PUEBLO — There was a moment that the state of Colorado crowning any state wrestling champion seemed far-fetched. For Vince Cornella, there was a point where he thought getting his shot at a fourth state championship was nothing more than a fantasy.
After pinning Ponderosa's Aidan Lenz in the Class 5A 138-pound championship match, reality still felt very much like a fantasy.
"It means a lot," he said. "I'm just grateful for everyone that put time into me. I can't thank them enough."
January turned out to be a trying month for most wrestlers, but especially for Cornella. As the state health department weighed the pros and cons of allowing high school kids to wrestle, Boulder County seemingly had its mind made up. Wrestling was not an option. No way. No how.
For six agonizing days other programs were keeping themselves prepared for an upcoming season. The kids in Boulder were left to fend for themselves. The CHSAA office wasn't going to punish them. They were going to follow state statue and declare those kids to be at a school without a wrestling program.
The options for Cornella would've been to wrestle for a school within the same district (which wasn't an option with the county shutting them all down) or wrestle for the school who's district he resides in.
If neither was an option, it then deferred to a neighboring district. But Cornella didn't want to win a title for another school. He wanted to finish what he started at Monarch. After all, a student at Peak to Peak, he was already at a school without a program and the Monarch team was family.
"It was a little scary," Cornella said. "I was talking with my coaches about where we might go if the season didn't happen for BVSD. I knew I'd be able to wrestle, but to be able to represent Monarch is a big deal."
Cornella's run at history began in 2018 when a close decision put him into the 106-pound championship and he grabbed a 6-4 sudden victory over Pomona's Wyatt Yapoujian. His second title was slightly easier to come by. Two pins and a major decision put him in the 113 championship and it took him just over a minute to pin Denver East's Armando Garcia
His third title, a 126-pound championship, came last year at Ball Arena where he grabbed a 15-0 technical fall victory over Pomona freshman Jakob Romero.
The fourth championship wasn't quite as dominant as his second, but it might serve as the most memorable given the uncertainty heading into the season and the hoops that he needed to jump through to complete the season.
"It goes beyond the people I know," he said. "It goes to the people who run this tournament, who fought for a state tournament and who fought for wrestling this year."
Not since Jacob Greenwood in 2018 has the four-time honor gone to just a single wrestler and Cornella didn't get the chance to do it in front of a capacity crowd at Ball Arena, but the effort that goes into the achievement is something that no one can take away from him. It doesn't matter where he won four or how he won four.
All that matters is that he did win four, becoming the 29th wrestler in state history to do so.
"It's a big deal regardless of how many people do it," Cornella said. "If five other guys were doing it or if it was just myself, I would've felt the same amount of joy."