title bout. 

Tach Brewer, a junior, and Aidan Holloran, a freshman, will also head back to Pueblo next week after making the regional title bouts at 145 pounds and 152 pounds, respectively. 

To see some non-seniors stepping up and make it to state was welcomed sight for Crowley County coach Roy Elliott. 

“It’s awesome,” Elliott said. “As a young team it just means that much more for the future. I hope there’s better things to come for them all.” 

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They all have a good idol to look toward in Schulz, who will be one of the favorites at 195 to win next week. 

With Schulz leading the way, Elliott knows his crew can accomplish quite a bit. 

“I expect a couple of them to place,” Elliott said. “Adam Schulz should be winning it, Tach Brewer should be close to winning it. Aidan Holloran and them, they have a chance, everybody does.

“If they wrestle like they did this weekend, they have a good chance.”

The Class 2A tournament will be held at the Southwest Motors Events Center in Pueblo, starting at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 12, with quarterfinal matches. 

Chieftain News Content Coach Austin White can be reached by email at awhite@chieftain.com or on Twitter at twitter.com/ajw_sports. Help support the Chieftain and get the latest news with a digital subscription.