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Not your typical wrestling tournament

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Chatfield Invitational featured unique pairings

By Brian Forbes

Chaos is in the eye of the beholder.

That was certainly the case at the Chatfield Invitational wrestling tournament on Jan. 10.

 What was intended to be a standard tournament became a dual tournament with the ambitions of being concluded before 3 p.m.

It actually worked. But it was a flurry of matches, forfeits, yelling, pins and strange sights, such as junior varsity wrestlers filling in empty weights for other schools.

Take Chatfield JV grappler Alex Davis. He joined rival Columbine for the day – even hanging around with the Rebels for their post-tournament chat – and wrestled against a teammate, who he defeated via pinfall.

“Our Chatfield guy beat their Chatfield guy,” Rebels coach Coe Branch joked. “I told him to join our team.”

Brighton won the eight-team tournament as the Bulldogs went 5-0 in their dual matchups, including a victory over Class 3A stalwarts Valley – which hails from Gilcrest – in the final.

The Rebels went 3-2 and tied Bear Creek for third, while the host Chargers were 2-3 and tied with Arvada West for fifth.

The tournament was designed to give each grappler the maximum five matches allowed. Individual weight champions were crowned based upon their tournament records and points based upon how they won their matches.

Columbine’s freshman 103-pounder Cody Weitzel went 5-0 on the day to remain with just two losses this season, while Rebels’ 160-pound Jason Trojan and heavyweight Vincent Campton were also unbeaten in their weights.

“It’s a little different than a regular bracket, but it’s not really that hectic,” Weitzel said of the tournament.

Weitzel continues to roll having lost to the second- and third-ranked 103-pound wrestlers in Class 5A. Those losses have given him good fire and things to work on as he prepares for the stretch run in Jeffco, regionals and a probable berth in the state tournament.

“So far, except for a couple matches, all my matches have been really easy,” Weitzel said. “That will change.”

R.J. Gaither placed second in the 135-pound bracket after losing to Overland’s Joshua Christopher, who knocked Gaither out of state last season at the Pepsi Center.

Gaither admittedly didn’t wrestle his cleanest match against Christopher, who was able to use his speed to get out of trouble or score points as Gaither was setting up his moves.

The two burgeoning rivals battled hard but were all smiles afterwards.

“I don’t like people that go and hang their heads and cry about it,” Gaither said of losing. “I want to go back in there and do well, because nothing really matters until state … If I lose, I lose.”

Of course, Gaither realizes that he’s going to have to go through Christopher again if he wants to succeed on the highest level.

“If I want to do well at state, I’ve got to beat this guy,” Gaither said.

Chargers coach Jeff Holland felt his squad “got killed,” but only in the sense that the depleted Chargers do not match up well in the dual format.

The Chargers, who were forfeiting six weight classes, placed at the 125 weight class behind Erik Gaytan, who went 4-1 and took second.

Chatfield also got a strong performance from 119-pound sophomore Dakota Thayer, who placed second after suffering his first loss of the season by Valley’s standout. Thayer is 15-1 on the season.

Cory Witwer also placed second for the Chargers at 140.