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Miners send three to State wrestling tournament today

Diaz, Felthager, and Armijo represent Trinidad in Denver

by David Tesitor

PUEBLO — There was some excitement, some disappointment and a few surprises for the Trinidad Miners at the district tournament last weekend as only three members of the team qualified for state. The tournament started off fast and swift on Friday afternoon as two Miners made the record book.

Brandon Harmen lost his opening round, losing to the #2 seed, Jake Hamilton of Colorado Springs Christian Academy in the fastest time of the tournament at 13 seconds.

In this earlier photo, Alberto Felthager gets quick pin over Ayden Altman of CSCA. It was deja vu all over again in Pueblo where he did the same in 40 seconds. Photo by David Tesitor

Alberto Felthager won his opening match over Carlos Chacon of Monte Vista in 14 seconds. His quarterfinal match took longer- 26 seconds. He beat Ayden Altman of CSCA. Through the first day Felthager held the tournament’s fastest pins in the least amount of time. As the day progressed, it appeared several wrestlers had a chance of a trip to the Big Show. After the smoke settled, only three survived.

Jesus Diaz, with a record of 20-8, was the only Miner to make it into the championship rounds. Diaz easily won his first two matches. In the quarterfinals he pinned Wyatt Hoeppner of La Junta in 1:33. The semifinal was won by another pin, this time over Julian Sandoval of Ft. Lupton at the 5:44 mark. On the finals, he met his toughest opponent, Keaton Green of Florence who entered the tournament ranked ninth in the state. Green pinned Diaz in 3:37. For Diaz to advance at state he must go through Branson Lewis of Eaton, ranked second in the state. He will then likely face the number one seed and #1 ranked wrestler, Mikinzie Klimper of Moffat County.

Trinidad Miner Jesus Diaz in earlier season action. Diaz qualified for State at the regional tournament in Pueblo and will face the best in the state this weekend in Denver. Photo by David Tesitor

Next to qualify was Felthager at 106 pounds who, though rated #2 in the state, placed a disappointing fourth. As noted earlier, he pinned his first two opponents in 40 seconds and suddenly became the man to beat. In his semifinal match, Brendan Johnston of The Classical Academy, ranked #4,won an 8-1 decision over Felthager. This was the first time the two met this season.

Felthager defeated Cruz Ortega of Jefferson in a 4-1 decision, but was disqualified in his match for third place to James Cordova of Sheridan. The disqualification came off a questionable call after Felthager executed a slam, landing Cordova on his neck/shoulder. The referee confirmed with Cordova if he was all right. The Sheridan coach filed a protest and Cordova, then ‘passed out’ claiming he was dropped on his head. Felthager was then disqualified.

A video tape has been sent by two different sources to CHSAA officials for review and a decision to either overturn the decision or to force Cordova out because of the concussion rule. As it stands now, the DQ cost Felthager a mid-bracket placement at state. Finishing fourth at region placed him in the top half of the bracket where he will face two-time state qualifier and the currently #1 ranked wrestler, Santana Hernandez of Weld. Should it be overturned, Felthager would become the third place Region seed and placed in the lower bracket which may ultimately pit the #1 and #2 wrestlers in the finals. That decision may not be available until the state tournament begins. In either case, the Hernandez-Felthager match-up is championship caliber.

Caleb Armijo, 220 pounds, was the last Miner to qualify, placing fourth. In the quarterfinals, Armijo pinned Jason Alexander of The Classical Academy in 3:56. Armijo controlled the match from the onset and got the win with four seconds remaining in the second period. Armijo lost the semifinal to Bennie Chacon of Centauri by fall in 2:54 sending him to the consolation rounds where he needed a win to advance. He got the win over Lorenzo Vasquez of Fr. Lupton. He then lost the match for third to Perrion Gray of Sheridan by a technical fall, 19-4. There was no opportunity for a wrestle back since Armijo defeated Vasquez earlier in the tournament. Armijo has come on strong this season and, despite his record, will be the dark horse at state. Then there was the disappointment. One Miner who qualified last year did not place in the top four and was shut out of state. At 120 pounds, Dylan Armijo placed fifth. Armijo won his quarterfinal match before losing to Josh Atencio by fall at 4:46. Armijo was in a position to challenge the fourth place finisher, but since Cruz Ortega of Jefferson had earlier beaten him, there was no wrestle back, thus shutting out Armijo from his second trip to state.

Caleb Armijo sizing up the competition in action earlier this season. At 220#, Armijo will represent Trinidad in Denver this weekend. Photo by David Tesitor

There were six Miners who were eliminated early from competition. The season came to an end for these fine athletes, but there is always hope for next year. Those wrestlers included 126# Daniel Rivilla who went 0-2. At 132# Chris Ryam was 0-2. At 138# Brendan Harmen went 0-2. At 145# Dillan Villa lost his quarterfinal bout to Brandon Buhr of Centauri by a 19-4 tech fall. He won his first consolation round match by pinning Angel Garcia of James Irwin in 3:52 only to be eliminated from the tournament after losing by fall to Tristan Diamond (Salida) in 3:16. At 160 pounds, Chance Weining went 0-2. The final Miner was Wyatt Weining at 182 pounds. His only win was a quick 29 second pin over Andex Bumba of Jefferson.