by David Tesitor
DENVER- La Veta’s Ron Ortivez fulfilled a lifetime goal last Saturday, wrestling on the final day of the State High School Tournament. He took third place in decisive fashion, defeating Gabe Lema of Burlington in 3:34 seconds.
Ortivez went after Lema, a senior with a 25-13 record, from the opening whistle with a two-point takedown, and then he maneuvered on top with a near pin fall. From there Ortivez was in constant control, leading 5-0 after the first. Ortivez stayed on the offensive, and, with six seconds left, he pinned Lema.
Ortivez was placed in the upper bracket to begin the tournament, which included the number two, four and five ranked wrestlers. In his semifinal match, Ortivez lost to Justin Smith of Paonia who was ranked two in the state. Ortivez took Smith to the limit and lost a 5-0 decision. Ortivez lost to Smith earlier this season by pin fall. In his first match in the consolation semifinals, Ortivez defeated William Lutz of Rocky Ford to earn the right to wrestle for third. Ortivez was aggressive in his attack, pinning his opponent.
For Ron, the victory was bittersweet. He was in a tough bracket and hoped to win championship gold this year, becoming the first La Veta wrestler to do so. This was his last trip to Denver, but the first time he advanced in the placement rounds. After the match he said, “I’m really happy and pleased with my performance, but at the same time kind of sad.” He is leaving behind a great wrestling career.