Scouting state wrestling: Top area contenders in each weight class

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This week 109 area wrestlers will make the Pepsi Center home as they battle to bring a state championship back to the Pikes Peak region.

Of the 109 headed to Denver, 13 will compete in Class 2A, 12 in 3A, a staggering 68 area wrestlers will battle in 4A, and 16 in Class 5A.

Canon City and Cheyenne Mountain will be well represented in 4A as the two teams qualified nine wrestlers each. Doherty leads area teams in 5A with eight qualifiers.

Pine Creek, which qualified six wrestlers, returns Garrett Niel who will look for his second state title after winning the 182-pound crown in 2016. Last year Niel placed third after dropping down to 170.

Niel is the lone returning Pikes Peak region wrestler to win a state title, but here are a few that may change that this weekend.

Check out just a few of the wrestlers to watch this weekend:

CLASS 5A

126 pounds: Angel Flores, Coronado - Flores won the Colorado Springs Metro League title in January and enters the state tournament with a 40-7 record.

132: Dylan Owens-Hailey, Palmer - Palmer’s lone qualifier enters the state tournament at 33-6 and placed second in the Colorado Springs Metro championships. Owens-Hailey, a senior, did not qualify for last year’s state tournament.

138: Maverick Keigher, Doherty - Keigher started his season with three straight major tournament wins at 138, including his second straight Colorado Springs Metro championship. He’s fresh off a third-place finish at the 5A Region 3 tournament, and enters state 41-6.

145: Kj Kearns, Coronado - Kearns is yet another Colorado Springs Metro champion and also claimed the 5A Region 2 title last week. He enters the state tournament with a 41-4 record.

152: Zack Szostak, Doherty - Szostak is the area’s lone qualifier in 5A 152. The senior is 35-8 heading into the tournament and has two major tournament wins this season. He placed second at the 5A Region 3 tournament.

170: Kyle Stalder, Fountain-Fort Carson - Stadler placed second in his weight class at the Colorado Springs Metro championships for his best place of the regular season. He most recently placed fourth in the 5A Region 1 tournament and enters state with a 26-13 record.

195: Keaton Adams, Doherty - Adams placed fifth in the Colorado Springs Metro championships and enters state at 23-13.

220: Siandre Agaalii, Doherty - At 23-10, Agaalii is fresh off a fourth-place finish at the 5A Region 3 championships. He also placed fourth at the Colorado Springs Metro championships.

285: Jackson Webber, Doherty - Weber placed fourth at Colorado Springs Metro and 5A Region 3 as a heavyweight. His best finish of the year came in the season's first tournament where he placed second at Peyton. He is 15-17 heading into state.

CLASS 4A

106: Jett Strickenberger, Discovery Canyon - Strickenberger, a freshman, will travel to Pepsi Center for his first taste of state wrestling, but he’s anything but a novice. He has won two major tournaments so far this season including the Colorado Springs Metro championship and the Old Chicago NCCT and is 25-4 heading into state. He is fresh off a second-place finish at the 4A Region 4 tournament, falling to the state’s No. 1 seed Bobby Macias in a 4-2 decision.

113: Tanner Hunt, Lewis-Palmer - Hunt has the area’s best record among 113 qualifiers at 37-8. He has three tournament wins this season with first-place finishes at the Colorado Springs Metro championship, the Gary Daum Invitational and the Harold McCray Invite. He placed second at the 4A Region 4 tournament.

120: Patrick Allis, Discovery Canyon - Allis enters the state tournament at 29-3 fresh off a second-place finish at the 4A Region 4 tournament. He will face a familiar foe in the first round, facing Ian Diffendaffter (15-9) from Cheyenne Mountain. Allis also won the 120-pound title at the Colorado Springs Metro championships.

126: James Ruona, Canon City - At 38-7, Ruona has the area’s best record among the five local qualifiers at 126 pounds. He most recently claimed a tournament win at the CSML league championships and placed second at the 4A Region 3 tournament.

132: Jason Hanenberg, Air Academy - Hanenberg returns to the mat after placing fourth at last year’s state championships at 126 pounds. Since moving up to 132 for his senior year Hanenberg has racked up a 28-3 record, including a 4A Region 1 title, Colorado Springs Metro championship, and a first-place finish at the Bulldog Invitational. Hanenberg will face Lewis-Palmer’s Max Voshage (26-17) in the first round.

138: Mike McFadden, Cheyenne Mountain - After a second-place finish at state in the 132-pound weight class, McFadden returns after a successful season at 145, and then claimed the 138 title at the 4A Region 4 tournament to qualify for state in a lower weight class. He is 28-3 overall.

145: Zac Hanenberg, Canon City - Hanenberg enters the tournament 37-9 one year after placing sixth at the Pepsi Center at 145 pounds. He most recently won the CSML league tournament and placed second at the 4A Region 3 tourney.

152: Elijah Valdez, Mesa Ridge - Valdez enters state after a strong senior campaign at 38-1. He earned the top seed with the best record at 152 and has won all but one major tournament so far this season. Last year Valdez settled for second at 145 after similar regular-season success.

160: Taaron LaFrancis, Mitchell - LaFrancis, a freshman, has the best winning percentage of any area qualifier at 160 pounds. He won his first Colorado Springs Metro championship crown with a narrow 2-1 decision over Jack Mann of Doherty. If both make it past the first round, LaFrancis will take on another top qualifier, Brady Badwound (27-6) of Air Academy.

170: Uziel Rivera, Sand Creek - Rivera is one of the Scorpions' two state qualifiers and enters the state tournament with a 26-4 record. He placed third at the 4A Region 4 tournament and fifth at Colorado Springs Metro.

182: Garrett Niel, Pine Creek - Niel is back in an attempt to bring a state wrestling title back to the Pikes Peak region. Last year Niel placed third at 170, one year after winning the 182-pound crown. This year Niel is back at 182 and holds the second-best record in the bracket at 39-6. Niel won the 4A Region 4 tourney and the Colorado Springs Metro title.

195: Jared Volcic, Mesa Ridge - After not placing at the Old Chicago NCCT at the beginning of the season, Volcic stormed back for three major tournament victories. He’s fresh off a 4A Region 4 win and also claimed the 195-pound crown at the Frederick and Mullen invitationals. He is 33-6 heading into the state tournament.

220: Dominick Fini, Mesa Ridge - Fini holds the best record in the state at 220 pounds at 36-2, his only losses of the season coming from the hands of Deonte Bridges (20-2) of Cheyenne Mountain. Fini claimed five tournament victories this season, including the CSML league and 4A Region 4 title. Last year Fini fell in the 220 championship match.

285: Michael True, Mesa Ridge - Last season True settled for third in the heavyweight bracket at the state tournament, but this year he’s entering state with some momentum. He is 31-5 on the season and has won four straight tournament titles.

CLASS 3A

106: Brendan Johnston, The Classical Academy - The junior will travel to the Pepsi Center for the first time with a record of 33-6. He placed second at both the 3A Region 4 tourney and the CSML tournament. He placed fifth at Colorado Springs Metro.

113: Aidan Johnston, The Classical Academy - Johnston placed fourth at the 3A Region 4 tournament and is 27-9 heading into the state tournament and second at CSML.

132: Brad Conlin, Woodland Park - Conlin is 27-14 heading up to the state tournament as the only area qualifier at 3A 132. Conlin has one first-place tournament finish this year at the Vikings Invitational, and he placed fourth at 3A Region 4 and third at CSML.

138: Jake Hamilton, CSCS - As Colorado Springs Christian’s lone qualifier, Hamilton enters the tournament at 26-10. He most recently placed second at the 3A Region 4 tournament and third at the Tri-Peaks league tourney.

145: Jacob McCarley, Manitou Springs - McCarley travels to the state tournament as the Mustangs’ only qualifier with a 27-11 record. The junior placed eighth at the Colorado Springs Metro championships.

152: Cole Gray, Woodland Park - The sophomore claimed his first place in his second high school tournament appearance this year at the Vikings Invitational. He placed third at 3A Region 4 and CSML. He is 29-9 heading into the state tournament.

160: Liam Young, The Classical Academy - Young placed fourth at the Colorado Springs Metro championships and is 27-10 heading into the state tournament.

182: Nathan Johns, The Classical Academy - Johns enters the tournament with the second-best record in the state at 182 at 30-3. He has won back-to-back tournament championships leading up to states, claiming the 3A Region 4 crown and the CSML league title. Last year Johns placed second at the state tournament.

195: Daniel Borchert, The Classical Academy - At 20-10 Borchert is the only local qualifier at 195.

CLASS 2A

106: Iley Tuttle, Peyton - Tuttle, a freshman, earned his first trip to the state tournament with a 19-17 season record and a third-place finish at the 2A Region 4 tournament. He was also the Black Forest league champion at 106.

113: Lane Wilfong, Peyton - At 30-9 the sophomore will look to continue his successful season into the state tournament. Wilfong placed second at the 2A Region 4 tournament and the Black Forest league championships.

120: Riley Murr, Peyton - Like his teammate Tuttle, Murr will also have his first taste of the state tournament. Murr is 15-26 heading into the first round.

132: Colton Murray, Peyton - Murray, the two-time Black Forest league champion, enters his first state tournament with a 25-15 record. He missed last year’s mark after placing fifth at the 2A Region 4 tournament, but in 2018 he claimed fourth to squeeze into qualifying.

145: JD Hart, Peyton - Hart is fresh off a fourth-place finish at the 2A Region 4 tourney and a win at the Black Forest league championships and enters the state tournament at 27-4.

160: Drake Bowman, Peyton - Bowman is the only area qualifier at 160 pounds in Class 2A. He is 12-17.

182: Matthew Brant, Ellicott - Brant, a junior, is 19-15 heading into the state tournament.

195: Braydn Cowen, Ellicott - Cowen is fresh off a second-place finish at the 2A Region 4 tournament and a win at the Crowley County Charger invitational. He is 18-7 heading into the state tournament.

285: Ben McCaffrey, Ellicott - McCaffrey took second place at the 2A Region 4 tournament and is 24-4 leading up to the state tournament.

* All records and tournament results are according to trackwrestling.com.