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Wrestlers wearing red and gold singlets made their presence known as they captured individual honors and won the team title at the Dec. 2 Warrior Invitational Tournament at Arapahoe High School.
“This is a strong team that included a lot of veterans including state qualifiers and placers,” Norse Coach Brian Hufford said. “We are strong up and down the lineup but particularly strong at the lower weights. We feel this is a team that can represent Northglenn well and our goal is a top-10 finish with wrestlers on the awards podium at state.”
Terms like “take the arm,” “stand up now,” “move higher and pin him” along with other advice were heard from coaches and spectators throughout the day-long tournament as a couple hundred wrestlers competed in 14 weight classes. It was non-stop action most of the day with matches going on all four mats.
The tournament used a 16-wrestler, double-elimination format in each weight class in a sport that is an individual and team competition. Each wrestler battled to win the weight class championship. At the same time, every win earns the points needed for a school to win the tournament team title.
Northglenn got off to a great start as Dylan McChesney was second at 106 pounds while teammates Ricky Nava, 113 pounds, and Noah Vigil, 120-pounds, won their respective weight class championships.
Nava pinned all four opponents he faced while Vigil defeated four opponents with two technical falls, a major decision and a pin.
Norse wrestlers Angel Alvidrez took runner-up honors at 138 pounds and Trenton Suazo finished second at 220 pounds. Donaven Palacio rounded out the Norse top four finishers as he was third at 145 pounds.
The other eight Norse wrestlers didn’t place in the top four in their weight classes but seven of them won at least one match to add points to the total that Northglenn needed to win the team title.
Northglenn finished the tournament first team standings with 146 points, well ahead of second place Coronado that finished the night with 130.5 points. The Norse was the only local team in the tournament.
Caleb Leialoha wrestled at 160 pounds for Northglenn
“This is my fourth year on the varsity wrestling team,” the senior said. “I like to keep busy and compete and I also played football, ran track and swam. While I really like wrestling my favorite sport by far is football.”
He said he is quick on his feet and prides himself on his ability to escape. He said he is always looking to score points and he is looking to pin his opponent every time he is on the mat.
“Wrestling is a physical sport but it is also mentally challenging,” Leialoha said. “You have to keep your mind clear and plan your moves. If you are not mentally strong you won’t win many matches.”
The senior won his first match but lost in the second round of the championship bracket to eventual 160-pound champ Gabe Dinette of Lakewood.
Leialoha won two matches in the consolation bracket before losing in the bracket semifinals.
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