DENVER — The clock’s ticking, and Patrick Allis can hear it. Sounds like Tiger Woods thumping a Titleist into a gong.
Allis heard it the other day when tears welled up in his eyeballs. He didn’t cry — guess there’s not supposed to be crying in wrestling — when Discovery Canyon coach and cool dude Marques Bravo told Allis to “break us down” to close practice. It was Allis' final practice at DC.
“Then I’m driving home and it hits me,” Allis shared Friday night. “Got a little emotional.”
Because it’s coming. The tears are unavoidable. Allis is a senior, a state champ, and Saturday a ridiculously good high school career will be over. The 126-pounder can defend his title in one of the premier matchups of this state tournament at Pepsi Center — Class 3A or otherwise.
Patrick Allis (Discovery Canyon) vs. Ryan Roth (Pueblo East) for all the burritos. The No. 1 wrestler in 3A this season vs. the No. 2 wrestler this season. Who's got popcorn ready to pop?
“You work so hard, have so much help, to get this far,” Allis said. "I think now that it's my last time, you think about it so much at the end."
And when it’s over — win or lose, and both Allis and Roth told me they feel "great" about their chances — it’s going to be emotional.
The reason for that is what I learned quickest about Allis: he’s got a shot to be a two-time state champ not only because he was gifted a Gumby body that allows him to twist into a pretzel. His edge comes from something I like to call a care factor. Allis’ care factor is so high it threatened to blow the Joe Sakic jersey off the roof at Pepsi Center. He’s a teenager who said he wants to thank everyone in the Discovery Canyon wrestling program — Bravo, Coach “TC” (who calls him “Champ), his teammates — before he’s even left them. That level of care factor can take a talented athlete a long way.
“He can pass me up in college,” said Bravo, the coach.
OK, now that’s saying something. If you see Bravo grappling one of these rogue mountain lions roaming around, help the cat. Bravo was a four-time NCAA tournament qualifier and two-time All-American at Western State. He was college roommates with Western State (now Western Colorado) coach Charlie Pipher, who recruited Allis to Gunnison.
And this kid is going to pass you up in college?
“He’s special. He really is. You get special kids like Pat and you just try to lead them the right way and get as much out of him as you can,” Bravo said. “Guys (like that) don’t come around that often. We’re lucky. Great kid, great family.”
This state tournament in particular has been a good old-fashioned kick in the pants. There was this one semifinal match Friday that had fans of Eaglecrest, Cheyenne Mountain and Chaparral screaming like their kids were wrestling, and they weren’t.
Pomona’s Theorius Robison was here shooting for the super-rare four-peat ... and Regis Jesuit’s Antonio Segura pinned him in extra time.
Goosebumps. And a little sadness, because for Robison it’s over. He sprinted off the mat in tears.
“Get off me!” he yelled at a Regis Jesuit coach, who should know better than to hug a kid who lost in extra time, in a state tournament, where he had never lost, about 20 seconds ago.
Back to Allis vs. Roth. Popcorn time.
“There’s no way I’m going to be able to sleep tonight,” Roth told me after earning a third matchup this season against Allis — this time in the state championship.
Allis won both of the previous matches, 11-5 and 10-8, and there’s juice to this mini-rivalry. Both guys said they were rooting for the other one to win his semifinal. They wanted this.
Allis: “It’s going to be the toughest match I’ve had all season. There’s no doubt about it. But I know that if I wrestle the way I have been lately, I’m going to be OK. I feel great about it.”
Roth: “He’s a state champ. He’s the real deal. He got me twice, so I’m glad it’s us. (I'm) going to put as many points up there as possible and this time we’re going to reverse that (streak).”
Tick, tock, tick, tock.