PUEBLO – Levi Martin’s first season wrestling at the high school level ended the way that it began – with his arm raised up in victory at the center of the ring.
This time, he was state champion.
On the floor Friday at the Southwest Motors Events Center in Pueblo, Martin capped a sterling 2021 campaign with three emphatic victories in the 113 weight division in the 2A State Championships.
The pinnacle, a 12-4 major decision over Chris Hutchings of Buena Vista in the final, cemented the freshman’s 21-1 championship season.
Martin began the morning session with a quarterfinal win over Malachi Gallegos of Del Norte, controlling the match and comfortably outscoring the Tiger, 8-2. He spent even less time dispatching of Sedgwick County’s Marco Martinez in the semifinal, earning a pin with 22 seconds to spare in the opening period. The wins set up a meeting with Hutchings, where Martin again dictated the tempo early, pulling away for the victory and setting off a jubilant celebration for his Bluejays coaches, teammates and fans.
His performance joined two other podium finishes for the Bluejays in the championships.
Fellow first-year wrestler Dillon Eichner of Mancos rebounded from a quarterfinal defeat to begin a hard-fought journey through the consolation bracket. Eichner (10-5) picked up back-to-back wins against Beau Clouse of Merino and Waitley Sharon of Fowler to land a spot in the third-place match against the same wrestler who knocked him out of the winner’s bracket, Shawn Cordova of Dolores Huerta. Eichner ran out of steam and was unable to exact revenge against the senior Cordova, dropping the match, 14-4, and settling for fourth place in the 106 weight classification.
Bluejays senior Ty Everett also dropped his quarterfinal match, but quickly bounced back to pick up a consolation bracket victory over Xavier Mendoza of Dolores Huerta. Everett (18-5) battled valiantly in his subsequent two matches, but fell in both, including a 7-3 defeat at the hands of Richard Atencio of Sierra/Centennial to cap off his fine senior season with a sixth-place finish in the 138 division.
Mancos’ Colt Fury (17-5) wrapped up his outstanding Bluejays wrestling career with a pair of losses in the 182 weight class, dropping his final match against Pepper Rusher of Wiggins in the consolation bracket.
Panthers place two on the podium
Three M-CHS seniors took to the mat in their final high school matches in the 3A State Championships.
Headlining the day for the Panthers, senior Anthony Abeyta scored consecutive pins in the consolation bracket after his opening-round loss. Abeyta capped off his best state performance with a rematch of the regional title bout against Pagosa Springs’ Brae Bergdolt in the third-place match. The Pirate was able to edge Abeyta in another thriller, 4-2, giving the Panther a fourth-place finish in the 152 weight division.
Classmate Kael Buffington (20-4) picked up the lone quarterfinal victory for M-CHS on the day, dominating Devante Sisneros of Severance, 13-1, to advance to the semis. The Panther couldn’t keep the momentum going in his second match in the 106-pound division, dropping into the consolation bracket. Buffington capped his career with a victory over Brayden Bach of Holy Family, by an 8-2 decision, in the fifth-place match to stand on the podium in his first state tournament appearance.
Panthers senior Austin Featherman (17-2) concluded a final season for the orange-and-black, suffering his only two losses of the season, including a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat in the quarterfinals against Sterling’s Seth Marick.
Bayfield wrestler is thirdDylan Pickering, a senior at Bayfield High School, fought his way to two victories in the consolation bracket to place third at state in the 3A classification
Pickering’s quarterfinal opponent suffered an injury earlier in the week, so he received a bye directly into the semifinals of 3A state wrestling tournament.
That put him against Lamar’s Zane Rankin, the top seed in the 145-pound bracket, for his first match in a week. Pickering would lose a 7-2 decision, but the Wolverine fought his way to two victories in the consolation bracket to place third at state.
Sports editor John Livingston contributed to this article.
This article was reposted March 13 to correct that Dillon Eichner, who wrestles for Mancos High School, finished in fourth place.