LAKEWOOD — Wilson George liked his chances early on at the 5A Jeffco League wrestling tournament, but the Chatfield 182-pounder also understood that winning a conference title would be tough at the same time. He also knew that while a league championship would be nice it’s just a warmup for what lies ahead at regionals.
“Next week is work, work, work,” George said.
Not that the Feb. 9 tournament at Bear Creek High School was any cakewalk, but George was the cream of the crop. He went 3-0, capped by a pinfall of Pomona’s Ramon Yslas in the finals. George reached the championship bout with a 14-2 major decision over Tom Oury of Arvada West and a 5-0 decision over Ralston Valley’s Tanner Hauptman.
George overcame an early takedown against Oury to score 14 consecutive points, but he couldn’t put the Wildcats grappler away before time expired.
“I was really going for the pin. He was tough enough to stick it out. Props to him,” George said.
He was one of four Chargers to place in the top four of their respective weight classes. Sam Hebert, at 160 pounds, placed second, 132-pounder Jake Thayer was third and 106-pounder Ezra Fernandez took fourth.
Chatfield, as a team, took sixth in the eight-team field with 71 points. Columbine was seventh with 31 points. Powerhouse Pomona captured its ninth consecutive 5A Jeffco League crown with 244 points. Lakewood was a distant second with 122 points.
Hebert reached the finals after wins over Arvada West’s George Gruden in 2 minutes, 44 seconds and a 21-6 technical fall of Lakewood’s Derek Garcia. And though he was pinned in 1 minute by Pomona’s Archie Colgan in the championship bout there’s no question that the Chatfield senior has been mentally ready to compete.
“I feel like I’m wrestling better than I ever have been. I’ve improved more this year than I’ve ever improved in my life,” Hebert said.
Columbine’s lone bright spot came at 152 pounds where Karl Breidenbach went 3-0, but it wasn’t easy. Despite a 28-second pinfall of Bear Creek’s Matt Schuster in the first round, the Rebels grappler had his hands full in the semifinals and championship round. In the semis, he scored a narrow 6-5 victory over Lakewood’s Peter Knockson. Then in the finals he went to overtime before defeating Pomona’s Ethan Wright 4-2.
“Taking first or second or third is great, but the only mindset you can have in wrestling is to work hard and never give up,” Breidenbach said. “I never set my goal in relation to winning. I always just try to do my best.”
Columbine head coach Mark Baltazar wouldn’t expect anything differently from Breidenbach.
“He has been focused all year. Since we’re getting closer to regionals he’s trying to get a little more focused,” Baltazar said.
Contact Michael Hicks at email@example.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 15.