3   +   6   =  

No. 1 Pomona wrestling putting the pieces together before state

ARVADA — Claiming the Class 5A Jeffco League wrestling title has been a regular occurrence for Pomona over the past 15 years.

The Panthers won nine straight conference crowns from 2005-2013. Pomona wrapped up its fourth league title Thursday night at Arvada West High School. The Panthers defeated rival A-West 60-22 to flex their dominance in 5A Jeffco.

“You always want to win this dual because you never want to lose to your rival,” said Pomona freshman Roman Cruz, who pinned Arvada West’s Anthony Stack in the third period to take the victory at 160 pounds. “It’s my first year in high school, but I’m pretty excited from watching these teams wrestle since I was six.”

Arvada West's Elijah Olson, left, and Pomona's Christian Bucholtz shake hands after Olson pinned Bucholtz in the first period. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

A-West actually prevented Pomona for even a longer league title streak. The Wildcats took back-to-back conference crowns in 2014 and 2015.

Pomona reeled off six straight wins to start the dual against A-West with Daniel Cardenas (126), Kenny Perez (132), Brandon Taylor (138), Gage Bernall (152) and Cruz (160) all picking up victories by fall or technical fall.

Senior Theorius Robison (145) took a win by forfeit with the Wildcats not having a wrestler at his weight class. Robison has dealt with injuries on the football field and wrestling mat this season. He is attempting to enter the select group of becoming a four-time individual state champ.

Only 21 Colorado wrestlers has accomplished that feat and he would becoming the first Pomona wrestler to do it.

The Panthers have been No. 1 in Tim Yount’s On the Mat rankings all season with some solid returning talent and a handful of promising freshmen. However, injuries has prevented Pomona from being a full-strength.

“We are doing good as a team, but we are still missing some pieces,” Cruz said.

Arvada West's Dylan Kruse, left, works on Pomona's Jacob Judd during Thursday conference dual. Kruse placed sixth at the state tournament last year at 113 pounds. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)

A new piece the Panthers this season was featured in the closest match of the night against A-West. Freshman Elijah Olguin faced A-West senior Mitchell Romero in the 106-pound match. Olguin is ranked No. 2 and Romero came in No. 4.

“It was a good match,” Olguin said after his 6-0 victory. “I did start off a little slow. I just have to work off the whistle quicker, but for the most part I felt good. There was high energy.”

Olguin was consistent scoring two points in each period. It was first meeting of the season between Olguin and Romero, who just missed placing at state last season.

“I just go through the same mindset as another other match,” Olguin said of facing another highly ranked wrestler. “You just have to stay composed. For me, I just stay focused on my technique and keeping my moves tight.”

A-West did take four individual wins during its senior night. Mike Kacay (170), Elijah Olson (195) and Justin Lepke (285) got victories at the heavier weights. Junior Dylan Kruse (113) got an impressive 13-1 victory over Pomona’s Jacob Judd.

“Going in I always have the mindset that I can beat anybody. I can’t be scare of anybody,” said Kruse, who is ranked No. 4 at 113 pounds. “I try not to look at what a kid has done or who he has beat. So far this season that has been working out for me.”

Kruse comes into the final few weeks before regionals (Feb. 15-16) and state (Feb. 21-23) with confidence after placing sixth at 113 pounds down at Pepsi Center. He also knows what needs to be done to make it higher on the podium.

“There is definitely a little more work I can get done,” Kruse said. “I need to get my stamina where I need it to be. I need to be out here running every day. I plan on using these next three weeks on getting that done and getting where I need to be.”

A-West and Pomona both travel to Grand Junction for the 5A Region 1 tournament at Fruita-Monument High School in two weeks.

Pomona's Brandon Taylor, top, finishes off a technical fall victory over Arvada West's David Lopez on Thursday night. The Panthers took a 60-22 team victory to wrap up a fourth straight Class 5A Jeffco League title. (Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Athletics)