Wrestling: City's state numbers small, but
Photo by Courtney Oakes/The
Regis junior Powell Slinkard,
left, celebrates after his pin
of Mountain Vista’s Matt
Carnahan in the 140-pound
championship match at the Class
5A Region 2 tournament on Feb.
16 at Fort Collins High School.
Coach Brent Bieshaar is at
right. Slinkard headlined the
nine city wrestlers from
Gateway, Regis and Smoky Hill
who came out of Region 2 with
berths in the 5A state
tournament on Feb. 21-23 at the
Pepsi Center in Denver.
Photo by Courtney Oakes/The
Smoky Hill’s Joe Jones, left,
and Gateway’s LaDaris Mungin
tangle in the third-place match
at 130 pounds at the Region 2
tournament in Fort Collins.
Jones won 8-2, but both made
Aurora sends 22 wrestlers to Pepsi Center
By Courtney Oakes
The Aurora Sentinel
Aurora's group of state wrestling qualifier is small
Not small in terms of physical size - although 12 of
the city's 22 total qualifiers are 135 pounds or
less - but in terms of numbers.
The city had four regional champions crowned on Feb.
16, but the 22 qualifiers - led by Grandview with
eight - is a handful less than Aurora's usual
contingent. Twenty-seven city wrestlers made it last
Fourteen Aurora qualifiers headed to the Pepsi
Center in Denver for the Feb. 21-23 tournament are
first-timers, while seven 2007 state participants
are at home.
Eaglecrest's Josh Neuberger, Michael Balagna and
Josh Starr of Grandview, Aurora Central's Phil
Nguyen, Rangeview's Clayton Frawley and Regis' Brian
Rubenstrunk in 5A and Cherokee Trail's Dustin Brown
in 4A (see story, below) were unable to duplicate
last season's success.
But while some of those old, familiar names
disappeared, surprises took their place.
Though Frawley and 189-pounder Brad Nicholson were
ranked, Rangeview's only state qualifier is senior
135-pounder Ty Mackey. A partially torn elbow
ligament in the preseason put Mackey out for an
extended period of time and other assorted injuries
limited him to just two tournaments and a handful of
But he showed up at regionals after coach Tim Corby
inserted him in the lineup late. Seeded 13th, Mackey
got pinned in his first-round match against
Arapahoe's David Coulter, but rebounded to make the
third-place match, upsetting Doherty's Ryan Talmich
- ranked 12th in the state and the region's top seed
- along the way. He lost to Coulter in overtime to
"I got in at the last minute, but I didn't put any
pressure on myself and just wrestled," Mackey said.
"Now that I think about it, being one of the top 16
in the state is quite an accomplishment."
Overland's Josh Christopher was an unlikely
130-pound qualifier out of rugged Region 1, as was
Gateway sophomore LaDaris Mungin, who made state
from Region 2 in just his second year of wrestling.
Mungin and 145-pound teammate Justin Freeman both
made state for the first time, ending the Olys'
one-year absence from the Pepsi Center. A dazed
Freeman gutted out a double-overtime win over
Thornton's Kyle Johnson in the semifinals to secure
the berth he was denied in a wrestleback last year.
"I'm really looking forward to state," said Mungin,
who lost to Smoky Hill's Joe Jones in the 130-pound
third-place match. "It'll be good to have Radio
Grandview represented the status quo for Aurora,
getting the same number of qualifiers as last year,
even minus Balagna and Starr.
The Wolves, picked to finish ninth as a team at
state by On The Mat, had regional champions in Eric
Wilson (112 pounds), Patrick Brown (130 pounds) and
heavyweight Cody Gilmore.
"You'd always like to have more qualifiers,
especially when you don't get in some guys who have
been there before, but we've got a good group
going," said Grandview coach Greg Maestas, who is
hoping for a top-10 finish.
Wilson placed third at state at 103 pounds last year
and is in line for a similar finish, with the
possibility of going higher if he can get past
top-ranked Jeremy Schmitt of Rocky Mountain in a
potential 112-pound semifinal.
Brown, who suffered an injury at regionals last year
that hampered his state appearance, is healthy and
confident he can finally place in his third state
appearance. Gilmore's been ranked second in the
state behind Ponderosa's Taylor Stam all season and
could meet the Mustangs star in the heavyweight
final Feb. 23.
Senior Bryce Lucherini is a previous state qualifier
at 152 pounds, while the Wolves have newcomers in
John Godin (103), Cody McCutcheon (160), Jacob
Bomareto (189) and Penn Wade (215).
Regis had three wrestlers make regional championship
matches in senior Danny Bieshaar and juniors Zach
Atencio and Powell Slinkard, with Slinkard winning
the only title to earn his state berth.
"I hadn't even thought about state at the beginning
of the season; I thought it would never come," said
Slinkard, who was injured midway through last season
and missed the rest of the year. "I don't know what
might happen next year, so I knew I had to push
through and do it this year."
Atencio and Bieshaar both lost their title matches,
but have potential at state. Freshman 152-pounder
Denzel Washington rounds out Regis' state group.
Smoky Hill got in a trio of brothers Nolan and Ethan
Myers and senior Joe Jones, while Aurora Central
qualified the duo of Daniel Armijo and freshman