DENVER — Grand Junction turned back the clock Saturday night at Pepsi Center.
The Tigers posted 151.5 teams points to nip Pomona’s 146 team points to win the Class 5A wrestling state championship title.
The Tigers edged two-time defending 5A state team champion Pomona for the first state wrestling team title for Grand Junction since 1994. It’s the ninth wrestling team title for the program.
“I’m more excited for our team title that we just got,” Grand Junction senior Josiah Rider said after winning his third individual title. “I’m really excited.”
Grand Junction was a powerhouse winning four of those team titles from 1963-1968.
Grand Junction took five wrestlers — sophomore Dawson Collins (106), senior Dylan Martinez (145), Rider (152), senior Seth Latham (182) and junior Hunter Tobiasson (220) — to the title bouts Saturday night at Pepsi Center. Collins and Rider came away with individual titles to push past the Panthers.
Collins looked to have lost his title match when Castle View junior Adrian Marquez was awarded a 2-point takedown in first overtime period. However, after both referees discussed the situation the takedown was waved off.
“In overtime when they gave him (Marquez) the two I didn’t know what to do,” Collins said. “Part of me wanted to breakdown and cry. Part of me wanted to believe it wasn’t two. When they waved the two off I was overwhelmed.”
The sophomore eventually took a 6-5 victory to post four key team points that Grand Junction needed to win the team title. The Tigers had a total of seven wrestlers place on the podium. Freshman Kieran Thompson placed 6th at 106 and junior Jay Skalecki took 3rd at 170.
“It was a big deal,” Rider said of the win by Collins at 113. “My heart was sinking when it looked like he had lost. After he won that I knew we were going to win the team title.”
The Panthers had four — sophomore Wyatt Yapoujian (106), junior Justin Pacheco (120), junior Theorius Robison (132) and junior Colton Yapoujian (138) — in the finals.
“Credit to Grand Junction. They had a better tournament that us this week,” Colton Yapoujian said after becoming a 2-time state champion after a 5-4 victory. “We aren’t going to make excuses. We are going to get back in the (wrestling) room and try to start a new streak next year.”
Robison won his third state title with a narrow 3-2 victory. Pomona also placed a total of seven. Freshman Franklin Cruz placed 4th at 152, along with seniors Doug Mills (220) and Brandon Hodge (285) both finishing 5th.
Pomona — 5-time team champion — was attempting to win a third straight team title. The most impressive run in the largest classification since Ponderosa won eight straight 5A team titles from 2003-2010.
“We’ll definitely come back next year with some revenge to get that title back,” Robison said.
Heinselman wins match-up of state champs
The only 5A champion bout that featured a pair of returning state champions was at 120 pounds. Castle View senior Malik Heinselman (5A-106 state champ in 2017) faced Pomona junior Justin Pacheco (5A-113 state champ in 2017).
Heinselman held on for a 3-2 victory to finish off his prep wrestling career before heading off to Ohio State University to wrestler for the Buckeyes.
“I was feeling a little sluggish … I wish I could have scored more points,” Heinselman admitted. “But I came out on top. He (Pacheco) is a great competitor. I had to be on my game.”
Possible 4-time state champs on the horizon in 2019
Poudre senior Jacob Greenwood was able to etch his name into Colorado history becoming the 21st 4-time individual state champion.
A pair of juniors in Pomona’s Theorius Robison and Ponderosa’s Cohlton Schultz (285) won their third state titles Saturday. Robison and Schultz are now one state title away from joining wrestling royalty in Colorado in becoming 4-time state champions.
Robison will attempt to become Pomona’s first four-timer. The junior added a third individual wrestling title to go along with a 5A state football championship ring he earned this fall.
“I’m definitely ready for that attention,” Robison said of having the chance to join the 4-time state championship club. “With attention comes more publicity and I kind of like that to be honest. I just love the hype around everything.”
Robison will enter next season with a 103-5 career mark to go along with his three individual state titles while being apart of two 5A team champion titles and this year’s team runner-up trophy.
Schultz had no issue moving up from 220 to heavyweight this season. The junior and one of the top wrestlers in the nation finished 50-0 this season. He pinned Poudre senior Weston Mayer in 1:03 to finish the 5A state tournament.
“It sounds pretty good,” Schultz said about how it sounds to be going for a fourth state title next year. “It’s been a goal of mine since I was a little kid.”
He has a career mark of 142-2 while wrestling for the Mustangs.
“It’s been a goal of mine to be up there with the very best in the state and even the country,” Schultz said. “Every year just trying to take one more step toward that.”