Girls wrestlers got to share the stage with the boys for the first time at Ball Arena this season and Aurora’s contingent helped make it a spectacular debut.
Three of Aurora’s girls wrestling programs — Eaglecrest, Vista PEAK and newcomer Overland — earned representation on the 2021-22 Sentinel Colorado All-Aurora Girls Wrestling Team, which is based primarily on results from the state tournament.
Leading the way among the city group is the first wrestler from a girls program to win a state championship in the sport when it was in the pilot stages or in two years of sanctioning and that is Eaglecrest junior Blythe Cayko, the 185-pound state winner.
Cayko placed fifth as a freshman when the final state tournament of the pilot stage took place at Thornton High School and she moved up to third last season when the first sanctioned state tournament took place in Pueblo, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Extensive offseason work combined with the work of a variety of Eaglecrest coaches helped put Cayko in position for the dominating season she had in 2021-22. She finished the season 32-0 to join four others — Loveland’s Morgan Johnson (105), Pomona’s Persaeus Gomez and Desza Munson (118 & 147) and Jefferson’s Alina Antillon (136) — as undefeated girls state champions.
On top of that, all 32 of Cayko’s wins came via pin, including the one that clinched her state championship. She rolled over in a scramble with Calhan’s Taylor Knox — the 2021 state champion — and earned the win by fall to put the finishing touch on a season that also saw her earn All-American status as winner of the first Reno Tournament of Champions and also earn Centennial League Wrestler of the Year honors.
Coach Sparky Adair’s Eaglecrest team — a co-op of wrestlers from several schools in the Cherry Creek Schools system — had a total of seven state qualifiers and six of them earned All-Aurora spots, including another state placer in senior Savannah Smith, who ended up in sixth place at 111 pounds. Smith tied for the most matches of any Aurora qualifier at state (six) and won three of them by fall to finish the season 25-11.
The Raptors’ All-Aurora contingent also includes junior Kaiya Winbush (Cherokee Trail) at 136 pounds and sophomore Gianna Falise (Grandview) at 147 pounds. Each won a match at state and finished 16-12 and 25-11, respectively. Winbush’s season included a fifth-place finish in Reno, while Falise was part of the lone brother-sister state qualifying in Aurora this year as her brother, Angelo, made the 5A boys state tournament with Grandview.
Junior Caici Mitchell (118, 11-15) — who wrestled most of the season at 111, but bumped up for regionals when Smith dropped down and still managed to qualify — and senior Katrina Cervantes (127, 25-14) were state qualifiers who each lost their two state matches for Eaglecrest. Ssophomore Chasey Karabell takes the All-Aurora slot at 100 pounds despite not qualifying for state. She placed sixth at regionals and finished 16-9.
Vista PEAK — which was coached this season by Jakob Vargas — had two All-Aurora performers in senior Samiah Andrews (215 pounds) and junior Leilani Camaal (161).
Andrews qualified for state last year in the smaller field and she tied with Smith for the most mat time at Ball Arena this time as she wrestled six matches and went 4-2 to place fifth in her weight class. All four of Andrews’ wins —part of a 14-12 season — came by fall.
Camaal, who played football in the fall, finished 1-2 at state with both losses coming to the girls who placed fourth and sixth in her weight class. She was 19-13 for the season.
Overland had its own wrestling team for the first time season thanks to a push by senior Katelynn Czerpak and junior Vianca Mendoza, who both had wrestled with the Eaglecrest program previously.
Both won matches at the state tournament get coach Nikolette Garcia’s Trailblazers on the scoreboard and Czerpak went even further by winning three of her five matches to give the program its first state placer when she took fourth at 105 pounds.
Czerpak won her first two matches by fall to reach the semifinals and guarantee a podium spot.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2021-22 SENTINEL COLORADO ALL-AURORA GIRLS WRESTLING TEAM
100 pounds: Chasey Karabell, soph., Eaglecrest
105 pounds: Katelynn Czerpak, sr., Overland
111 pounds: Savannah Smith, sr., Eaglecrest
118 pounds: Caici Mitchell, jr., Eaglecrest
127 pounds: Katrina Cervantes, sr., Eaglecrest
136 pounds: Kaiya Winbush, jr., Eaglecrest
147 pounds: Gianna Falise, soph., Eaglecrest
161 pounds: Leilani Camaal, jr., Vista PEAK
185 pounds: Blythe Cayko, jr., Eaglecrest*
215 pounds: Samiah Andrews, sr., Vista PEAK
* — State champion
Honorable mention: Vianca Mendoza, jr., Overland; Echo Tremeear, fr., Eaglecrest
OTHER WINTER SPORTS 2021-22 SENTINEL COLORADO ALL-AURORA TEAMS
— Winter Sports All-Aurora 2021-22: Talent pool plenty deep on All-Aurora Boys Basketball Team
— Winter Sports All-Aurora 2021-22: Duo from state champion Grandview paces All-Aurora Girls Basketball Team
— Winter Sports All-Aurora 2021-22: Double-digit state placers appear on All-Aurora Boys Wrestling Team
— Winter Sports All-Aurora 2021-22: State champion Weber leads Regis Jesuit wave on All-Aurora Girls Swim Team
— Winter Sports All-Aurora 2021-22: Raiders, Bruins mix nicely on All-Aurora Ice Hockey Team