Beautiful City

Five Colorado Springs area athletes win state wrestling championships

DENVER • Colorado Springs area wrestlers did little for those who can’t stand dramatic finishes.
Because on Saturday night, there were plenty of them.

For example, Discovery Canyon’s Patrick Allis won his 120-pound title match against Windsor’s Vance VomBaur in the Class 4A state tournament by pulling off a last-second escape to win 5-4. Then, there was Air Academy’s Jason Hanenberg, who beat Pueblo East’s Aaden Valdez with reversal with seconds left in their 132-pound match.

“That’s not what you want, but that’s the ending you want,” Allis said.

In his match, Allis went down 4-3 after VomBaur earned a takedown with seconds left in the final period. But then, Allis got points from a penalty and an escape in the final seconds, causing the crowd to roar.
Allis couldn’t help but get emotional in the hallways of the Pepsi Center, as he remember taking second in 2017.

“I’m so glad I came up on top,” he said.

Besides Mesa Ridge senior Mike True’s 285-pound match, which was the last weight class to compete Saturday, Colorado Springs had five wrestlers who won state titles at the Pepsi Center.

Along with Hanenberg and Allis, Mesa Ridge’s Elijah Valdez (152), The Classical Academy’s Nathan Johns (182) and Cheyenne Mountain’s Mike McFadden (138) won state titles.

Valdez was one of five Mesa Ridge wrestlers who qualified for the state tournament. They ended up finishing fourth behind Windsor, Pueblo County and Pueblo East, which all boasted at least 10 wrestlers.

The Classical Academy’s Nathan Johns thrusts a finger up for victory after escaping in overtime to score a point against Valley’s Josh Flanagan and win 3-2 at the finals of the State Wrestling Championship at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado on February 17, 2018. (Nadav Soroker, The Gazette)

The Classical Academy’s Nathan Johns, a state runner-up last year, beat Valley’s Josh Flanagan on Saturday night with a last-second reversal in the 182-pound match in 3A. He won 3-2.

Last year, Johns lost 3-2 — a defeat he used to motivate himself this season.

Allis, Johns and Valdez each redeemed themselves after losing in last year’s state title matches. McFadden, meanwhile, is a three-time state placer.

McFadden won his match 7-2 in extra time, and he celebrated with a flying kick on the mat.

“I wanted the match so bad,” he said soon after the match. “Last night, when I went to the hotel room, all I could think about was getting my hands raised. It happened, man. I didn’t let anything not let me get this right here.”

He added, “Nothing beats this moment right here.”

Meanwhile, Canon City’s Zac Hanenberg, Jason’s cousin, lost his match to Greeley Central’s Andrew Alirez at 145 pounds. He lost 19-8, a major decision.

Mesa Ridge’s Mike True lost his heavyweight match after he was pinned in the second round by Pueblo East’s Andy Garcia.

Just qualifying at the state tournament is enough for some wrestlers, but Discovery Canyon coach Marques Bravo said that winning it all is something that many secretly strive for.

“We don’t talk about winning state titles,” he said, “but it’s always on the back of our minds.”

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