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Woodland Park freshman Brady Hankin hugs his teammates Colton Simonis, center, and Zach Dooley after winning the Class 3A 106-pound state title at the 2019 State Wrestling Championship at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (Photo by Kelsey Brunner/The Gazette)

DENVER • If there was one word to describe this year’s state wrestling champions from the Pikes Peak region, it’d be this: memorable.

Saturday night’s championship matches at the Pepsi Center featured nine area grapplers, but only four came home with gold medals.

Discovery Canyon’s Patrick Allis and The Classical Academy’s Nathan Johns both won back-to-back state championships, while Woodland Park’s Brady Hankin and Elizabeth’s Abe Leonard won their first titles.

Allis might have had the most emotional win.

After he defeated Pueblo East’s Ryan Roth for a third time this season, he grabbed a T-shirt and waved it to the crowd at the Pepsi Center. It honored teammate and childhood friend Kaden Currier, who, along with his girlfriend and fellow Discovery Canyon student Avory Kale, died in a car crash in late December.

The back of the shirt featured Currier’s image.

“I wanted to do it for him,” Allis said.

Johns, the TCA senior, pointed to the sky after he beat Glenwood Springs junior Amos Wilson, who entered their Class 3A 182-pound final with a 48-0 record. Johns finished with a 35-1 record.

One of the quickest wins on this night came from Woodland Park’s Hankin. He pinned his opponent, Alamosa’s Davion Chavez, in the second round to earn his first state title.

They wrestled earlier this season, and Hankin came out as the winner.

That made Hankin confident about the win, as he said, “I was in his head.”

Then, there was Elizabeth’s Leonard.

He earned a 4-2 decision over Salida’s Holt Brashears, who entered with an 11-0 record.

Leonard finished his senior year with a 35-2 record.

Several other area wrestlers had an impressive showing at the state tournament.

Doherty junior Tyson Beauperthuy (152, 5A), Canon City senior James Ruona (132, 4A), Coronado senior KJ Kearns (160, 4A), Cheyenne Mountain freshman Nico Gagliardi (195, 4A) and Canon City senior Gage Pruitt (220, 4A) all finished second.

Ruona’s run was particularly noteworthy, considering he finally made it to the state finals after settling for third the three previous years.

Last year, seven wrestlers from the Pikes Peak region made it to the finals and five came out on top.

Chhun Sun is a sports reporter with an emphasis in preps. He joined The Gazette in April 2015 and covered public safety for three years before joining @gazettepreps staff. The Thailand-born Cambodian-American has been in journalism for nearly two decades.

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