The Mountain Vista Wrestling team has undergone major positive changes in the past few years: employing and encouraging women wrestlers, consistently inviting prospective wrestlers — and most notably — hosting the regional competition on Feb. 15 for the first time. The tournament served as the competition that determined which wrestlers attended state.
“Hosting the region was pretty big,” Cartwright said. “It gave us a little bit of a name for ourselves, that’s been the goal. I have faith in the coaches and we have a pretty young team. We’ve realized we’re going to get bigger.”
Hosting the tournament was a big step forward for the relatively-small team, allowing Vista to grow their name in the wrestling community. Wrestling is one of the biggest Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) funded sports, so it would only be fitting that States would be held at one of the largest arenas in Colorado, the Pepsi Center. The Pepsi Center holds 18,007 seats, ready to hold the family and friends of the roughly 1,000 high school wrestlers. On Feb. 20, the family and friends of three Vista wrestlers, Adam Holton, 11, Adin Weaver, 12, and Aiden Cartwright, 10, sat in the front corner of the arena, ready to cheer on the boys. The trio qualified for State at the Regional tournament a week prior.
“I was pretty excited,” Cartwright said. “I knew my first round match (the wrestler) and I had lost previously in the season to him. I went out and won. I felt like I took what was rightfully mine.”
The 5A tournament kicked off at 6 p.m. that Thursday, and as the wrestlers waited for their moments, the tension built.
“I was working all season for this tournament,” Weaver said. “[Going in] I was kind of upset, given the fact that I had to wrestle a kid who was second in state. It was a frustrating thing, to get put with a really tough kid for the first round, but then I was like, well, I just want to make the most of this. It didn’t end up working out for me, but it was all right. I still got through and battled through it.”
While Weaver fell to his first round opponent on Thursday, Holton and Cartwright left the stadium victorious.
“Losing a first round match is always difficult for everyone,” Weaver said. “I mean, it kind of demotivate[s] you, for sure. You want to be on the front side of the bracket, and it’s easier to place on the front side than it is in the back side. You always have that thought of if I lose, it’s done. I’m out.”
Friday, however, saw a change in spirits for the senior and captain.
“I actually didn’t get great sleep that night, which was really unfortunate,” Weaver said. “I was tired at the beginning of the day and kind of sluggish, not looking forward to the day. I had a Pomona kid, who was really not that great. I didn’t wrestle him as good as I wanted to, but I still beat him. I guess that kind of motivated me to keep working through the backside of the bracket.”
On Friday, Holton and Cartwright were knocked out of the tournament. Weaver, who was still in after finding his motivation, was ready for a fight.
“I was working all season to be an All-State wrestler, and to get that accomplished was really cool,” Weaver said. “I mean, it’s sad. It’s my senior year, and [that means] no more wrestling forever. It was good to end on a high note, because I had the fifth and sixth match, and I didn’t lose it. It’s good to end with a win and against a kid that I really wanted to beat.”
For Weaver, this last match was not just about closing a chapter of his life, but remembering old ones. For his last match, Weaver was set to wrestle someone from his past.
“I would wrestle him every single weekend [in elementary school,]” Weaver said. “I would never beat him in elementary school, which was kind of unfortunate. I knew who he was, and I’m pretty sure he knew who I was because his dad talked to my dad prior to the match. It was interesting getting to rematch him.”
After defeating his opponent, Weaver placed fifth in State in his weight class. He scored over 100 takedowns and 20+ pins. The win, Weaver admits, was worth every ounce of struggle, pain, and endless time commitments.
“I’m going on a two-year mission right after high school,” Weaver said. “So when I get back, I’ll probably come back and help out with the wrestling team. Most of the freshman will be seniors, so I’ll be able to wrestle with them. I hope to make it back and help out.”