Coronado High School graduate Henry Cejudo

Coronado High School graduate Henry Cejudo celebrates his win against Demetrious Johnson during their UFC flyweight title bout at UFC 227 on Aug. 4, 2018, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It completed a goal the 2008 Olympic gold-medal wrestler set when he was 17.

Coronado High School graduate Henry Cejudo (Class of 2006) recently made headlines when he retained his Ultimate Fighting Championship Flyweight title.

He is No. 5 in the official UFC pound-for-pound rankings.

One of my many joys as a sports writer was covering Cejudo when he was wrestling for Coronado; he won consecutive state titles in 2005 and 2006 at the Pepsi Center.

Just how good was Cejudo as a prep? Put it this way, I believe he could have pinned 95 percent of his opponents within a minute if he had chosen to do so. But that would have taken the fun out of it for him.

Instead, Cejudo pointed his opponents to defeat. They stood no chance against the skilled wrestler.

Cejudo was 25-0 as a senior when he won the 125-pound class, and 23-0 as a junior when he won the 119-pound state title. The reason he didn’t have more matches was because he was busy wrestling in national tournaments, preparing for his goal of winning Olympic gold, which he did so in 2008 at the Beijing Summer Games. He was just 21 when he earned a gold medal.

Cejudo was already a bit of a celebrity before the Beijing Games, but after that, he was definitely swamped with even greater international acclaim. Before long, he was a spokesman for events like the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

Another big thrill for me was interviewing Cejudo in 2009 during a Hill Climb press conference. He wore his Olympic medal and fielded a number of questions from reporters as he pumped up that year’s Hill Climb.

Cejudo came to Colorado to train as a resident athlete at the United States Olympic Training Center. A year after graduating from Coronado, Cejudo won a gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games. He was actually a three-time gold medalist of the Pan American Championships and captured a bronze medal in the 2007 Wrestling World Cup.

He also competed in the World Championships in 2007.

Cejudo was a two-time U.S. Open champion and became the first high-school wrestler to win the U.S. Nationals in freestyle since USA Wrestling became the sport’s national governing body in 1983.

As a high-school senior, he was named ASICS National High School Wrestler of the Year in 2006 and was selected to Wrestling USA Magazine’s Dream Team of High School All-Americans.

Last year, he was inducted into the prestigious National Wresting Hall of Fame. And here’s your Sidelines fun fact of the week: President Abraham Lincoln is also a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Way to go, Henry. Keep up the great work.

Danny Summers has been covering sports at all levels in the Pikes Peak region since 2001. Send your story ideas and feedback to danny.summers@pikespeaknewspapers.com.

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