BROOMFIELD – Devin Rothrock and his Arvada West teammates are more than ready to finally head back downtown.
Having worked all season toward the goal of a second consecutive state championship, the Wildcats get their opportunity in less than a week. Rothrock was one of six regional champions for Arvada West at the Class 5A Region 1 tournament Saturday at Legacy High School. The team qualified 12 individuals overall for the 5A state tourney, which gets underway Thursday at Pepsi Center in Denver.
Rothrock, who is looking to secure a second individual title of his own, took down Coronado’s Ryan Strabala with an 8-3 decision in the 220-pound final.
“I definitely have a lot of work to do this next week, so I’m definitely going to be training harder,” Rothrock said. “I’m very excited though just to try and finish off on a good note.”
Arvada West was the runaway Region 1 team champion, compiling 280.5 points. Coronado was second with 198 points, followed by Legacy (153), Northglenn (132) and Castle View (117.5).
The Wildcats won the 2014 state title by 87 points and return two champions in Rothrock and Payton Tawater.
“They know they’ve had a target on their back since last year, and it really doesn’t bother them,” A-West coach Ron Granieri said. “They handle it better than I do. They know it’s time to go to work.”
Cody Fatzinger (113 pounds), Bennie Pachello (138), Jimmy Rothwell (145), Tawater (152), Taylor Berquist (170) and Rothrock each captured regional titles. Zach Gomez (195) placed second, and four more Wildcats took third.
“What really makes these tournaments important is those third and fourth places, because they do go downtown,” Granieri said. “As a squad, the whole team did really well.”
Coronado will send eight wrestlers to state, with Jess Hankin (132) and Zeb Foster (195) each claiming regional titles. Hankin pinned Northglenn’s Michael Garcia and Foster edged Gomez 6-5.
Legacy finished with three regional champions on its way to third and qualified six for state. Junior Ryan Deakin, who went undefeated a year ago on his way to a first state championship, pinned his way through four matches this weekend to win the 126-pound title.
Deakin pinned Northglenn’s Rocky Nava with three seconds remaining in the first period in the finals.
“It felt good, and I think it’s always nice to get one step closer to the final end-of-season goals,” Deakin said. “Hopefully I’ll have a good state tournament.”
Matt Hebel added to the Lightning’s haul with a 4-0 decision at 182, and Tui Faamausili pinned his final two opponents at 285.
Castle View had a pair of regional champs in Malik Heinselman (106) and Bevan Haycock (160). Haycock entered the tournament as the fifth seed at 160 but pinned top-seeded Vincent Casados of Arvada West in the semifinals before edging Boulder’s Martin Selby, the second seed, 5-4.
Haycock led 3-0 going into the third period, but a Selby reversal and takedown, sandwiched around a Haycock escape, tied the match at 4-4. A late escape point put Haycock back on top, and the senior held off Selby for the final seconds to take the victory.
“You want your hand to get raised, and you just want to be up by one point,” he said. “That’s all that matters. When he took me down I just knew I had to get out from on bottom and then kind of hold him off.”
Horizon junior Jackson Huffman won the regional crown at 120 with a 7-5 overtime victory over Northglenn’s Maurisio Garcia. A late reversal and back points tied the match, and Huffman got a takedown in the extra period to win.