3/21/2007 10:10:00 PM                                                        

File photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel & Daily Sun

Regis senior John Hooper has his arm raised Feb. 17 after his 9-5 win over Brighton’s Dietrick Turney in the 140-pound state championship match at the Class 5A state wrestling tournament at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Hooper became the school’s first state champion since 1994.

File photo by Courtney Oakes/Aurora Sentinel & Daily Sun

Grandview sophomore Eric Wilson gets his 103-pound third-place medal Feb. 17 at the Pepsi Center.

103 pounds: Eric Wilson, Grandview, soph.
112 pounds: Dustin Brown, Cherokee Trail, fr.
119 pounds: Nolan Myers, Smoky Hill, jr.
125 pounds: Danny Bieshaar, Regis, jr.
130 pounds: Josh Starr, Grandview, soph.
135 pounds: Tyler McGoffin, Grandview, sr.
140 pounds: John Hooper*, Regis, sr.
145 pounds: Bryce Lucherini, Grandview, jr.
152 pounds: Daniel Jordan, Cherokee Trail, jr.
160 pounds: Pasha Tabatabai, Regis, sr.
172 pounds: Matt Strohm, Regis, sr.
189 pounds: Austin Jones, Smoky Hill, sr.
215 pounds: No state qualifiers
Heavyweight: Ryan Tauer, Regis, sr.

Honorable mention: Daniel Armijo (135), Aurora Central, jr.; Mike Balagna (112), Grandview, soph.; Patrick Brown (125), Grandview, jr.; Clayton Frawley (140), Rangeview, jr.; Cody Gilmore (Hwt.), Grandview, jr.; Adam Jerome (135), Rangeview, sr.; Ivan Mondragon (103), Aurora Central, sr.; Josh Neuberger (119), Eaglecrest, jr.; Philip Nguyen (112), Aurora Central, soph.; Ryan Olvera (135), Eaglecrest, sr.; Daniel Ramirez (152), Grandview, sr.; Brian Rubenstrunk (152), Regis, jr.; Ricardo Villalobos (119), Aurora Central, sr.

Wrestling: Raiders pin down All-City team
Regis fivesome, Grandview quartet top city’s mat best

By Courtney Oakes
The Aurora Sentinel and Daily Sun

Regis' best season ever on the wrestling mats is reflected in its representation on the 2006-07 Aurora Sentinel All-City Wrestling Team.

The Raiders had five placers among their six qualifiers for the Class 5A state tournament at the Pepsi Center, resulting in an unexpected third-place finish as a team.

Senior 140-pounder John Hooper ended Regis' state championship drought at 13 years and seniors Ryan Tauer, Pasha Tabatabai and Matt Strohm, plus junior Danny Bieshaar, all took at least fifth in their respective weight classes. Four of the five broke the previous school record of 38 wins in a season.

Grandview wrestlers earned four All-City slots, topped by senior Tyler McGoffin and sophomore Eric Wilson. McGoffin lost in the 135-pound state championship match to Wasson's Casey Cruz, while Wilson placed third at 103 pounds in his second state appearance. First-timers Josh Starr and Bryce Lucherini round out the Wolves' contingent.

Smoky Hill (Nolan Myers, Austin Jones) and 4A Cherokee Trail (Dustin Brown, Daniel Jordan) had two picks each to round out the All-City team. No city wrestlers qualified for state at 215 pounds.

Regis had three veterans to build around this season, as Hooper, Tabatabai and Strohm all returned for their senior seasons coming off state tournament appearances.

Only Hooper placed last year - taking fourth at 135 pounds - but the experience and leadership permeated throughout the team.

Tauer and Bieshaar, who both fell short of state the previous year, both flourished working with their veteran teammates. Junior 152-pounder Brian Rubenstrunk rode his team's confidence and support through to a state berth via a wrestleback victory at regionals.

Hooper was the team's ultimate inspiration, so his 9-5 win in the 140-pound state championship match over Brighton's Dietrick Turney - the same wrestler he beat for the regional championship a week earlier - created many a teary eye among his teammates. He became Regis' fourth all-time state champion and first since B.J. Sanchez, who won in 1993 and 1994.

Hooper finished the season 43-3, including a 4-0 performance at state. Hooper had a major decision and two pins on his way to the final. He is set to sign soon with Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Tauer had never made the state tournament before, but he got a chance to win a state title in his only appearance. Tauer used the agility and leverage that served him as an offensive lineman on the Regis football team in the fall to beat a number of larger opponents.

He pinned two foes and had a major decision in the semifinals to earn a championship appearance against Thornton's Marcus Felker. Tauer's tangle with the imposing Felker lasted just 50 seconds before he was pinned, but his breakout season ended with a 40-4 overall record.

The most remarkable revelation of the season for Regis might have been the fifth-place finish of Tabatabai at 160 pounds.

He started his career as a sophomore "getting my butt kicked" and feeling like he didn't belong on the mat. But Tabatabai's driven work ethic made progress come quickly.

He made state last season and went 0-2, but this year was a completely different story as he won four of his six matches at the Pepsi Center. Tabatabai pinned his way through regionals, won his state opener and led Ponderosa's Patrick Armstrong late in their quarterfinal.

Armstrong rallied to win and Tabatabai was stopped by Centaurus' Garrett Lanham in the consolation semifinals, sending him to a fifth-place match against Boulder's Adam Katz. A 5-1 decision gave him a final record of 37-8.

Strohm took fourth at 171 pounds, falling in a close semifinal to eventual champion Micah Burak of Coronado before losing 6-0 in the third-place match to Legacy's Jordan Weber.

Strohm's path to the podium was satisfying, as he rallied to beat best friend Sal Hawes of Arvada in the final seconds of the quarterfinals. Strohm dominated Highlands Ranch's Jeff Quinlan 10-2 in the consolation semifinals, a week after losing the regional title to Quinlan.

Bieshaar took fifth at 125 pounds after missing the state tournament despite a 30-plus win season as a sophomore.

He went 4-2 in his first state appearance for a final mark of 40-9. Bieshaar lost to Centaurus star Dominic Valenzuela in the first round, but won three straight consolation matches. He almost made it four in a row, but lost to Adams City's A.J. Maestas 5-3 in overtime.

Bieshaar won the fifth-place match by injury default.

Grandview's McGoffin was another first-timer who made a big splash in his only tournament appearance.

Coming in as Aurora's top seed in a 135-pound weight class that also featured quality city wrestlers in Rangeview's Adam Jerome, Aurora Central's Daniel Armijo and Eaglecrest's Ryan Olvera, McGoffin won his first three matches - including an upset of Durango's Rhett Breed - to get to the state final against Cruz.

He hoped to be the one blemish on the Wasson star's record and join 2006 winners Jon Brascetta and Curtis McNary as Grandview's only wrestling state champions, but Cruz pinned him in 3 minutes, 46 seconds. McGoffin was 38-5 overall.

Wilson went 0-2 as a freshman at 103 pounds in 2006, but wrestling in the same weight class this year produced vastly different results.

He improved his strength and technique and had a great regular season, including winning five matches at a tough tournament in Reno, Nev.

Wilson lost his first round state match to Chaparral's Micah Self, but he closed with five straight consolation wins - including revenge against Self - to take third. He outlasted Legacy's Chris Wessel in the third-place match to finish 36-4.

Starr at 130 pounds and 145-pounder Lucherini each were 0-2 in their state debuts as Aurora's only qualifiers at those weights. Starr was 15-8 overall, Lucherini 23-13.

Smoky Hill's Myers came within a match of placing at 119 pounds, but lost a tough 5-4 decision to Chaparral's Caleb McDowell in the consolation bracket. He handily beat Aurora's two other 119-pound qualifiers - Eaglecrest's Josh Neuberger and Aurora Central's Ricardo Villalobos - in consolation matches.

Jones, the city's only 189-pound qualifier, was pinned in his two state matches and finished 29-10 overall in only his second year of wrestling.

Cherokee Trail had multiple 4A qualifiers for the first time and the Cougars also got their first state win.

Brown, an accomplished youth wrestler, racked up 39 victories in 48 matches in an outstanding high school debut. He was pinned by Berthoud's Brandyn Wahlert in the first round at state, but responded with a consolation pin of Palisade's Wesley Singleton before his tournament ended via a major decision.

Jordan, younger brother of 2006 qualifier Kimball, lost both of his state matches, including a tough 4-3 decision to Montrose's Michael Dickinson in the first round of consolations. He was 38-10 overall.