DENVER — Pomona left no doubt when it comes to the Class 5A state wrestling team title.
"I'll tell you what. It was fun," Pomona coach Sam Federico said. "Man our kids wrestled really hard."
The Panthers led from start to finish during the 3-day tournament at Pepsi Center racking up 198.5 points. Rocky Mountain finished second with 110.5 points.
“You can call this a dynasty for sure,” Pomona sophomore Daniel Cardenas said after he pinned Poudre senior Dean Noble in the second period in the 138-pound final. “We have more generations coming too. Pomona isn’t going anywhere.”
Federico had an impressive total of 10 wrestlers take the podium Saturday night. Maybe even more remarkable is the amount of underclassmen that walked away with medals, only heavyweight Christian Buchholz is a senior.
Buchholz was in interesting story. He just moved up from 220 pounds to heavyweight before regionals and placed third at state.
“Our coaching staff doesn't just consist of the five or six guys you see here. It's our youth coaches. It's our parents," Federico said. "It's not a team. It's a program. That is what we've build. It's fun."
Juniors Gage Bernall (160 pounds) and Franklin Cruz (195), along with Cardenas (138) and freshman Jakob Romero (126) were the four Panthers to make the championship matches.
“I have high expectations for myself and for this whole tournament,” Cardenas said. “Everything went as planned.”
It was a battle of returning state champions between Cruz and Rocky Mountain senior Alec Hargreaves for the 195-pound title. Cruz took a 5-1 victory.
Cardenas also became a two-time state champion with his victory. The Pomona sophomore is halfway to the coveted 4-time state champion club that grew by four members on Saturday night.
“Every time I see one of my buddies does it, it looks so cool,” Cardenas said of halfway to winning four individual state titles. “That’s one of my goals, to be a 4-timer.”
Monarch junior Vince Cornella also took another step toward a historic fourth individual title. Cornella, who has verbally committed to Cornell University back in September, won his third state championship with the win over Romero at 126 pounds.
It prevented Pomona from winning four individual state titles.
“It was a tough one,” Cornella said after his 15-0 technical fall. “He (Romero) is a talented young guy. I’m sure I’ll see him again next year. He made me work for it.”
Cornella underwent shoulder surgery over the summer and was out for six months, but that didn’t slow down the junior who now has a career high school record of 117-9 over three seasons.
“Everything that he does is laser focused,” said Monarch coach Ezra Paddock, who has never coached a 4-time state champion. “He wants to be the best and really works to be that way. Not only at wrestling, but school, being a teammate and being a friend.”
Corenella has a number of plans, including wrestling at the national level and a trip to Russia before getting ready for his senior year. Zeroing in on that fourth state title is on his mind.
“It would mean a lot,” Cornella said. “I’ve been coming to this state tournament since I was a young kid and I’ve got to see my buddies accomplish it — Jacob Greenwood, Andrew Alirez and Cohlton Schultz — I’ve grown up with all those and even some of the guys who are going for it tonight. It would be cool to join them.”
Brighton junior Kenny Salias (113), Grand Junction senior Dawson Collins (120) and Regis junior Antonio Segura (145) grabbed their second state titles with victories Saturday night.
Doherty senior Tyson Beauperthuy (170) and Cherokee Trail junior Sam Hart (220) were able to complete their undefeated seasons capped off with state titles. Beauperthuy finished with a perfect 40-0 record and Hart completed a 38-0 mark.
Columbine captured a pair of individual titles with juniors Jake Forbes (182) and Zach Schraeder (285) combining to go 8-0 as the lone two Rebels to qualifying to state.