DENVER – Cody Soulka didn’t have much success at last year’s state 4A wrestling tournament, but it wasn’t a total loss. His twin brother, Kyle, finished fifth.
So when Cody continued his run through the 152-pound bracket Friday with a pair of wins that put him in Saturday’s championship bout, he reflected on his previous disappointment that has fueled his resurgence.
“You almost have to get pounded a time to realize what it takes to win here,” Cody Soulka said. “This is pretty big. I went 2-2 and didn’t even place. I’m not just happy to be here. I want to win it. Hopefully, my brother can come back and get third.”
Kyle Soulka, who moved into the semifinals with a 9-5 decision over Erie’s Ladd Bunker earlier in the day, couldn’t make up a three-point deficit in the third period against Francisco Marquez of Thompson Valley, ultimately falling 4-2.
“I made a bad decision by going down in the third, and it’s something I paid for,” Kyle said. “I have to move on and get third now.”
Cody defeated Valor Christian’s John Holst 9-3, hours after a tech fall of Mark Espinosa of Pueblo South in the quarterfinals and a day after a first-minute pin of his first-round opponent.
“I usually come out pretty aggressive, trying to score as much as I can early,” said Cody, who racked up seven quick points in the first 2 minutes.
While the Falcon senior competes for his first state title, Discovery Canyon is pinning its hopes squarely on four of its wrestlers who earned spots in Saturday’s title matches.
Discovery Canyon ended the second day virtually in a dead heat with two-time defending champion Windsor going into Saturday, where several rounds of consolations, and the finals, all count in the final tally.
“We were hopeful for a couple of more,” Thunder coach Ron Sukle said. “We have high expectations for the boys. It was a good day.”
Sam Turner (106), AJ Rees (120), Tyler Oberg (145) and David Traynor (195) all won twice Friday for the right to grapple for a state title. For Rees, he has a chance to win a third. For Turner, it’s a chance to bring a second title to the family after older brother Steve took top honors a year ago.
It didn’t look good early for Sam, a freshman, who quickly fell behind 5-0 and trailed 7-2 after the first two minutes to Broomfield’s Darek Huff, and gained only one point back in the second period.
He gained momentum through the third period, getting to within 7-5 on a reversal and 10-9 on a takedown in the final minute. With 3 seconds left, a Turner takedown and additional point on a stalling penalty gave him the victory and sent him leaping into Sukle’s arms.
“I just kept in there, kept believing,” Turner said. “He was tired, and we all have trained and conditioned for state and these six minutes. I was just so happy to get him taken down at the end.”
Rees had no trouble in his semifinal, recording a pin 45 seconds into the second period, while Oberg needed three overtimes, winning in a tiebreaker, 2-1 over Chad Ellis of Berthoud.
Later, Traynor dominated from the opening whistle against Logan Longworth of Weld County, earning a title bout against top-seeded Garet Krohn of Arvada West on Saturday.
Amond returns to finish business
Cheyenne Mountain senior Bobby Amond, who was runner-up at 132 pounds last year, moved into the 126 finals Saturday after a pair of convincing wins. He recorded a 14-5 major decision over Thompson Valley’s Ben Hewson, then dominated Jimmy Fate of Berthoud, 12-6 in the semifinals.
No rematch among local heavyweights
Last week at the Region 1 meet at Discovery Canyon, previously undefeated Tuli Laulu of Sand Creek and Air Academy’s Justin Petrash met for the third time this season, with Petrash finally getting the upperhand.
However, both fell in Friday’s semifinals. Top-seeded Dakota Gulley gutted out a 1-0 decision over Laulu, while Petrash was pinned by Windsor’s Robert Bishop-Cotner in 1:35.
Other locals fall in semis
Mesa Ridge’s Brandon Gonzales withdrew from his 119 semifinal bout just 51 seconds in after suffering a knee injury. Teammate Dominique Hughes fell 12-4 in his bid to reach the finals at 145 pounds. Woodland Park senior Thomas Chisholm, whose quarterfinal pin erased a deficit, was overpowered by Montezuma-Cortez’s Seager Oliver in the semifinals, 13-1. Another local showdown in the finals fell by the boards when both Adrian Mack of Discovery Canyon and Caleb Cuneio of Air Academy fell in their semifinal matches at 170 pounds.