Aurora’s top talent wasn’t confined to one spot during the 2016-17 wrestling season, as six programs had at least one wrestler earn a spot on the Aurora Sentinel All-Aurora Wrestling Team.
Based primarily on results from the Class 5A/4A state tournaments at the Pepsi Center, the All-Aurora team includes six wrestlers from Grandview in addition to three from Cherokee Trail, two from both Overland and Regis Jesuit and one apiece from Rangeview and Vista PEAK.
Grandview qualified a city-best eight wrestlers for the 5A state tournament and five of coach Ryan Budd’s qualifiers earned their way onto the medal podium at the conclusion of three days at the Pepsi Center.
Seniors Gabriel Baumgartner gave the program its first state championship in early a decade when he outlasted Brighton’s Tanner Aitken for a 4-2 overtime victory in the 285-pound state final to cap a 39-8 season. Baumgartner hadn’t even won a match in his first trip to state, but worked exhaustively on his offense and it helped him to place at the Reno Tournament of Champions and go on a run to win the state title.
Senior Tyler Ross battled through a significant knee injury to place third in 5A at 182 pounds and finished 38-8 overall (4-1 at the state tournament) despite his struggle with health. Senior Armando Santillan returned from a knee injury that kept him out for most of last season and piled up an Aurora and program-best 50 wins and claimed sixth at 132 pounds, while junior 113-pounder Giovani Federico also placed third in 5A with a 40-11 season.
Sophomore Dylan Ranieri placed sixth at 138 pounds in his state debut and nearly got higher on the podium after he nearly pinned state champion Jacob Greenwood of Poudre in the first round. Ranieri (25-17) rebounded from his first round loss with three straight pins — two over other Aurora wrestlers — to get to the placing round.
Grandview sophomore Fabian Santillan missed state due to injury, but the 120-pounder won the championship at the prestigious Reno Tournament of Champions and was a good bet to make the state championship match if healthy. He placed fourth in state as a freshman.
All three of All-Aurora performers for coach Jeff Buck’s Cherokee Trail team were 5A state runners-up in seniors Josh Richardson (160), Zeke Silva (195) and Max Gonzales (220), who all had a chance to be the program’s first-ever state champion.
Richardson had never qualified for the state tournament before, but went on an incredible run during regionals and the state tournament to cap a career in wrestling he only took up because he lost a bet. Richardson went on an upset-filled run to the state championship match, where he lost an 11-5 decision to Pomona’s Jason Romero to finish a memorable 38-12 season.
Ranked No. 2 in 5A 195 pounds for basically the entire season, Silva had a dominating season that ended with a battle against top-ranked Trent Schultz of Mountain Vista in the state final. Schultz ended up with a 3-1 victory in overtime, dealing Silva just his third loss of the season in 31 matches.
Gonzales posted his third top-three career finish and second straight runner-up result and it came at the hands of Cohl Schultz of Ponderosa. In the championship match rematch, Gonzales — a CSU-Pueblo-bound football player — managed to avoid getting pinned as he had been last season in a 7-0 loss to Schultz. He placed third as a sophomore before his back-to-back runner-up finishes.
In the first season under coach Trevor Griffin, Overland had four state qualifiers and half were Bradleys in sophomore Isaiah (120) and freshman Grant (106), who both won a match in their state debuts.
Isaiah Bradley claimed All-Centennial League first team honors and went on to make state for the first time, where he won his opening round match before suffering two losses to finish 32-10. Grant Bradley was Aurora’s lone state qualifier at 106 pounds and one of two Centennial League Newcomers of the Year won a match in the consolation bracket before he was eliminated to finish 29-6 overall.
Regis Jesuit senior Brian Hodes represented Aurora at the state tournament at 152 pounds and won a match in his only career state trip, while he was 31-17 overall for coach Brent Bieshaar’s Raiders. Junior Hayes Ward (22-8) — a multi-sport athlete — fell short of qualifying for the state tournament, but was Aurora’s highest regional placer at 170 pounds with a fifth-place result.
Rangeview senior Deron Solomon (145) made it back to the Pepsi Center after a two-year absence and he performed well in his second state trip with two wins and two losses, the last of which left him a win shy of placing at state. Solomon recorded 41 wins on the season as one of only three Aurora wrestlers to crack the 40-win mark.
Vista PEAK’s growing and improving program is represented on the All-Aurora team by junior Tristan Curtis, who was the lone Aurora wrestler in 5A or 4A to make state at 126 pounds. While pushing through a knee injury, Curtis dropped both of his matches in his state debut and finished 31-11.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or email@example.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel
2016-17 AURORA SENTINEL ALL-AURORA WRESTLING TEAM
106 pounds: Grant Bradley, Overland, fr.; 113 pounds: Giovani Federico, Grandview, jr. (5A sixth place); 120 pounds: Isaiah Bradley, Overland, soph./Fabian Santillan, Grandview, soph.; 126 pounds: Tristan Curtis, Vista PEAK, jr.; 132 pounds: Armando Santillan, Grandview, sr. (5A sixth place); 138 pounds: Dylan Ranieri, Grandview, soph. (5A sixth place); 145 pounds: Deron Solomon, Rangeview, sr.; 152 pounds: Brian Hodes, Regis Jesuit, sr.; 160 pounds: Josh Richardson, Cherokee Trail, sr. (5A state runner-up); 170 pounds: Hayes Ward, Regis Jesuit, jr.; 182 pounds: Tyler Ross, Grandview, sr. (5A third place); 195 pounds: Zeke Silva, Cherokee Trail, sr. (5A state runner-up); 220 pounds: Max Gonzales, Cherokee Trail, sr. (5A state runner-up); 285 pounds: Gabriel Baumgartner, Grandview, sr. (5A state champion)
113 pounds: Bryan Fierro, Rangeview, jr. & Dilan Esparza, Vista PEAK, sr.; 120 pounds: Octavio Lopez, Aurora Central, jr.; 132 pounds: David Rivera, Cherokee Trail, soph.; 138 pounds: Blake Thomas, Gateway, sr.; Serj Chavez, Hinkley, sr., Sean Kelly, Overland, sr. and Tyler Maccagnan, Eaglecrest, soph.; 145 pounds: Shem Brown, Grandview, sr.; 152 pounds: Grady Colgan, Grandview, jr.; 160 pounds: Brandon Minear, Regis Jesuit, sr.; 182 pounds: Jayden Smith, Vista PEAK, jr.; 195 pounds: Kaelin Chin, Overland, jr. (5A third place); 285 pounds: Ryan Campbell, Smoky Hill, sr. and Davione Marshall, Cherokee Trail, jr.