Class 2A team scores
■ 103 pounds
Ray Rodriguez, Rocky Ford, def. T-Lane Mazzola, Hayden, 7-0
David Torres, Manzanola, def. Lauryn Bruggink, Soroco, 6-2
■ 119 pounds
Chad Terry, Hayden, def. Keegan Arnold, Nucla, 14-3
Ricky Long, Rocky Ford, def. Terry, 7-3
■ 152 pounds
Koleman Williams, Hayden, def. Austin Blasi, Burlington, 7-3
Cade Garrison, Holyoke, def. Williams, fall 3:00
Matt Swim, Byers, def. Williams, fall 1:29
■ 215 pounds
Treyben Letlow, Hayden, def. Mike Slatterly, Burlington, 5-1
Denver Hayden is nearly a four-hour drive from Denver’s Pepsi Center, and for much of the weekend at the state wrestling tournament, that distance seemed to have an obscuring effect when it came to Tigers’ junior Treyben Letlow.
Despite placing third at the tournament a year ago in the 215-pound bracket and entering this year’s tournament at the same weight and undefeated, Letlow wasn’t the top seed or considered the favorite to win a state championship.
The announcers at the arena mispronounced his name every time he took the mat.
There’s no mistaking it now, though. Treyben Letlow crashed the bracket and dominated the competition.
Letlow won a state championship Saturday night in the big city.
“This is awesome,” he said, breathless 10 minutes after his match. “This is one of the best moments I’ve ever had.”
Letlow’s title is the first for Hayden in a decade and breaks a string of individual runner up finishes that had come to haunt the school’s proud wrestling program. His 5-1 championship final victory against Burlington’s Mike Slatterly set Letlow apart. With a 36-0 record, he finished as Class 2A’s only undefeated wrestler.
That distinction even distinguished him in his school’s lofty history.
“He just finished the greatest season in Hayden history,” Tigers coach Ty Camilletti said. “We’ve had so many great wrestlers, but we’ve never had anyone win 36 matches.
“I’m just so, so happy for Treyben. He wrestled a great match.”
Letlow capped what was a great weekend for Hayden. The team finished fifth, it’s second top-five showing in as many years. Hayden’s only other finals wrestler, 103-pounder T-Lane Mazzola, lost a 7-0 decision to Ray Rodriguez, of Rocky Ford, to finish second.
Chad Terry was fourth at 119 pounds, and Koleman Williams was sixth at 152.
Letlow stole the show, however.
He took the lead in the championship match with a reversal early in the third period, spinning around Slatterly in the blink of an eye to take a 2-1 lead.
Slatterly tried desperately to earn a one-point escape and even the score as the clock ticked down, but Letlow clung tight, then took advantage, throwing the Burlington senior to his back and earning three near-fall points in the final 10 seconds.
“I was thinking about all the hard work that went into this season,” Letlow said about his championship moment. “Wrestling’s not fun. Practice is tough. But you don’t do it for practice. You do it for this.
“This makes it all worthwhile, knowing that you’re a state champion.”
The win was sweet for reasons far greater than the disrespect angle. Slatterly entered the match seeking his second state championship. The first title came in 2008 when he beat Letlow’s older brother, Coy, in the semifinals of the 189-pound bracket.
After the final whistle sounded Treyben Letlow threw his arms up and stood over Slatterly, who was lying with his face down on the mat. He whooped loud and celebrated with his coaches.
Later, he climbed up on top of the podium and raised his arms again.
The public address announcer started.
“And your 2A 215-pound state champion,” the speakers blared, cutting through the championship fervor and 18,000 wrestling fans to mispronounce Letlow’s name one final time, “Triben Letlow!”
Mazzola comes up short
Try as he might — and he tried hard for two whole periods — Mazzola never could find any advantage against Rodriguez.
Rodriguez set the stage for his first state championship with a first-round takedown. He shot in toward Mazzola, caught a leg and quickly toppled the Hayden wrestler for a two-point takedown.
Mazzola lost three more points in the later rounds when the referee repeatedly ruled he was pushing Rodriguez off the mat. He pushed and pulled and crawled all over his opponent through the second and third periods but couldn’t tip him to threaten a pin.
That did little to wreck the weekend for the wide-eyed Hayden freshman. Soon after his match, he was smiling and still trying to soak in his much unexpected run to the title match.
“I’m proud,” Mazzola said. “I didn’t expect to get to finals. This tournament was awesome.”
2 make consolation bracket
They were the kinds of finishes to the state tournament that in a few days, maybe a few months — certainly in a few years — will be points of pride.
Terry was fourth in the 119-pound bracket, and Williams was sixth in the state at 152.
Neither was the kind of performance that left either inspired Saturday afternoon, however, and in the hours after their tournaments wrapped up, Terry and Williams expressed frustration in the losses that ended their seasons.
Terry managed a smile and chuckle, but admitted that he wasn’t over the dramatic last-second, one-point defeat to the eventual state champion that kept him from his second consecutive state title match. He bounced back Saturday morning with a massive 14-3 victory against Keegan Arnold, of Nucla, but fell behind early and struggled to score in the consolation finals against Ricky Long, of Rocky Ford.
Terry took care of Long, 8-2, when the pair met in the championship quarterfinals, but Long turned the tables Saturday and won, 7-3.
“He was a pretty good wrestler, and I got behind. I just couldn’t come back,” Terry said. “I’ll be back here next year. I’ll be back to the finals next year.”
Williams opened the day with a win, a 7-3 decision against Austin Blasi, of Burlington, but couldn’t find any success in his next two matches. He was turned to his back twice, first against Cade Garrison, of Holyoke, and then against Matt Swim, of Byers, in a battle to decide fifth and sixth place.
It was hardly the way he wanted to finish but still was his best run in his two years at the state tournament and a highlight to a four-year wrestling career.
“I’m frustrated. I really was hoping to work my way back up the bracket and take fifth,” Williams said. “Still, I’m sure I’ll be happy about all this later.”
Bruggink a win short
Perhaps nothing proved Soroco sophomore Lauryn Bruggink’s point better than her reaction when it finally was over.
She was cast from the Class 2A state wrestling tournament one win shy of her stated goal of placing in the top six.
Saturday at the state tournament is a day of tears, and many of Colorado’s toughest brutes turn to marshmallows and line the hallways of the Pepsi Center and cry. Bruggink has long insisted she’s just another wrestler, and she proved it.
She didn’t celebrate her achievement from the day before of becoming the first girl to win one, then two state matches. Instead, like any other wrestler, she was devastated when she lost.
She fell, 6-2, to Manzanola wrestler David Torres in the consolation quarterfinals.
“As a wrestler, I’m bummed,” she said. “I’m pretty upset I didn’t place.”
Torres proved a step too quick for Bruggink. He pinned her when they met up last year at the state tournament but didn’t come close Saturday. Still, he registered three takedowns and controlled the match.
Bruggink, 22-8 on the season, managed a pair of escapes and was fighting late into the third period to score but couldn’t find any traction against the sturdy Torres.