Updated: February 25, 2014 at 12:50 pm
Justin Petrash and Sam Turner are 165 pounds apart, but both wrestlers have something in common - they're state champions.
Petrash, a 285-pounder from Air Academy, and Turner, a 120-pounder from Discovery Canyon, each won state championship matches Saturday by decision.
For Petrash, a senior wrestling his final high school match, it was the culmination of four years of hard work and gradual improvement. After failing to qualify for the state tournament as a sophomore, Petrash placed fourth last season before winning it all.
"It was even better than how I pictured it, and it felt like I was in a movie," Petrash said of the moments after his 5-0 win over Broomfield's Austyn Harris. "My friends were pretty much sitting ringside with my parents, and right after I won I got to go over and hug them."
After a 37-3 regular season, Petrash defeated Harris 3-2 in the regional finals. It wasn't nearly that close in the state title match.
The win was something that Petrash had envisioned a year earlier, when he decided to give himself a daily reminder of his goal for his senior year.
"In the offseason after junior year I wrote 'State Champion 2014' on my bathroom mirror, and it would remind me to work harder and improve on what I needed to fix every day," Petrash said. "I started telling myself I wanted it more than anyone else in the state."
The phrase Petrash wrote on his mirror came true, something Air Academy coach Blue Anderson wasn't surprised to see.
"Justin has always been willing to put in the time and effort," Anderson said. "He soaks stuff up like a sponge and is constantly asking questions and wanting to get better. He's been a pleasure to coach the last four years. It's been awesome watching his progress and I couldn't ask for a better athlete or kid to coach."
For Turner, winning a state championship is something that runs in the family. His older brother, Steve, was the 120-pound state champion in 2012 while at Discovery Canyon.
Sam Turner defeated Pueblo County's Chris Sandoval in a 5-3 decision, which gave him the same title his brother owned. Turner is the fourth state wrestling champ in the school's young history.
"It made me feel great and it validates all the work I put in," Turner said. "My family, teammates and brother were on the side of the mat. Steve used to hold it over my head that he won a state title, until Saturday."
Turner compiled a 39-2 record as a sophomore, a year after finishing second in the state. He said the experience of being there previously helped.
"I was much more prepared and less nervous," Turner said. "It's been my goal to win state, but I wouldn't have expected it to happen this quickly. It was thrilling for the whole family and an amazing moment for all of us, but I have to keep improving my skills and reach for the next level as far as competition nationally."