Overland junior Ryan Hensley took just about the longest route possible to qualify for the Class 5A boys state wrestling tournament March 6 at the Region 3 tournament, as he wrestled six grueling matches and ended up winning his way into a chance to go to Pueblo for the March 13 tournament, which is decidedly smaller than usual due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Courtney Oakes/Sentinel Colorado)

At the end of a long, emotional week, suffering from cramps and down to his last chance, things looked bleak for Ryan Hensley March 6.

The Overland junior lost a one-point semifinal match at the Class 5A Region 3 boys wrestling tournament and his odds for being one of the two wrestlers out of 16 in his 160-pound bracket to make it to the state tournament were extremely, extremely long.

But Hensley — buoyed by the underlying emotion from the unexpected death of principal Aleshia Armour the prior weekend — absolutely refused to let go. Three one-point wins later, Hensley did the improbable, qualify for his second trip to the state tournament.

“It was tough, I didn’t really want to wrestle anymore; I was basically done, but I just had to push through it to get to state,” said Hensley, who had never wrestled more than five matches in a day.

The week started with a day away from practice as the entire school mourned the unexpected death of Armour over the weekend, which made for quiet practices for the entire week for coach Carter Krueger’s Trailblazers.

It made a week with everything at stake more difficult for Henley and his teammates.

“It was definitely difficult the first couple of days after she passed away,” Hensley said.

Hensley found a way to overcome the emotions and everything else to earn his coveted state spot.

“Ryan really wanted to go to state for our principal, so that showed his mental resiliency and how much he wanted it,” Krueger said.

Hensley (13-2) suffered his only loss during the regular season to Rangeview’s Jaylen Banister in a dual match in which he bumped up to 170 pounds and had a good lead before he lost by fall. The other came at the regional by a 4-3 score to Adams City’s Daniel Long.

Up first for Hensley in the state tournament is a formidable matchup with Pomona’s Gage Bernall, who is 19-0. Bernal is forecasted to win the state championship at 160 pounds according to projections by On The Mat, which would put Hensley in another battle on the consolation side of the bracket.

On The Mat expects Hensley to hang around again and place sixth.

Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports