Record night for Grout, Ponderosa in 5A wrestling
By Scott Stocker, Rocky Mountain News
Published February 21, 2009 at 11:36 p.m.
Grout became the winingest wrestler in Colorado history when he beat Grandview’s Eric Wilson, 5-3, in a battle of state champions at 119 pounds. Ponderosa set the state record for the number of team championships in a row, with seven, eclipsing that of Denver North’s six straight from 1944-1949.
It was the rubber match between Grout, who won his first state title in 2007, and was beaten by Wilson in the 2008 112-pound match, 2-0 in overtime. Grout, who now has 162 victories, had beaten Wilson 9-5 earlier this season at the Arvada West Invitational. His win moved him a victory ahead of Greeley Central’s Tony Mustari and Centauri’s Jacob Sheridan, each with 161. Mustari and Sheridan wrestled from 2001-2005.
“I knew that if I scored first Eric was going to have to work for some points,” said Grout, who finished the season, 41-2. “When I got that first takedown, I was feeing pretty comfortable. It feels like I have won three years in a row now.
The same held true for Ponderosa’s Jake Snider, a junior who won his third title with a hard-fought 4-3 victory against Coronado’s Nathan Burak at 140. But the team title was on his mind from the start. Not only that, but first-year coach Corey McNellis watched the Mustangs grapplers from the stands, sitting next to former coach, Tim Ottmann.
“It was a lot harder than I anticipated, but I just wanted to keep my head and stay focused,” said Snider, 36-2. “As long as he didn’t take me down and I didn’t get called for stalling, I was going to win that match.
“The team championship makes me the most proud,” said Snider, who could become the state’s 16th, four time champion next season. “No one really thought we could win it this year, and everyone stepped up and did a good job. It feels awesome to be a part of something like that. There seemed to be a lot more pressure this year, but next year is the big one.”
Ponderosa’s Daniel Kelly followed in the steps of Snider, winning his second title for the Mustangs. He beat Douglas County’s Robby DePontbriand 3-2 at 145 to complete his senior season with a 41-2 record.
“That was tough,” Kelly said. “I wrestled him twice at Arvada West and the Douglas County duals. I beat him, but I knew that he would be tough here. The team title is awesome, and getting my second title is great. Corey could have been down, but we all have personal coaches, too.
“It’s nice to look up in the stands and see our head coach for the first year and our former coach and get our seventh team title,” Kelly said. “It has been a great night.”
The night became all the better for Dan Kelly as he watched his younger brother, Steve, win at 152, 5-1 against Fairview’s Scott Lohndorf.
“I really did get a bit more psyched when I saw Dan win,” said Kelly, 37-5. “I was just so blessed from God. This was just a tough match. I didn’t feel a lot of pressure to win because of Dan. Last year, I was in that boat and was stressed then. There is a load off my shoulders. And, I’m really pleased with our title. The team has worked hard all these seven years.”
Ponderosa won its fourth individual title at 160 as the Mustangs' Austin Gabel beat Chaparral’s Bryce Thurston 12-4.
Ponderosa had 120.5 points going into the evening's championship matches, and the Mustangs of coach Corey McNellis virtually had their seventh consecutive championship locked up. It was just a case of winning one match in order to mathematically eliminate Pine Creek, which was in second before the finals, with 101 points.
“I can’t tell you what this means to our program, doing something that no team in the history of the state has done,” said McNellis. “For that to happen, there are just so many people involved. It is just amazing, I’m on cloud nine, I can’t describe it.”
Not only that, it was a repeat performance by Ponderosa’s wrestlers looking back at the McNellis era.
“When we won in 1997, we won with the exact same weight -- 140-through 160 -- that we won with tonight,” said McNellis, a two-time state champion from Ponderosa when he wrestled for the Mustangs in 1996 (130) and 1997 (145). Jake and Danny Kelly wrestled smart. Steven Kelly and Austin Gabel had tremendous matches, probably their best matches of the tournament. In 1997 they called us Murders Row. Now you can call it Murders Row 2.”
The finals got under way with the 103-pound match -- it was the only one in the 5A tournament that featured unbeaten wrestlers. That’s where Grand Junction Central’s Matthew Gurule won his second title at the weight, with a 4-2 victory against Pine Creek’s Josh Martinez.
“I knew he was good as I went to Florida with him over the summer,” said Gurule, a junior who finished the season, 42-0, dropping Martinez to 45-1. “He transferred in from Oregon and he’s really good in Greco. We never wrestled each other, though. I try to think of this as another match, another tournament and not to overlook anyone.”
Rocky Mountain’s Jeremey Schmitt felt much redemption, too, as he regained his lost title from a year ago. Schmitt beat Pomona’s Dominic Madril, 7-4 for the 112-pound title.
“I had to come back from shoulder surgery at the end of last season and I’m finally not sick, either,” said Schmitt (38-4). “My teammates helped me out a lot and I was not going to underestimate him.
“I just had to fight extra hard to keep the score close,” said Schmitt, who won at 103 in 2007. “It was pretty frustrating at times, because I don’t like wrestling on the edge of the mat and that’s where he wanted to go. I just wanted to remain patient and not do anything stupid.”
Loveland’s Josh Kreimier, who won the 119-pound title a year ago, was not able to win his second title, this year at 135. Rocky Mountain’s Tino Laureles came through with a 7-6 victory, also the rubber match this season between the pair.
“I knew that he was going to come out after me hard as we are 1-1 this season,” said Laureles, 37-3. “We were going to butt heads and that’s just what happened. I tried to go out and give it my all and he took me to the edge. Getting pinned in our first match was an eye opener.”
CLASS 5A CHAMPIONSHIP MATCHES
103 pounds: Matthew Gurule, Grand Junction Central, Jr. (42-0), def. Josh Martinez, Pine Creek, So. (45-0), 4-2. 112: Jeremey Schmitt, Rocky Mountain, Jr. (38-4), def. Dominic Madril, Pomona, Sr. (39-7), 7-4. 119: Phil Grout, Northglenn, Sr. (42-1), def. Eric Wilson, Grandview, Sr. (43-5), 5-3. 125: Kurtis Nelson, Chaparral, Jr. (32-5), def. Conor McElhany, Coronado, So. (41-3), 8-6. 130: Gavin Peters, Standley Lake, Sr. (47-1), def. Caleb McDowell, Chaparral, Sr. (43-6), 13-1. 135: Tino Laureles, Rocky Mountain, Sr. (37-3) def. Josh Kreimier, Loveland, Sr. (39-3), 7-6. 140: Jake Snider, Ponderosa, Jr. (36-2), def. Nathan Burak, Coronado, So. (41-6), 4-3. 145: Daniel Kelly, Ponderosa, Sr. (41-2) def. Robby DePontbraiand, Douglas County, Sr. (41-9), 3-2. 152: Steven Kelly, Ponderosa, Jr. (37-5) def. Scott Lohndorf, Fairview, Sr. (43-5), 5-1. 160: Austin Gabel, Ponderosa, So. (21-3) def. Bryce Thurston, Chaparral, Sr. (37-12), 12-4. 171: Mike Morgan, Lakewood, Sr. (36-2) def. Taylor Tementozzi, Fruita Monument, Sr. (37-9), 2-0. 189: Danny Mitchell, Legacy, Sr. (23-0) pinned Connor Stevens, Pine Creek, Jr. (40-8), 1:40. 215: Connor Medbery, Loveland, So. (40-0) pinned Donny Haupt, Pomona, Sr. (37-4), 2:43. 285: Moises Alcala, Westminster, Sr. (42-2) pinned Lane Stuht, Loveland, Sr. (32-3), 2:11.