It’s incredibly hard to win a wrestling match.
Anyone who has ever strapped on a singlet would tell you that.
It’s even harder to win four straight matches at the state championship tournament — and even exponentially more difficult to string together enough wins as a team to bring home a championship trophy.
But as hard as it may be, someone’s gotta do it. With that being said, here are the Class 5A wrestlers who accomplished those difficult tasks in 2018 and forever carry the mantle of “state champion.”
Defending team champion: Grand Junction
The Tigers put together an impressive season and an even more impressive team performance to capture the Class 5A crown away from Pomona last year. Led by three-time champion Josiah Rider (now at North Carolina State) and sophomore state champ Dawson Collins, Grand Junction secured its ninth state wrestling championship in school history.
Defending Individual Champions
(Name, School, 2018 grade/weight)
- Vince Cornella, Monarch, fr./106
- Dawson Collins, Grand Junction, so./113
- Fabian Santillan, Grandview, jr./126
- Theorius Robison, Pomona, jr./132 (2017 so./132, 2016 fr./126)
- Cohlton Schultz, Ponderosa, jr./285 (2017 so./220, 2016 fr./220)
Robison is one of four wrestlers with a chance to secure a place in Colorado high school wrestling lore this season. The future Northern Colorado Bear is, from a technique standpoint, one of the smoothest in the game — which helped him to secure 3-2 wins in his last two state finals matches.
In the upper weights? what more can be said about Schultz that hasn’t been said already. The Cohl Train (as he refers to himself in his Twitter handle) has steamrolled the competition on his way to three straight state titles. The Arizona State commit, Cadet Greco-Roman World Champion, and Junior Greco-Roman World bronze medalist has compiled a 142-2 record in high school competition, with both losses coming to out-of-state opponents.
His longest match against in-state competition last season? That would be a one minute and 44 second win by fall against Rocky Ford’s Greg Garcia in the Top of the Rockies final. Yeah, he’s that good.
Other Returning Placewinners
These wrestlers also found the podium in 2018 and will be angling for that top spot this season.
(Name, school, 2018 grade, 2018 place)
- Wyatt Yapoujian, Pomona, so., 2nd
- Kenny Sailas, Brighton, fr., 3rd
- Armando Garcia, Denver East, fr., 4th
- Max Black, Douglas County, fr., 5th
- Kieran Thompson, Grand Junction, fr., 6th
- Adrian Marquez, Castle View, jr., 2nd
- Alejandro Santillan, Grandview, jr., 3rd
- Grant Bradley, Overland, jr., 4th
- Presley Madril, Broomfield, jr., 5th
- Dylan Kruse, Arvada West, so., 6th
- Justin Pacheco, Pomona, jr., 2nd
- Trey Johnson, Chaparral, 6th
- Angel Flores, Coronado, so., 3rd
- Taylor Vasquez, Fountain-Fort Carson, jr., 4th
- Alex Alvarez, Poudre, jr., 5th
- Joseph Enocksen, Bear Creek, jr., 6th
- Job Greenwood, Poudre, jr., 2nd
- Darren Green, Broomfield, so., 3rd
- Randy Myers, Castle View, fr., 5th
- Joshua Deaguero, Adams City, so., 5th
- KJ Kearns, Coronado, jr., 3rd
- Dakota Key, Legacy, so., 4th
- Dylan Ranieri, Grandview, jr., 5th
- Franklin Cruz, Pomona, fr., 4th
- Austin McFadden, Prairie View, jr., 5th
- Grady Funk, Legacy, so., 6th
- Jay Skalecki, Grand Junction, jr., 3rd
- Kai Blake, Cherry Creek, jr., 5th
No returning placers
- Alec Hargreaves, Rocky Mountain, so., 2nd
- Keegan Bailey, Fruita Monument, jr., 3rd
- Joe Renner, Grandview, so., 4th
- Bryant Walker, Broomfield, so., 6th
- Hunter Tobiasson, Grand Junction, jr., 2nd
- Roberto Lopez, Denver South, jr., 6th
No other returning placers
Notes and Miscellany
It’s worth noting that Pomona has another returning champion on its squad in senior Justin Pacheco, who won the crown at 113 pounds as a sophomore in 2017.
But the Panthers also lost a returning state champion in Colton Yapoujian, a two-time-title-winner and Cornell University commit who opted to begin his collegiate training a year early.
Hoping to fill that void will be Yapoujian’s younger brother, Wyatt, a two-time placer and last year’s 106-pound runner-up, as well as Daniel Cardenas — an incoming freshman who burst onto the scene by placing fifth at the prestigious Super 32 Challenge in his first unofficial/official high school competition.
Meanwhile, Mosha Schwartz has returned to Ponderosa after spending some time at Wyoming Seminary in Pennsylvania. Schwartz, who finished fourth at 106 pounds as a freshman, has also committed to the University of Northern Colorado to help round out a recruiting class that is chock-full of local talent.
Keep an eye out for Who’s Back previews for the other three classes (4A-3A-2A) in the coming days.