The demon wrestling duo prepare for a journey to meet State 4A; Grand Valley leads a large contingent in Division 3A

Glenwood Springs High School Ray Rosenmerkel, left, and second Leo Meraz prepare to wrestle during wrestling practice on Tuesday before the pair head to the 4A State Wrestling Championships in Denver this weekend.
John Stroud/post independent

A first-place finish at the 4A Regional Wrestling Tournament last weekend is a testament to the hard work Glenwood Springs High School senior Ray Rosenmerkel put in to earn a trip to the state this week.

After a back injury sidelined him in his sophomore year, and with last year’s season upended by the pandemic, Rosenmerkel (22-7) was just looking to finish in the top four of his 138-pound category at regionals to qualify for state.

“I kept winning games and everything fell into place,” he said of the regional title, which gives him one of the top seeds in the state championships at the Ball Arena. from Denver.

“It was pretty awesome, and obviously it was pretty special,” said the dual-sport athlete who also played running back for the Demons football team.

As for the pursuit of the state championships, “I don’t take anything for granted. Everyone has earned their place, and these are all going to be tough games. I’m just excited to go,” Rosenmerkel said.

A total of 14 area wrestlers from five different schools have qualified for the 3A and 4A State Wrestling Championships, which will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Ball Arena in Denver.

Joining Rosenmerkel will be second Leo Meraz (17-1), who took third place at 132 pounds in regional qualifying at Broomfield.

“I feel pretty good about it,” Meraz said. “We both worked hard to get there, and it’s a different level of competition, of course.”

Demons sophomore wrestling head coach Josh Wilson acknowledged this hard work on the part of both wrestlers and their leadership on the team.

Meraz, also a Demons football player, had to defend himself from a broken leg suffered during the football season.

“It was a bit slower for him because of the recovery time he needed,” Wilson said. “He didn’t really step onto the mat until Christmas break, but once he did he really didn’t miss a beat.”

Rosenmerkel has been working for four years and that effort has paid off, Wilson said.

“He’s just come back and finally realizes what a good position is and makes sure we don’t fight in certain situations,” he said. “It’s been a year-long learning process for both of these wrestlers.”

Rosenmerkel added: “With Leo in particular, it’s really cool to finally be able to go to the show.”

Grand Valley sends 6 to the state

Meanwhile, Grand Valley High School senior Hayden Grice — the 3A regional champion at 285 pounds last weekend in Gunnison — is leading a six-wrestling Cardinals contingent to the state championships.

After placing sixth in sophomore and junior, Grice will be looking to step up to the podium. This is his fourth trip to the state, having qualified in each of his years at Grand Valley.

“I feel pretty good this year and I know I have the skills to do it,” Grice said Tuesday. “I just have to think about it and commit.”

Grice (10-8) earned the No. 2 seed in the heavyweight division’s field of 16 wrestlers.

“I know they’re all very good and have worked hard to get there,” he said. “You just have to stay focused and not let the big arena get into your head.”

It’s also his message to his five teammates who will be joining Grice on their first-ever trip to national wrestling competition.

Seniors Aydan Fisher (22-12, 152 lbs) and Brayden Harper (16-6, 220 lbs) will also represent the Cardinals; juniors Teagan Jacobs (33-3, 113 pounds) and Dominic Mendoza (26-7, 160 pounds); and freshman Jaysen Skeen (28-8, 106 pounds).

Also at the 3A Championships, there are two wrestlers each for Rifle, Coal Ridge, and Basalt.

For the Rifle Bears, senior Levi Miller (26-18) will wrestle at 160 pounds, and second Parker Miller (14-9) will wrestle at 138 pounds.

The Coal Ridge Titans send junior Angelo Perea (17-5) at 220 pounds and second Cooper Thurman (18-9) at 126 pounds.

And Basalt will be represented by juniors Brady Samuelson (25-6) at 182 pounds and Jose Munoz (18-8) at 285 pounds.

Senior Reporter/Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or [email protected]


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