The “Town Center Takedown” broke ground last year and it returned to the Town Center of Aurora bigger and better on Jan. 28.
The brainchild of Hinkley coach and athletic director Rodney Padilla saw the Thunderbirds again meet with a Denver Public Schools program on a mat in the middle of the mall.
This version — which saw Denver West instead of Far Northeast — included Hinkley’s inflatable tunnel normally used at football games, cheerleaders, a large slate of youth exhibition matches and a visit from Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman. Mall shoppers, a good-sized group on a seemingly non-descript Tuesday evening — crowded the railings above the mat and the majority stayed for all of it.
“They don’t get a lot of attention, so to be on a stage like this, this is what sports are supposed to be about,” Padilla said after his team rallied to a 48-48 tie. “We don’t get these kind of people coming to Hinkley for wrestling matches. We worked hard to put together some good matches.”
Last year, the “Town Center Takedown” made a strong debut and was well-received in the prep wrestling world, which has seen a variety of matches take place outside of gyms — most in football stadiums — over the past few years.
Padilla has worked hard to build his program and keep the wrestlers on his team, as he has cut practice times down to 90 minutes from two hours to accommodate athletes that need to have jobs and put on memorable events such as the “Town Center Takedown.”
The result is a group of 16 solid wrestlers — mostly sophomores and freshmen — led by a couple of seniors and a junior in Martin Renteria, who is currently ranked by On The Mat at 285 pounds as he makes a push to qualify for the upcoming Class 5A state wrestling tournament.
More wrestlers appear to be on the way for Hinkley, as Team X-Treme — a new feeder program featuring around 95 youth wrestlers — got some mat time at the mall as well.
“This was a lot of fun and a great experience,” Renteria said. “It was great to experience it as a team because we don’t get this kind of crowd for home meets.”
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
“TOWN CENTER TAKEDOWN”
Jan. 28 at Town Center of Aurora
DENVER WEST 48, HINKLEY 48
106 pounds: Samantha Carrillo (Denver West) won by forfeit; 113 pounds: Jacob Martinez (Denver West) won by forfeit; 120 pounds: Double forfeit; 126 pounds: Alvaro Zamora (Hinkley) pinned Nhi Duong (Denver West), 1:39; 132 pounds: Kristopher Peroni (Hinkley) won by forfeit; 138 pounds:Eric Compos (Hinkley) pined Eric Esparza (Denver West), 1:06; 138 pounds: Ashton Solis (Hinkley) pinned Eric Esparza (Denver West), 2:00; 145 pounds: Matthew Martinez (Denver West) pinned James Gagnier (Hinkley), 4:28; 152 pounds: Judiah Martinez (Denver West) pinned Celestino Reyna (Hinkley), 2:16; 160 pounds: Isaiah Escamilla (Denver West) pinned Jadaan Anderson (Hinkley), 1:19; 170 pounds: Keani Bright (Denver West) pinned Sean Dominguez (Hinkley), 1:42; 182 pounds:Darian Dimas Saturno (Hinkley) pinned Alexis Marcial (Denver West), 0:57; 195 pounds: Rolando Perales (Denver West) won by forfeit; 220 pounds: Joel Ramirez (Denver West) pinned Jesus Melendez (Hinkley), 2:59; 285 pounds: Martin Renteria (Hinkley) pinned Samuel Urban-Hoppe (Denver West), 1:39