Wrestling: Brown, Howshar take fourth as Aurora ups number of state placers

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Gateway's Deyaun Trueblood
Gateway freshman Deyaun Trueblood, right, accepts his sixth-place medal in the Class 5A 145-pound weight class at the state wrestling tournament on Feb. 23, 2013, at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Brandon Iwamoto/The Aurora Sentinel)

DENVER | Nine Aurora wrestlers came away with places from the Class 5A state wrestling tournament, four more than last year.

Ahead of the championship round that featured Regis Jesuit 195-pounder Grant Neal and Overland 220-pounder Amer Tipura going for state titles, seven Aurora wrestlers found their ways to the medal stand on Saturday at the Pepsi Center.

None of the seven won their final match, but Grandview senior 160-pounder Jordan Brown and Eaglecrest senior heavyweight Mike Howshar led the way with fourth-place finishes.

It was the second place for Howshar in three trips to state, as he improved two spots from last season’s sixth-place result at 285 pounds. Chaparral’s Dane Drimmer kept Howshar from a higher spot by pinning him early in the second period of the 3rd place match.

Brown was thrilled with his performance in his first trip to the state tournament, which ended with an 11-1 major decision loss to Legacy’s Connor Casaday, who beat him for the second time this season.

“I wrestled him (Casaday) earlier in the year and he came out with a different style and was more aggressive, so I wasn’t really ready for his offense,” said Brown, who finished 4-2 at state and 41-10 overall on the season. “My coach just told me go out and have fun, and I guess I did. He was a tough kid and he earned that third place.”

Still, Brown relished his place given how far behind he opened the season in conditioning after coming off football season. He worked hard to get back into wrestling shape and it eventually paid off in his performance at state, which included a 6-1 victory over Ponderosa’s Tanner Olson in the consolation semifinals in which he felt he had his “A” game.

“I pushed through every practice, every rep, doing anything I could do to try and get out there,” he said. “Senior year, I finally did it.”

Howshar believed he would make a big jump from his sixth-place showing a year ago and got himself into position by making it to the heavyweight semifinals. He ran into a hot wrestlers in that round, however, as Rocky Mountain’s Tony Martinez pinned him on his way to the state championship match. Howshar rebounded with a consolation semifinal victory to reach the 3rd-place match, which pitted him against Chaparral’s Dane Drimmer.

An even match for the first minute plus, Howshar got caught and Drimmer put his shoulders to the mat for a quick pin to end the match.

“He just got caught, it was one of those things,” Eaglecrest coach Dan Wrona said. “It’s pretty impressive to be a two-time placer

Overland senior 182-pounder Javier Alonso took fifth in his first state appearance and joined Tipura in giving the Trailblazers two placers — out of just three qualifiers — which matched Grandview for the most by any Aurora team.

Alonso didn’t get as high as he wanted to on the medal stand, but was glad he didn’t end up empty-handed from his prep wrestling career.

“Four years of hard work, at least I placed my senior year,” said Alonso, who was 3-3 at state — with two losses coming to Douglas County’s Jack Lindsay — and 40-10 on the season.”When you get down here, you are wrestling with the best of the best,” he added. “One mistake can cost you a match.”

Four underclassmen got their first look at the medal podium as well, including a pair of freshmen in Gateway 145-pounder Deyaun Trueblood and Grandview heavyweight Josh Vigil-Harrison, who ended up sixth at their respective weights.

Trueblood matched the spot his older brother, Brent Willis, took for Gateway in the same weight class in at the 2009 5A state tournament. He won his first two matches to reach the semifinals — including an upset of Ponderosa’s Torry Williams — where he ran into undefeated Jacob Trujillo of Grand Junction, who beat him 11-5 and went on to win the 145-pound state title.

Feeling ill going into the final day of the tournament, Trueblood lost in the consolation semifinals to a determined Williams and then couldn’t hold a late lead in a 9-8 loss to Fountain Fort-Carson’s Rashawn Bedford in the 5th-place match.

Nerves weren’t a problem for Trueblood and the ability is there, so he hopes to put it all together next season.

“I’m hoping to bring home a championship next year,” said Trueblood, who finished 39-11. “There were some matches here I don’t think I should have lost. You have to be ready to wrestle every one of them. Any little thing can put you down in points, so you have to be ready.”

Cherokee Trail junior 152-pounder Harley Korte and Smoky Hill junior 220-pounder Dexter Bess also had strong runs end with sixth-place results.

Bess — who watched former teammate Kirk Owens make it all the way to the heavyweight state championship match last season — finished 3-3 at state, but made huge strides in the last few weeks of the season and it showed against wrestlers he’d lost to recently.

Tipura pinned Bess when the two met at a Centennial League dual a few weeks ago, but Tipura needed overtime for a 4-2 victory when they faced off in the quarterfinals. Legacy’s Skyler McWee scored a 13-4 major decision victory over Bess a week earlier in the Region 1 championship match, but won a tight 4-3 decision in the rematch in the 220-pound fifth-place match.

“It was a good tournament; I’m glad I got here, I’m just ready for next year,” said Bess, who had a final record of 29-11. “I’m ready to at it again. I know the level I have to be at and how hard I have to wrestle to get here again. I feel really good about my season. Didn’t end up how I wanted it to, but I feel good about the progress I’ve made.”

Coach Jim Opperman said Bess benefited from working with Owens a year ago and should set a similar tone in the Smoky Hill wrestling room next season.

“Kirk made Dexter learn how to be a better wrestler and how to compete,” Opperman said. “He came down here as a junior with the expectations that he could win matches and place. We’ve been trying to stress in the room that you don’t have to be a senior to go to state or place at state. Kirk was one of the first one to go to state as a junior and now Dex has done it and he can do it twice.

“The room is evolving into some belief of what is possible.”

Korte wrestled his sophomore year on Cherokee Trail’s junior varsity, but made a strong run once he made varsity this season. He won a regional championship and coming in with the belief that he could win a state championship, he won his first two matches — including a 15-12 victory over nemesis Mason Harms of Cherry Creek — before he was stopped in the semifinals by Mountain Range’s Randy Boerner, the eventual state runner-up.

He lost his last two matches, including a 10-5 decision to Harms in the 152-pound 5th place match, to finish 34-14.

Vigil-Harrison said he didn’t expect to make state as a freshman, but he was glad to get the experience. He and fellow freshman state qualifier Xavier Cardenas at 113 pounds are part of a talented group of youngsters for coach Greg Maestas’ Grandview team, which should have back a third state qualifier last season in senior-to-be Jaime Cardenas.

All three won at least one match at state, with Vigil-Harrison recording three of them. Two of his losses came to current or former state champions, as he fell to Greeley West’s Austin Waterman in the quarterfinals and was pinned by last season’s heavyweight champion, Mountain Range’s Jorge Rodriguez, in the 5th-place match.

Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555

2013 CLASS 5A STATE WRESTLING TOURNAMENT

Saturday, Feb. 23 at Pepsi Center

AURORA THIRD-PLACE MATCHES

160 pounds: Connor Casaday (Legacy) maj. dec. JORDAN BROWN (GRANDVIEW), 11-1

285 pounds: Dane Drimmer (Chaparral) pinned MIKE HOWSHAR (EAGLECREST), 1:13

AURORA FIFTH-PLACE MATCHES

145 pounds: Rashawn Benford (Fountain-Fort Carson) dec. DEYAUN TRUEBLOOD (GATEWAY), 9-8

152 pounds: Mason Harms (Cherry Creek) dec. HARLEY KORTE (CHEROKEE TRAIL), 10-5

182 pounds: Ricky Mahan (Doherty) dec. JAVIER ALONSO (OVERLAND), 12-6

220 pounds: Skyler McWee (Legacy) dec. DEXTER BESS (SMOKY HILL), 4-3

285 pounds: Jorge Rodriguez (Mountain Range) pinned JOSH VIGIL-HARRISON (GRANDVIEW), 1:38