DENVER – It was only fitting that during the first state wrestling tournament in nearly three decades that he hasn’t served as a head coach, Tom Deaguero received a huge ovation from a packed house Friday night at Pepsi Center.
The longtime Adams City coach, who handed the program off to nephews Jared and Joey this season, represented the Deaguero family as they received the Family Heritage Award from the Colorado Chapter of the National High School Wrestling Hall of Fame.
“Every year, no matter what kind of team we have … I look forward to this weekend every year, and this made it that much more special,” Tom said. “It was a thrill. It’s like feeling what the kids feel when they make it to the finals and get their hands raised.”
Once the semifinals got underway, Adams City did what it does best – it rocked on the wrestling mat. The Eagles advanced three wrestlers into Saturday’s night championship round, and are currently sitting in fourth place in the Class 5A team standings.
The name Deaguero is synonymous with Adams City wrestling. Tom and his nine siblings have been a big part of the Commerce City community for decades, and future generations have added to the legacy.
“They are Adams City wrestling,” said Eagles senior Nicholas Gonzales, who was one of the three individuals to reach the finals. “They have (family) from Tom … all the way down to little 2- and 3-year-olds, and next year they’re going to be wrestling in diapers.”
There hasn’t been really been a period in the last fifty years where a Deaguero wasn’t representing the family at Adams City High School.
“Since 1968, I think there might have been, I would guess no more than two intervals of time of not more than a year where there wasn’t a Deaguero there,” Tom said. “I’ve got a big family, five brothers and four sisters. There’s always been somebody there.”
The Deaguero family has always been well-represented at the state tournament as well. Joey was a three-time state champion and T.J. and Jared won two titles each.
On Saturday, Gavin Deaguero – T.J.’s son – gets his opportunity to add to that legacy. The senior scored a late takedown in the 5A 152-pound semifinals and held on for a 6-4 victory.
He’ll face two-time state champion Josiah Rider of Grand Junction.
“It’s a big deal. It puts some pressure on, but I’m willing to carry it,” Gavin said. “Do my absolute best and put my heart on the line for this match. I want it really bad.
“I’m ready. I want to carry on the legacy of the family.”
Gavin, Gonzales and senior Christian Rowell will each compete Saturday night in the championship finals. Jared said he couldn’t remember the last time that Adams City had three individuals make the finals.
“Honestly, this is one of the best programs we have in the state. Just the culture we have, it’s us,” Gonzales said. “No one knows where Adams City is, no one knows where we’re from, no one knows what we’ve done. Right now, right here is where we rep our city and we show them what’s up.”
A new generation
Tom led the high school program for 26 years before taking an assistant principal position this year. Jared and Joey, who both starred at Adams State – Jared won an NCAA Division II national championship for the Grizzlies – were eager to do their part for the family and the program.
“(Tom) started the youth program back in 1980 with his cousin, Ricky Sanchez. We wouldn’t have anything if it wasn’t for him,” Jared said. “It’s a little bittersweet, but at the same time he knew it was something I’ve been wanting for a long time.
“It’s been a good transition because he’s still in the room, and he’s still helping out.”
The wrestlers have been receptive to the change as well.
“Jared and Joey have always been there, even when my Grandpa was head coach,” Gavin said. “I feel like the reason that my Grandpa decided to hand it down to my uncles is because he saw they were ready.”
The future looks even brighter as the program continues to add depth from its youth program, and more Deagueros are on the way. Sophomore Joshua Deaguero reached the semifinals at 138 pounds, and could be on his way to placing for a second consecutive year. There are also family members currently at the middle-school level who will be at Adams City before too long.
There is a lot of pride in representing the name Deaguero, but it’s more than just a name – it’s about family and community.
“For us it’s all about representing our Grandpa Tony and our Grandma Francis,” Jared said of his grandparents, who raised 10 children. “That’s what it’s all about – respecting them, putting our best foot forward.
“Not only doing it on the mat but doing it off the mat too, representing our name and Adams City and Commerce City – everything, the best we can.”