2/27/2008 4:03:00 PM   

Photo by Heather A. Longway-Burke/The Aurora Sentinel

Grandview junior Eric Wilson, top, gets a headlock on Northglenn’s Philip Grout on his way to the winning takedown in overtime of the 112-pound state championship match at the Class 5A state wrestling tournament on Feb. 23 at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Wilson and senior heavyweight Cody Gilmore brought home state titles, while 135-pounder Patrick Brown fell in the state title match to Pomona’s Nick Jones.

Photo by Heather A. Longway-Burke/The Aurora Sentinel

Grandview senior Cody Gilmore, right, gets a hug from Wolves’ assistant coach Scott Conant after his 4-1 decision over Sand Creek’s Ray Hatchett in the heavyweight championship match at the Class 5A state wrestling tournament on Feb. 23 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Wrestling: Wolves crown another championship pair
Wilson, Gilmore win 5A state titles as Grandview goes 2-for-3 in mat finals

By Courtney Oakes
The Aurora Sentinel

Grandview's batting average with Class 5A state wrestling finalists soared to .500 on Feb. 23.

Junior Eric Wilson won the 112-pound championship and senior heavyweight Cody Gilmore followed suit on Feb. 23 on the final night of the three-day 5A state wrestling tournament at the Pepsi Center, giving coach Greg Maestas and the Wolves four champions in the past three years.

Senior Patrick Brown lost to Pomona standout Nick Jones in the 135-pound final, but two out of three wasn't bad for the Wolves, who've had at least one wrestler in a championship match in every year since 2005.

"The last four years we've had eight guys make the final and we've won four titles, so it's hard to beat that," said Maestas, who also coached five state champions while at Overland. "These kids worked so hard. I'm really proud of them."

Behind the trio of finalists, Grandview blew away its best-ever team finish of seventh with a third-place showing behind six-time defending champion Ponderosa and Loveland, which had 130-pound star Tyler Graff win his fourth state title.

Wilson and Gilmore joined 2006 winners Jon Brascetta and Curtis McNary on the list of Wolves state champions.

Wilson vividly remembered his freshman year when he lost his only state matches, but sat in the Pepsi Center stands as he watched Brascetta and McNary celebrate state championships. It made a big impression on him and helped instill in him a fire to improve.

"Those guys were huge role models to me when I was a freshman and they were seniors," Wilson said. "They showed me the way and showed me how it was done. I was just sitting there saying that's where I want to be, that's what I want to do - I want to win the state tournament. Now I have and it feels great."

Wilson came into the tournament with little pressure, as he was ranked third behind Rocky Mountain sophomore Jeremy Schmitt and Northglenn junior Philip Grout - the defending state champions at 103 and 112 pounds, respectively.

In the semifinals, Wilson got a go-ahead takedown in overtime and eventually pinned Schmitt, who beat him 5-1 earlier in the season at the Arvada West Invitational - and followed it up with a thrilling 2-0 decision midway through overtime against Grout, who came into the final at 44-1.

The two remained scoreless until the extra period, when they went to the mat with Wilson getting Grout in a headlock. The pair spun three or four times before Wilson (38-5) got the angle for a takedown on a move that had paid off for him many times.

"I had good confidence going into overtime because of winning my last match in overtime," Wilson said. "Coach Maestas works us hard, so I knew I had the edge in conditioning. I just went after him. Repetition with that move really helped. I had to keep going, I wasn't going to give it up, and I finally got it."

Maestas knows how much next season will change for Wilson, who can no longer take advantage of staying under the radar.

"The pressure was on those two guys as returning state champs," Maestas said. "Eric has to realize that he's a marked man, but I think he'll do the things to stay on top of his game."

Gilmore - easily one of the most athletic heavyweights in the state - pulled off the rare football-wrestling state championship double after helping Grandview win the 5A football crown in December as a defensive lineman.

He was never threatened during a 4-1 decision over Sand Creek's Ray Hatchett in the heavyweight final to place for the first time in two trips to the state tournament and finish the year 38-4.

"It's crazy; all the work in the room finally paid off," said Gilmore, who has wrestled for just three years. "It's special to me (to win in football and wrestling).

"I want some time off now; it's been all work and no play. I need to have some fun."

Gilmore will take it easy for a few weeks before he begins to get ready for next year, when he will play football at Northern Colorado.

Brown joined Dan Brascetta and Stephen Eberle in 2005 and Tyler McGoffin in 2007 as Grandview finalists who fell short.

Brown ran into a buzzsaw in Jones, a returning state champion whose brother Noomis also won a state title in 2006. Brown fell behind 5-0 in the first period and never recovered.

Still, it was the first time he was on the podium in three tournaments at the Pepsi Center and helped overcome some of the disappointment.

"I was hoping for first, but he's a lot better than me," Brown said. "I just tried to wrestle as hard as I could, but it's tough to come back against a kid like that."