DENVER — Eaton and Valley earned a share of the team title at the Class 3A state wrestling championships — the first tie in state wrestling since 1992.
For two straight years, Eaton had "runner-up" labeled on it's wrestling program. This year, they took one step further to the elusive team title.
"The monkey is not completely off our back yet," Eaton coach Tony Mustari said. "We still have some work to do in the offseason to get better and fully take that team title home."
Eaton's Tanner True had one last chance to break the tie and vault his team into first place alone with his 285-pound division bout — and Valley could only watch.
"We wrestled our hearts out in every match we had," Valley coach Ruben Lucero said. "If it was meant to be, it was meant to be."
University's Emanuel Munoz-Alcala held on for the 3-2 decision over True, resulting in the two-way tie between Eaton and Valley.
"We told him, 'Worst case scenario, we have a split team title,'" Mustari said. "'Go out and let it go. Wrestle like you do every day in practice.' He wrestled from whistle to whistle and was always looking to score points — and that's all we can ask."
Jefferson placed third, while two-time defending champ Alamosa finished fifth.
Eaton's Ryan Dirksen kept his team in front of the team race with a last-second pin of Jefferson's Zander Condit.
"We had no idea we would be that far," Dirksen said after his match. "Knowing that now, it's amazing I could do that for my team."
Down to his last second and trailing 9-4, Dirksen had to go to work. He escaped a hold, then flipped Condit on his back for a pin as time expired. The judges gathered together and awarded Dirksen the win.
"I was just looking for a pin," Dirksen said. "I was thinking, 'Please, I know I pinned him.' Once you get out there it kind of all goes blurry, and if you have the right mindset, it's only you, the refs, and the mat."
With the pin, Dirksen put the Reds in first place for the time being.
"These guys responded to the call tremendously this weekend," Mustari said. "They come back and keep fighting, getting better every single time they step on the mat, and that's all we can ask of them."
Trailing in the team standings after Dirksen's pin, Valley's Jaziah Whaley held his team's title hopes in his hands ahead of his bout.
"Going into that match, my coaches came and told me a major decision gets us the lead," Whaley said. "That was the goal. Go out there and get the major."
Whaley completed his undefeated campaign and individual 160-pound title defense with a major decision vs. Tanner Baumgartner (Weld Central).
"It's unreal," Whaley said. "The goal coming into high school was four [titles]. Settle for the next best thing: two."
However, Whaley's flurry of points in the third period meant much more than an individual title. His major decision resulted in a temporary tie at the top of the team standings with Eaton.
And, after the last match of the night, that tie at the top became permanent.
Roberto Estrada (Weld Central) won by decision, 3-0, over Matthew Medina (Eagle Valley) to complete his undefeated season with a state title in the 106-pound division.
"I wrote down a goal at the beginning of the year," Estrada said. "State champ with a perfect season, and I did it tonight. Special night."
Jefferson's Angelo Lozado wrapped up a 6-1 decision against Alamosa's Davion Chavez to give life to the Saints' run at the 3A team title. This was Lozado's second individual title.
Isaiah Gamez (La Junta) was looking for a third individual title, but Brady Hankin (Woodland Park) held off Gamez for an 11-6 decision. Hankin won the 106-pound title in 2019.
Jacob Duran (Fort Lupton) edged Johnny Masopust (Florence) in a 4-3 decision for his second individual title.
Zane Rankin (Lamar) repeated as the 132-pound champion after a hard-fought 2-1 decision over Zach Marrero (Strasburg).
Isaiah Rios (Valley) defended his 138-pound title vs. Lucas Comroe (Eagle Valley). Rios' second individual title came off a clean 10-1 major decision.
Cameron Lucero (Pagosa Springs) put a stop to any chance Jefferson had at the team title. Lucero won a 2-0 decision vs. Nick Gallegos (Jefferson) for his second individual title.
Mac Copeland (Bennett) pinned Cole Gray (Woodland Park) at the 4:40 mark.
Cody DuBois (Bennett) joined Copeland, his teammate, as an individual champion. DuBois' major decision vs. Brian Paxton (Fort Morgan) solidified him as the 182-pound champion.
Nick Wellen (Brush) won by decision, 5-2, over Jeremiah Garcia (Platte Valley).
John Foutz (Bayfield) topped Cody Ponce (Eagle Valley) by decision, 4-1.