Prep update: Mesa Ridge's Cruz looks to defend wrestling title after tough regional loss

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Photo - Mesa Ridge wrestler Deric Cruz won his 195-lb division at Metros this weekend. JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE
Mesa Ridge wrestler Deric Cruz won his 195-lb division at Metros this weekend. JERILEE BENNETT, THE GAZETTE

Mesa Ridge's Cruz looks to defend title after tough regional loss

Defending state champ Deric Cruz has had a series of bumps in the road during his senior season, going 33-9.

But if anyone knows how to get hot in the state tournament, it's Cruz.

After losing in the region finals Saturday, Cruz will be a two seed in the 195-pound bracket at the state tournament this weekend. (Wrestlers are seeded 1-4 depending on their finish at regionals.)

He will face Pine Creek's Andrew Transtrum, a three seed, in the first round of the tournament Thursday at the Pepsi Center. If Cruz plans to get back to the finals he'll have do it as something of a dark horse - similar to the underdog role he embraced when he won gold in 2016.

"He's got to go do his thing," Mesa Ridge coach Rob Braaten said. "He's beaten some of the best guys in the state, so he's got to go do it and work his way back through."

The Grizzlies qualified eight wrestlers from 4A Region 4.

Air Academy junior eyeing state title

Jason Hanenberg heads into the state wrestling tournament with hopes of avenging his finals loss from last season.

Hanenberg won his region title in the 126 class Saturday, improving to 40-2. The junior's only two losses of the season have come to Greeley Central's Andrew Alirez, the wrestler who defeated him in the 120s championship last year.

"A state title is something that has been on his mind for a long time, probably since last year," Air Academy coach Nate Hill said. "It's definitely the goal he is after."

The Kadets qualified five wrestlers to the state tournament out of 4A Region 1.

Discovery Canyon hoping to bust brackets, find its next state champ

The Thunder have won at least one individual title in eight of their nine years as a program - a winning tradition first-year coach Marques Bravo hopes to keep alive despite not having a one seed in the state tournament.

"You want to have kids reach their full potential or some kids wrestle above their potential and where they're supposed to finish, and walk away with some individual titles," Bravo said. "That's something we always strive for."

It won't be easy.

Discovery Canyon qualified eight into the tournament out of 4A Region 1 after finishing runner-up in four weight classes.

Patrick Allis (106) and Nate Pastorello (220) both lost to an On The Mat No. 1 ranked wrestler, while Jared Turner (138) fell to defending champ Justin Davis of Pueblo County. They'll all start over Thursday.

"The slate is wiped clean," Bravo said, "everyone is 0-0."

Woodland Park snaps 62-game skid in league in boys' hoops

At last, it's over.

The Panthers put to rest four straight years of nothing but losing inside the Colorado Springs Metro League with a 56-50 win over Canon City on Friday.

The victory snapped a string of losses dating back to Jan. 25, 2013.

"We worked hard and created our own luck that night and we were fortunate enough to get a victory," Woodland Park coach John Paul Geniesse said. "To see the true jubilation and joy that our kids were able to experience was wonderful for them."

Skye Ciccarelli led the Panthers (6-16, 1-14) with 18 points, while Kodi Newsome added 10.

Woodland Park led by as many as 14 in the second half and held off a rally from Canon City (4-17, 4-10) in the final minutes.

With Geniesse at the helm, the Panthers jumped from one win in the past two seasons to six so far this year.

Geniesse credited his players for the turnaround, and in particular the leadership of senior Sam Levy, who will be honored during the team's Senior Night on Tuesday against Elizabeth.

"It's easy to turn against each other and second guess what's going on," Geniesse said, "but they never wavered from the process."