Published: January 25, 2014
While 220-pound, tournament-underdog Taylor White was embracing his last-seconds win in the finals, Pine Creek was continuing to add to its lead at Doherty High School, and thus restoring its area dominance in the 14th annual Colorado Springs Metro Championships.
"We are very good. This was kind of our coming-out party," the junior said.
Saturday, White, a six seed, scored a one-point escape in the final seconds against Fountain-Fort Carson's Kadim Phillip, and won an 8-7 decision. The Eagles won two individual titles and placed second in three finals to give Pine Creek its fifth Metro wrestling title in the past eight years with a score of 256. Lewis-Palmer, in its best recent season, was second at 181, and Discovery Canyon came in third at 180.
In the lightest class, 106-pound freshman Jordan Martinez added another win to Pine Creek's day, and followed up his brother, Josh Martinez, and three consecutive Metro titles with one of his own, an 8-6 win over Alec Oberdorfer of Lewis-Palmer.
"My brother is one of my biggest influences. He works with me every day," Jordan said of Josh, who is a nationally ranked wrestler at the Air Force Academy at 125. "This is just a steppingstone."
A steppingstone? Some may have scoffed at that notion three days ago.
At a binocular's view, Pine Creek's dominance at the league meet would have been fairly surprising. Eleven of the Eagles' 14 varsity wrestlers did not wrestle at the varsity level last season, each varsity wrestler had at least four losses and none of them were a top seed.
Pine Creek coach Billy Gabel, however, didn't see it that way. In fact, while some of the state's top wrestlers have been picking on in-state competition, the Eagles were thrown onto the national level twice.
And in two of the biggest national tournaments in the nation, Pine Creek finished 20th (without two starters) out of 111 teams in Reno, Nev., and 18th out of 86 in the "Battle for the Belt" in Temecula Valley, Calif.
"Our kids improved so much with those types of tournaments," Gabel said. "I'm proud of what we're doing. These are good kids that work hard."
Elsewhere in the finals for Pine Creek, Anthony Salazar, No. 9 in 5A, bowed out to Procopio Valdez of Mesa Ridge 13-5 in 113 finals; No. 2 seed Geoffrey Curtis fell at 182 to No. 1 seed Tremell Stanley, also of the Grizzlies; and Chris Cos, who missed most of his sophomore and junior seasons with a multiple injuries, beat high-ranked wrestlers Andrew Register of TCA and Fabian Hermosillo of Ellicott before he fell to last year's 4A state runner-up, Tyler Oberg at 145.