Colorado state wrestling tournament’s final day will feature 2 girls for the first time

For the first time in Colorado history, a state wrestling tournament podium could see some serious girl power.

A pair of female wrestlers, Angel Rios of Valley and Jaslynn Gallegos of Skyview, have advanced to Saturday’s third round of consolations at the 2019 CHSAA state wrestling tourney — making it the first time, in the 84th year of the event, that more than one girl competitor was still in contention for a podium at the start of the tournament’s final day.

“When you’re looking at Jaslynn Gallegos and Angel Rios, you can’t say that they’re ‘good wrestlers for girls,’ ” CHSAA assistant commissioner Ernie Dererra told The Post. “Those two girls are good wrestlers. They didn’t get here by accident. And it’s not surprising to anybody who’s been following the sport that those two girls have put themselves in the positions to place.”

Rios defeated Casteus Combs of Sterling, 9-0, in the second round of consolations early Friday evening at the Pepsi Center — while a few mats and several yards away, Skyview’s Gallegos topped Alex Castaneda of Eaton, 9-5.

“It’s truly grown as a sport,” said Rios, who earlier this month became the first female wrestler in state history to win a regional. “But there’s not many girls that would compete with the boys, so I feel like it takes us to a different level.”

Rios is scheduled to face Brendan Johnston from The Classical Academy out of Colorado Springs on Saturday morning for the right to take on Trevor Torrez of Pagosa Springs. This winner of Rios-Johnston would be guaranteed no worse than a sixth-place finish.

No girl has ever placed in the Colorado state tournament, and Johnston has declined to wrestle Rios three times already — taking a forfeit on each occasion — this season, citing personal and religious reasons.

Rios, who defeated Sheridan’s James Cordova, 8-5, Friday morning in her first consolation test, said Johnston isn’t the “only (boy) that has forfeited on me before. I mean, it kind of sucks, but at the same time, it’s what they choose to do and I have no control over it.”

Johnston topped Elijah Kitchens of Estes Park, 19-7, in his opening consolation matchup early Friday evening. The senior had forfeited his first match Thursday against Gallegos, whom he also declined to wrestle. Johnston’s trip to the state tournament as a junior last winter also ended on a self-induced forfeit when he declined to wrestle Conifer’s Cayden Condit in the first round of the consolation bracket.

Like Rios, Gallegos had the option of competing in the postseason against either sex, and opted for the traditional tourney path.

“I’m pretty used to it,” Gallegos said. “I’ve always been recognized as this good girl wrestler. And I just want to be recognized as a good wrestler in general, you know? This is my time to prove that I’m just a wrestler.”

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