2/20/2006 12:11:00 AM 

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By Shannon Davidson/Aurora Sentinel & Daily Sun

Grandview senior Jon Brascetta, left, holds down Ponderosa's Patrick Armstrong in the Class 5A 145-pound championship match of the state wrestling tournament Feb. 18 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Brascetta took Armstrong down four times in the match for an 8-4 decision. He became the first state champion in Grandview history.

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By Shannon Davidson/Aurora Sentinel & Daily Sun

Grandview senior Curtis McNary, left, has his hand raised by the referee Feb. 18 at the Pepsi Center after winning the 5A 152-pound championship at the state wrestling tournament. McNary won a 3-1 decision over Poudre’s Brandon Doyle in overtime.

For more photos like this go to the Aurora Sentinel Photo Gallery

Wolves crown two mat champs
Brascetta, McNary win back-to-back titles to enter Grandview record book; eight Aurora wrestlers place at Pepsi Center

By Courtney Oakes
The Aurora Sentinel and Daily Sun

DENVER | Wrestling pride spread throughout the city during this weekend’s Class 5A state wrestling tournament.

Eight wrestlers from five city schools earned places in the three-tournament that wrapped up Saturday night at the Pepsi Center, topped by state championships from Grandview seniors Jon Brascetta and Curtis McNary.

Brascetta won a 10-4 decision over Ponderosa’s Patrick Armstrong at 145 pounds, and 152-pounder McNary followed with a 3-1 overtime win over Poudre’s Brandon Doyle to give the school its first-ever state champions. They also were the first Aurora wrestlers to stand atop the winner’s podium since Rangeview’s Roger Baker won the 215-pound title in 2002.

“I’m really happy for both of them,” said Grandview coach Greg Maestas, who also got a fourth-place finish from 160-pounder Matt Lucherini.

“This is great for them, it’s great for the school and it’s great for the program,” added Maestas. “It’s really something we can build on.”

Eaglecrest senior Rocco DePaolo made the 130-pound final, but Wasson’s Jesse Cruz pinned him late in the third period. The Raptors also got a fourth-place finish from 125-pounder Nathan Childers.

Unheralded Gateway 160-pounder Almir Hodzic created a stir with a first-round upset of Grand Junction Central’s Logan Hancock and went on to take fifth. Rangeview’s Brandon Johnson was similarly overlooked at 189 pounds, but he fought his way to sixth place in his first state tournament appearance. Regis’ John Hooper lost a 3-2 decision in the 135-pound third-place match.

Grandview had two finalists in 2005, but both Brascetta’s older brother, Dan, and Stephen Eberle both came up short. With his older brother, currently a wrestler at Oregon State, in the stands, Jon Brascetta dominated Armstrong for the second week in a row. He had three takedowns in the second period to build a commanding lead.

“This is just unreal; I can’t even describe it,” said Brascetta, who finished 32-2 overall. “Last year was when Dan took second, it was so amazing. But this tops it.”

Brascetta, who placed third last year at 135 pounds, completed a dominating state tournament in which he wasn’t taken down once in four matches. He won by tech fall (a margin of 15 points) over his first three opponents.

McNary’s run was much more improbable, as he went all the way to a state championship after three years of failing to place at state.

McNary blew out his right elbow early in Grandview’s football season, but decided to wrestle in the second half of the season. He ended the year with a record of 24-1, suffering his only loss at the Top of the Rockies meet against Alamosa’s Cody Yohn, who on the adjacent mat at Pepsi Center won the 4A 152-pound title.

In his championship match against Doyle, McNary scored a takedown in the final seconds of overtime to break a 1-1 tie.

“I’ve been wrestling for 13 years and this is my senior year, so this is a great way to end it,” McNary said. “The elbow almost kept me out, but I’m so glad I came back.”

McNary credited much of his success to having Brascetta as a workout partner in practice.

DePaolo and Cruz each entered the 130-pound final with just one loss each, and they battled through a scoreless first five minutes. Cruz then earned two points for a reversal and caught DePaolo in a fierce cradle, holding him down for a pin with 29 seconds left in the third.

It was a symmetrical end to the season for DePaolo, who lost his season-opening match in Rio Rancho, N.M., then won 44 in a row before he went down to Cruz.

“I lost my first one and I lost my last one,” DePaolo said. “That’s going to stick with me for a long time. I was confident, but he caught me in a real tough move.”

5A state wrestling tournament

Top-10 Team scores
— Ponderosa 158, Wasson 87, Chaparral 73.5, Bear Creek 71, Brighton 70, Centaurus 70, Grandview 63.5, Thornton 59.5, Pomona 59, Legacy 51, Poudre 51