Antonio Segura had a dream that he would win a Class 5A state wrestling championship, even though many on the outside thought it was just a fantasy.
Not that the Regis Jesuit sophomore didn’t have the ability and talent to win a state title, but because his path was blocked by the presence of Pomona’s Theorius Robison, who was on the verge of history as he went for a fourth career state championship.
But what happened in Segura’s subconscious came to fruition Feb. 23 when he had his arm raised as the state’s 145-pound state winner.
“It feels good; I’ve dreamed about this, I literally dreamed about it,” Segura said in a back hallway at the Pepsi Center after his dramatic 2-1 win over Legacy’s Joey Joiner.
“I wanted to do it last year, but it didn’t work and then after that, I thought about it every day,” he added. “Since the first day we stepped on the mat for practice this season, I’ve thought about being a state champion.”
Segura and Grandview senior 138-pounder Fabian Santillan both finished as state champions as Aurora wrestlers went 2-for-3 in the finals — Cherokee Trail sophomore Sam Hart dropped the 220-pound title match — but while Santillan was expected to win his state title (a second straight), Segura’s first crown came as a bit of a surprise.
When the state bracket came out, Segura — who won a regional championship — ended up on the same side of the bracket as Robison, his club teammate who won 126 pounds in 2016 and at 132 pounds the last two seasons.
Segura lost in last season’s 132-pound quarterfinals, falling a step shy of facing Robison in the semifinals. But he got his chance this time when they ended up in the same half of the bracket.
Though he said his most memorable match of the tournament was his quarterfinal win over Grandview’s Matthew Frye because it put him further than last season, Segura had a very memorable one to come against Robison, who was trying to become one of four wrestlers in the tournament to become a four-time state champ.
The other three — Ponderosa’s Cohlton Schultz in 5A and Pueblo County’s Brendon Garcia, Greeley Central’s Andrew Alirez in 4A — accomplished the feat, but not Robison.
The match went to overtime in a 1-1 tie before Segura slipped out of Robison’s grasp, flipped him over and pinned him just before time expired to create an explosion from the large crowd in the Pepsi Center stands.
Regis Jesuit coach Brent Bieshaar told some of those close to the program that he thought Segura had a chance going into the match — especially because it was a semifinal instead of a championship match, where Robison thrives — and saw it happen right in front of him.
“That was a special, special time and Tony did something that was an amazing feat,” Bieshaar said. “It truly may be the upset of the year in all of high school wrestling.”
But with that victory, Segura put the pressure on himself to back it up and win the final match. That result was in doubt for much of the championship match against Joiner — who he beat by two points for the Region 4 title a week earlier — as he trailed 1-0 with just 27 seconds remaining.
Drawing on the practice Bieshaar put him through going against alumni Grant Neal (a two-time state champion) and Donovan Ronan, Segura got in on Joiner and scored what proved to be the winning takedown.
“I was confident going into the match, but I was really nervous and it kindof got to me,” Segura said. “In practice, Coach Bieshaar says ‘this is the last minute in the state finals and you have to score.’ We train for it all year.”
Segura’s victory also sets him up for the chance to become a three-time state champion, something only one wrestler — John Crowley — has accomplished in Regis Jesuit history. Crowley won titles in 2010, 2011 and 2012 to become the first three-time state champion from an Aurora school.
B.J. Sanchez (1993 and 1994) is the other multiple-time state champion for the program.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or email@example.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports