Wrestling: Trueblood becomes Gateway’s first state wrestling champion since 1993

Gateway's Deyaun Trueblood
Gateway sophomore Deyaun Trueblood raises his arms in triumph after winning the Class 5A 152-pounds state championship on Feb. 22, 2014, at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Trueblood’s 9-3 win over Fountain-Fort Carson’s Rashawn Benford make him Gateway’s first state wrestling champion since 1993. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

DENVER | It had to be the socks.

But mostly like the wrestler in them.

Disappointed with a sixth-place finish at the Class 5A state wrestling tournament as a freshman, Gateway sophomore Deyaun Trueblood dedicated himself like never before toward winning a state. He did it in style on Saturday night at Pepsi Center with a dominating 9-3 victory over Fountain-Fort Carson’s Rashawn Benford in the 5A 152-pound state championship match.

“I took sixth last year and I wasn’t going to take sixth again; those days are over,” Trueblood said afterward. “Wrestling is my life, it’s all I ever do. I almost destroy my body just trying to perfect my passion, so it really feels good to pay off.

Gateway's Steven Burns, Deyaun Trueblood
Gateway wrestling coach Steven Burns carries Deyaun Trueblood around the mat to celebrate his 152-pound state championship on Feb. 22, 2014, at Pepsi Center. (Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel)

“This is what I told myself I was going to get last year.”

Trueblood’s victory brought Gateway its first state wrestling championship since 1993, when the Olys had two winners in the now-defunct Class 6A in Bruce Choi (103 pounds) and Shomar Vernon (189 pounds). Trueblood is the fourth state winner all-time for the school, joining Choi, Vernon and Walter Reggans (the 1991 6A heavyweight champion).

To get to the championship match against No. 2-ranked Benford — who beat him at last year’s state tournament — Trueblood upset previously unbeaten and top-ranked Roman Ortiz of Rocky Mountain in the semifinals.

Trueblood relishes the big stage and was loose during the Parade of Champions, flashing a thumbs up as he exited the floor to get ready for the match. Benford got the first takedown to lead 2-0 after one period, but it was all Trueblood from there.

He earned a quick escape point to open the second period and capped the period with a takedown to take a 4-2 lead. Trueblood turned Benford and earned three points for a near fall midway through the third, which left Benford injured. After a brief stoppage for injury time, Trueblood got one last takedown to seal it.

“I was just playing the game, that was my main objective this whole tournament,” Trueblood said. “Just stay patient, don’t get phased and stay up there. You’re not out of it until you’re out of it. That kid’s tough, he’s ranked No. 2 in the state, but I came out on top. It feels great.”

The expression of all the hard work, sacrifice and dedication came out at the end of Trueblood victory over Benford — which he was in control of the entire way — as the Trueblood and coach Steven Burns produced one of the most memorable celebrations of the championship rounds.

After Trueblood leaped into his arms, Burns ran around the mat in an impromptu victory lap that stirred the crowd. A few minutes later in the back tunnel at Pepsi Center, Burns’ fire turned into tears, as he broke down when talking about the journey.

“I never doubted him; he was ready to wrestle the whole tournament and he got it done,” Burns said. “I don’t know what else to say, it’s huge. I’m so happy for him, he worked so hard. I’m just here, he’s the one wrestling.

“He had over 120 matches this summer and it paid off. A lot of people don’t push their kids hard enough I think. I didn’t give him a break and this is what happens. We worked our butts off and it paid off.”

While the celebration is likely to last, the work is only just beginning for Trueblood. Now with a target firmly on his back, he will aim to win state championships in the two years he has left.

“I came out and did what I wanted to do, but now there’s more; this isn’t it,” Trueblood said. “I’m not satisfied, I want more. I’m wrestling next week, I’m not done. I’m not taking any days off.”

Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel


Championship: Trueblood dec. Rashawn Benford (Fountain-Fort Carson), 9-3

Semifinal: Trueblood dec. Roman Ortiz (Rocky Mountain), 3-2

Quarterfinal: Trueblood pinned Grady Pina (Coronado), 2:58

First round: Trueblood dec. Cameron Gonzales (Pomona), 3-0