Multiple state wrestling champions called Aurora home in the 2013-14 season for the first time in six seasons.
Regis Jesuit senior Grant Neal capped an outstanding career with his second straight Class 5A state title, while Gateway sophomore Deyaun Trueblood set himself up for the future with his first crown.
The two state champions — as well as four other city wrestlers who placed after three days on the mats at the Pepsi Center — make up the 2013-14 Aurora Sentinel All-City Wrestling Team, which is based mostly on state results. Ten of Aurora’s 11 high schools had at least one wrestler qualify for state and nine of those 10 have at least one spot on the All-City Team.
Leading the way is Neal, who won his first state championship at 195 pounds last season and followed it up with an absolutely dominant senior season at 220 pounds to become the third multiple-time state winner in Regis Jesuit history.
During the regular season, Neal twice handled 4A No. 1 Evan Lancelot at big tournaments (Northern Colorado and Northglenn), won a slew of Most Outstanding Wrestler awards and capped a perfect 39-0 season with a victory over Smoky Hill senior Dexter Bess in the first all-Aurora state championship match maybe ever. The city was the class of the state in Neal’s weight class, as it also included Bess and Hinkley’s Max Carbajal, who placed third.
A sixth-place result at state in his freshman season stoked an already inferno-like internal fire for Trueblood, who wrestled at 152 and 160 pounds throughout the season before choosing to wrestle at 152 for regionals and state.
He suffered one of only three losses on the season to Arvada West’s Taylor Bergquist in the 5A Region 3 tournament final, but rebounded with four straight wins at state to become Gateway’s first state wrestling champion since 1993.
Wrestling smart and savvy, Trueblood dominated Fountain-Fort Carson’s Rashawn Benford 9-3 in the 152-pound championship match, which led to one of the most memorable celebrations of the tournament when Olys coach Steve Burns picked him up and ran a victory lap around the mat.
With two seasons left, Trueblood has a chance to join Neal’s former teammate — John Crowley — as Aurora’s only three-time state champions. When the season was over, Trueblood went to the Virginia Beach Nationals tournament and earned Sophomore All-American honors when he finished second in the sophomore 152-pound weight class.
The last time Aurora had multiple state wrestling champions was 2007-08, when Grandview’s Eric Wilson (112 pounds) and Cody Gilmore (285 pounds) won titles, as did Regis Jesuit’s Denzel Washington (152).
Neal believes more state champions will come in the near future at Regis Jesuit, likely from the trio of teammates — juniors Donovan and Logan Ronan and freshman Trenton Schultz — who join him on the All-City team.
Logan Ronan came the closest to getting there this season, making it to the 5A 145-pound semifinals in his first trip to state. His state title dreams were dashed, but he worked his way back to finish fourth and end his year with an Aurora-best 47 victories. Brother Donovan made his second trip to state and finished 41-9 at 132 pounds after winning one of his three matches.
Schultz (41-11) also grabbed fourth place at 160 pounds in his state debut, made all the more difficult by wrestling as a freshman in an upper weight traditionally dominated by upperclassmen. He knocked off a returning Aurora state placer — Cherokee Trail’s Harley Korte — in the opening round at state.
Smoky Hill’s lineup strength sat primarily in the upper weights in Bess, along with the Buffs’ two members of the All-City team — senior 195-pounder Demarcus Curtis and senior Josiah Neumann at 182, both first-time state qualifiers.
In his first appearance at the Pepsi Center, Curtis managed to wrestle a total of six matches and won half of them, earning his way onto the medal podium with his sixth-place finish. Neumann, Aurora’s only state qualifier at 182 pounds, lost both his matches, but finished a solid 31-21 on the season.
Rangeview made a big step forward this season with five wrestlers qualifying for state, including two juniors, a sophomore and two freshmen.
Junior Dominic Wenger was one of the “Fist” and the lone Aurora wrestler at 113 pounds to make state, where he went 0-2 to finish 25-14. Aurora was shut out of the 170-pound bracket at the state tournament, but Rangeview senior Sean O’Keefe (30-13) earned his way into the All-City slot by virtue of taking the lone regional place among city wrestlers, as he clamed sixth at Region 1.
Five Aurora schools landed one representative on the All-City team, a group highlighted by senior Jesus Casillas, who become the first state placer for the burgeoning program at Vista PEAK.
For the third straight year, Casillas was the only wrestlers from the school to qualify for the state tournament and he won four times in six times on the mat in his final appearance. He won his final prep match with a victory in the 4A 120-pound fifth-place match to cap a 39-9 campaign.
Cherokee Trail junior Danny Constant — 37-5 at 106 pounds — Aurora Central sophomore Jonnathan Quijada (23-13 at 126 pounds), Eaglecrest junior Dominique Evans, 30-13 at 138 pounds and Grandview senior heavyweight Josh Vigil (39-8) — who each won at least one match at state — round out the All-City team.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel
2013-14 AURORA SENTINEL ALL-CITY WRESTLING TEAM
106 pounds: Danny Constant, jr., Cherokee Trail (37-5); 113 pounds: Dominic Wenger, jr., Rangeview (25-14); 120 pounds: Jesus Casillas, sr., Vista PEAK (39-9) (5th place in 4A); 126 pounds: Jonnathan Quijada, soph., Aurora Central (23-13); 132 pounds: Donovan Ronan, jr., Regis Jesuit (41-9); 138 pounds: Dominique Evans, jr., Eaglecrest (30-13); 145 pounds: Logan Ronan, jr., Regis Jesuit (47-6) (4th place in 5A); 152 pounds: Deyaun Trueblood, soph., Gateway (39-3) (State champion in 5A); 160 pounds: Trenton Schultz, fr., Regis Jesuit (41-11) (4th place in 5A); 170 pounds: Sean O’Keefe, sr., Rangeview (30-13); 182 pounds: Josiah Neumann, sr., Smoky Hill (31-21); 195 pounds: Demarcus Curtis, sr., Smoky Hill (41-11) (6th place in 5A); 220 pounds: Grant Neal, sr., Regis Jesuit (39-0) (State champion in 5A); 285 pounds: Josh Vigil, soph., Grandview (39-8)
Honorable mention: Abraham Barreras, sr., Aurora Central (31-14 at 138 pounds); Dexter Bess, sr., Smoky Hill (45-4, 2nd place at 5A 220 pounds); Seth Brown, jr., Grandview (138 pounds, qualified for state, but injured); Carl Camposanto, fr., Regis Jesuit (31-14 at 120 pounds); Max Carbajal, sr., Hinkley (39-4, 3rd place at 5A 220 pounds); Xavier Cardenas, soph., Grandview (29-7 at 120 pounds); Serj Chavez, fr., Hinkley (31-9 at 132 pounds); Kipp Corby, soph., Rangeview (30-17 at 132 ponds); Jake Dugan, jr., Eaglecrest (27-13 at 132 pounds); Nick Elgin, soph., Regis Jesuit (9-8 at 195 pounds); A.J. Federico, fr., Grandview (29-13 at 106 pounds); Max Gonzales, fr., Rangeview (24-12 at 195 pounds); Harley Korte, sr., Cherokee Trail (39-6 at 160 pounds); Sam Maes, jr., Rangeview (31-11 at 152 pounds); Anthony Malone, soph., Eaglecrest (20-11 at 220 pounds); Tyler Manual, sr., Hinkley (14-19 at 285 pounds); Aldin Puris, jr., Eaglecrest (28-16 at 160 pounds); Deron Solomon, fr., Rangeview (20-19 at 138 pounds)