Top youth wrestlers compete last weekend in Gilpin meet
by Jeff Warner
Gilpin County Youth Wrestling
The Crazy Train stopped in Gilpin County on Saturday, January 7, and the result was some of the highest-quality youth wrestling seen this season in Colorado. In the Rocky Mountain region, “Crazy Train” is the unofficial moniker for the circuit traveled by the top youth wrestlers; with no other Colorado youth tournaments scheduled last weekend, many of those wrestlers were at the Gilpin meet, held at Gilpin County School.
“Many of the state’s best young wrestlers were here today,” said Gilpin Coach Pete Morgan. “It meant some very difficult matches for our less experienced wrestlers, which means they had a chance to learn a lot. It also gave some of our best kids the chance to compete here at home.”
Joseph Airola, Benjamin Gebhart, and Cooley Murdock were all dominant in their divisions, scoring first-place finishes at the first post-holiday Metro Junior Wrestling League tournament. The entire Gilpin County Youth Wrestling Club posted a strong performance just two weeks before the Metro League Regionals.
Airola wrestled in one of the most stiffly competitive divisions, U12 84-92. He won all five of his bouts, pinning two competitors and allowing only one opponent to score a single point against him in three one-sided decisions.
“Joey is wrestling at the highest level in the state,” said Morgan. “His dominance in his division was no surprise.”
Yet, the 12-year old Airola was not done. He also wrestled an exhibition match against Dylan Roman, who is a favorite to win his weight class in the Under-14 division of the Metro League. Airola scored an impressive victory, defeating Roman in overtime, 3-1.
In a smaller division, Gebhart was completely dominant, winning each match by pin before the end of the first period.
Murdock pinned every opponent until his final match, which he won with a hard-fought 6-2 decision over Leo Echevarria of Denver North.
Still, the youth league is all about development, and Coach Morgan said that the highlight of his day came during a match involving a less experienced wrestler. Jett Hanssen, U8 59-62, defeated Adam Fernandes of Erie with a pin early in the second period of their match.
“Jett has worked so hard as a new wrestler. He made a move and put this kid on his back, and it was so sudden and surprising. I love seeing a young kid like Jett come of age, have a breakthrough,” said Morgan.
Roland Keller, Ryan Hanssen, and Joey Morgan placed third in their respective divisions for the Eagles. Ryan Hanssen’s day was highlighted by a pin of Brock Churchill from the Colorado Wrestling club, and Joey Morgan similarly won by fall over Mile High’s Parker Daugherty.
A total of 17 Gilpin wrestlers competed, in spite of sickness which forced several Eagles to skip this competition. Other Eagles who took to the mat were U8 Elijah Warner, U10s Toby Scott, Mason Sechler, Michael Depintos-Jones, and Davyn Meade, U12s Dusty Lebeau, Bradly Robinson, Brandon Robinson, and William Siegrist. Daisy Murdoch, in her first tournament, showed a lot of promise in U10 46-48.
High School Wrestling
Saturday was also an excellent day for the Eagles high schoolers, with Josh Trujillo scoring impressive victories on his way to winning the 145-pound division at Bennett High School. Teammate Mike Wenholz, at 113 pounds, remained perfect until the semi-finals of his class, finishing in fourth place.
“Michael ran into the wrong kids twice in his bracket, but he wrestled very well,” said Morgan. “He is a bruiser. At one point in a very competitive match, he slammed the other kid so hard that he pretty much gave up, and Mike quickly pinned him.”
Among the teams at this meet were 5A Overland and 4A Air Academy. Although Gilpin does not have enough wrestlers to compete seriously for team honors, the Eagles received more points per wrestler than any other team at the meet.
As for Trujillo, Morgan said that stats alone did not tell the whole story. “Josh dominated everybody, even though the scores were not all one-sided. He is very strong and wrestles each match extremely well,” he said. In the final, Trujillo defeated Mason Wakeham of Bennett High School, 9-2.