Castle Rock wrestling is back on top again.
The Rockets’ wrestling squad dominated its home mats on Saturday and took home the 1A Region III Tournament victory with 250.5 points. Connell came closest to upending the Rockets with 194.5 points.
Castle Rock qualified 13 wrestlers to next week’s Mat Classic, and had three regional champions.
The first came at 160 pounds, as Wayne Baker held off Connell’s Branden Chavez in a 5-2 decision.
“I started off a little slow; I was trying to feel him out,” Baker said. “But when it came down to it, I figured I had to do something a little extra. I had to think back a little harder to what coaches drilled into me.”
It jumpstarted a nice wave of Rockets’ champions, as Peyton Watts (182 pounds) and Nathan Halladay (195 pounds) won title matches shortly after, as the home crowd’s energy boomed through the confines of LeBaron Court.
“We have a great team, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Baker said. “Anything I can do to help out.”
Watts topped Warden’s Tyrone Mendez in a 9-6 decision, and earned his second straight Mat Classic appearance. He’ll enter as a champion this time, though.
“I wrestled the guy before and didn’t do my hottest, so I was a bit nervous,” Watts said. “But I was ready to come back and get some redemption.”
Halladay wrestled simultaneously with Watts, and against a familiar foe. King’s Way Christian’s Mike Garrison and Halladay have traded off the top ranking at 195 pounds all year.
The lengthy Garrison, who stands over 6-foot-6, poses a problem for the stouter Halladay. But this time, Halladay would emerge victorious with a 3-2 decision.
“Going into the match I knew it was going to be a tough close one,” Halladay said. “When it comes to wrestling Mike, it’s just about who gets the best trip or the lucky takedown.”
Castle Rock’s Ryan Marcil made the finals, but was pinned by Royal’s Dominic Martinez in the first round. Still, a nice contingent of wrestlers Tacoma-bound will please coach Joe Godinho, who saw his kids overcome plenty of adversity this season.
“They battled,” Godinho said. “Some of the older guys lost some early matches, and that can spiral, but the younger kids don’t know any better. It’s nice to have some freshmen and sophomore going to state.”
Also qualifying for the Mat Classic was Isaiah Kennedy (113, fourth), Ethan Erickson (120, fourth), Cameron Wason (132, third), Andrew Jones (138, third), Buddy Kayser (145, fourth), Coleman Darvell (152, fourth), Ryan Hurley (170, fourth), Stephen Todd (220, fourth) and Luke Sparks (285, fourth). Alternates include Jeran Keogh (132), Nate Myklebust (145) and Austin McQuilliams (152).
“It’s amazing we get so many people to experience this under the big dome,” Watts said.