2/22/2006 3:21:00 PM  Email this article Print this article 

Photo by Shannon Davidson/Aurora Sentinel & Daily Sun

Grandview senior Jon Brascetta points to his family in the Pepsi Center stands Feb. 18 after he beat Ponderosa’s Patrick Armstrong 8-4 to win the 5A 145-pound state championship. Brascetta’s older brother, Dan, lost in the same match in 2005.

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Wolves crown two state mat champs
Brascetta, McNary give Grandview first wrestling titles

By Courtney Oakes
The Aurora Sentinel and Daily Sun

Grandview went into the 5A state wrestling tournament as one of only three Aurora high schools without a state wrestling champion.

The Wolves doubled their pleasure Feb. 18, when Jon Brascetta won the state crown at 145 pounds and 152-pounder Curtis McNary followed soon after with his own.

Brascetta, whose older brother Dan lost in the same match last season, beat Ponderosa’s Patrick Armstrong 8-4 to become Aurora’s first state winner since Rangeview’s Roger Baker in 2002. Training partner McNary took down Poudre’s Brandon Doyle in the closing seconds of overtime for a 3-1 victory.

“They say state champions come in twos,” McNary said. “If you train with somebody who is a state champion, you might as well be a state champion yourself.”

Overland still leads the way among Aurora schools with nine all-time winners, but Grandview — now in its eighth year — joins Eaglecrest and Smoky Hill as home to two champs. Only 3-year-old Cherokee Trail and Hinkley, which doesn’t have a program anymore, have never had a champion, according to CHSAA records.

The Raptors nearly upped their haul to three, but senior Rocco DePaolo’s 130-pound title quest fell short when Wasson’s Jesse Cruz pinned him late in the third period.

Greg Maestas, who’s coached the Grandview team from its inception, finally got to see not one, but two, of his wrestlers win on the big stage.

Grandview had two finalists in 2005, but both Dan Brascetta and Stephen Eberle came up short in championship matches.

“I’m really happy for both of them,” Maestas said.

“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. Kids in the program now know that it’s feasible to get to the top. It’s not just some other school down the road.”

Most of the attention in the 5A tournament centered around on the dominating exploits of 125-pound Coronado star Henry Cejudo, who tech-falled all of his opponents on his way to winning his fourth high school state championship.

But Brascetta’s state tournament was just as impressive, though he did it without much fanfare. He didn’t allow a takedown to any of his four opponents, and he won three of his matches by tech fall (a margin of 15 points).

“I don’t know if anybody’s really been looking at me, but I had a pretty good run,” Brascetta said. “I treated it pretty much like any other tournament, except for the last match.”

With his brother, currently a wrestler at Oregon State, in the stands, 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 when Dan took second, it was so amazing. But this tops it.”

Brascetta placed third last year at 135 pounds, but his development took a sharp upward curve late this season when his brother began to give him some tips.

“I know how it is to wrestle in college, so I’ve seen what works,” Dan Brascetta said from the Pepsi Center stands after a lengthy hug with his brother.

“Most high school kids don’t have it, so when they do it makes a big difference. He listened to everything I told him, and it paid off. I feel so good for him. It’s like I won.”

Jon Brascetta hopes to join his brother at Oregon State. It’s the only school he’s applied to so far.

McNary’s victory was incredibly gratifying, considering he’d failed to place in his three previous trips to state. Last year, he was 31-3 and a regional champion, but went 1-2.

But McNary made the jump all the way to a state title after returning to the Wolves’ lineup in January.

McNary blew out his right elbow in the third game of Grandview’s football season. He was on the sidelines as the Wolves made it all the way to the 5A semifinals before losing to Douglas County.

McNary didn’t think he would wrestle, but talked to his teammates in late December and decided to give it a go. He ended the year 24-1, suffering his only loss at the Top of the Rockies meet against Alamosa’s Cody Yohn, who won the 4A 152-pound title.

In his championship match, McNary took Doyle down in the final seconds of overtime to break a 1-1 tie. The referees awarded him the winning two-point move after a brief conference.

“I’ve been wrestling for 13 years, so this is a great way to end it,” said McNary, who fell one round short of placing as a sophomore.

“I’ve been saying all along that senior year is my year. The elbow almost kept me out, but I’m so glad I came back. This makes up for football, because I know how it feels to work so hard and come up short.”

McNary had hoped to continue wrestling in college, but that was before his injury. Schools lost interest in him when he got hurt.

“Honestly, I don’t think my arm would hold up for another year anyway,” he said. “That’s it for me.”

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 times in a row before he went down to Cruz.

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

DePaolo, who Eaglecrest coach Sparky Adair has seen develop by huge leaps and bounds since he began wrestling in middle school, intends to keep wrestling somewhere in college.

But after a draining season that ended in disappointment, DePaolo isn’t going to be in a rush to get back on the mat.

“I want to sit around and get fat first,” he said.