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Rees wins third state title to help Thunder to second in 4A
DENVER â€¢ AJ Rees didnâ€™t strut, dance or show much emotion, even after he won his third 4A state wrestling championship Saturday at the Pepsi Center.
Unfortunately, none of his teammates did, as the Thunderâ€™s dream of claiming its first team title fell short with a second-place finish, the highest in school history.
â€œItâ€™s bittersweet,â€ Thunder coach Ron Sukle said. â€œWe came in with expectations of coming home with first. The boys wrestled hard, and we came home with a trophy. Iâ€™m proud of what they did.â€
Broomfield rallied to take the state 4A title with 140.5 points. Discovery Canyon, which ended Friday with a slim, five-point lead but entered Saturdayâ€™s championship matches down by five, finished the three-day tournament second with 129.5 points. Windsor, which had won the previous two team crowns, finished third with 129 points.
â€œWeâ€™ve got to enjoy this moment,â€ Sukle said. â€œWeâ€™re going to take some time off and get back to work. We have four placers coming back. Good things are going to happen.â€
Rees, an Iowa State commit, gave Discovery Canyon its only win of its four finalists, defeating Pueblo Southâ€™s Marcus Martinez, 11-5. Rees improved to 35-1 but couldnâ€™t put away Martinez as he had with other opponents to the tune of two pins and a runaway 16-3 major decision.
â€œThat showed me Iâ€™m not perfect. No one is in the sport,â€ said Rees, who won previous titles as a sophomore and junior after narrowly missing as a freshman. â€œThis sport is my life, and I treat it like a job. I shouldnâ€™t celebrate what I feel like Iâ€™m supposed to do. Iâ€™m not going to let this be the pinnacle of my career.â€
Martinez, who lost to Rees two weeks ago in the region final at Discovery Canyon, applauded Reesâ€™ ability.
â€œHeâ€™s at a whole different level, from skills to conditioning,â€ Martinez said. â€œHeâ€™s amazing. Heâ€™s always coming at you 100 percent and out-wrestled me again. He never stops.â€
Freshman Sam Turner started things off for the Thunder in the 106-pound final, facing off against undefeated Dalton Robertson of Weld County. Turner, the younger brother of Steve Turner, who won a state title last year, took a 5-3 lead early in the second period after recording a reversal and a takedown while holding his ground.
But Robertson struck back with a takedown and reversal, scoring eight unanswered points in taking an 11-5 lead. Four quick points at the end werenâ€™t enough this time for Turner, who earned three points with 3 seconds remaining in his semifinal Friday.
At 145 pounds, Thunder junior Tyler Oberg faced a tough task in opponent Phil Downing, a two-time 4A state champion. Downing took a quick 2-0 lead in the first on a reversal, then took over in the second two-minute session with an escape point, reversal, three-point near fall and another reversal. By then, it was 10-0.
By the time junior David Traynor took to the mat at 195, the Thunderâ€™s chase for the team title was mathematically out of reach. Traynor, facing nationally ranked, unbeaten and two-time defending state champion Garet Krohn of Arvada, suffered a loss by tech fall, 24-9.
â€œI can only get better from wrestling a guy like him,â€ Traynor said. â€œIt shows me what I need to work on. Weâ€™re all coming back to win the state title next year.â€