Windsor’s Serrano, Sandoval win titles at state wrestling tournament
February 19, 2017
DENVER — Chris Sandoval spent all season showing why Pueblo County's loss was Windsor's gain, and Saturday he gave the most emphatic proof yet.
The senior won a state title for the Hornets two years ago and was a runner-up as a freshman and junior. Then Pueblo County showed him the door, under circumstances Sandoval was reluctant to discuss.
"They didn't leave me on the best of terms," he said.
Sandoval transferred to Windsor and entered the state tournament at 41-0. Three wins later, his opponent in the 138-pound finals was none other than Justin Davis, his former teammate, "If you could call it that."
Sandoval beat him 8-5 to claim his second state title and cap his undefeated, 45-0 season.
"It feels good," he said after running cooldown laps through the bowels of the Pepsi Center. "Been working four years for it."
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The match was tense from the start, and the animosity between the wrestlers was obvious. Sandoval scored a single-leg takedown 17 seconds in, but Davis quickly reversed and tied the score.
Sandoval took Davis down again at the start of the second period. He controlled the match physically, holding Davis down to the mat and not letting him escape. Davis got his shots in when he could; he poked Sandoval in the eye and shoved him when they went to the center of the mat to reset.
Sandoval didn't let it get to him. "Stupid stuff," he called it. And it didn't make a difference. Sandoval spent most the entire third period in firm control.
He exploded into celebration at the final whistle, pointing to the big "W" on his chest.
"This Windsor team was the best thing that happened to me in a long time," Sandoval said.
The sparring, unfortunately, wasn't over. The Hornets' coaches got in a furious argument with Windsor's fans as they left the mat and had to be ushered away by event personnel. Sandoval wasn't involved, but CHSAA commissioner Paul Angelico forbade him from joining the other 138-pound placers on the podium as they received their awards.
Sandoval eventually got on the podium for a picture, but it was an ugly and unnecessary end to his triumph.
He understandably didn't want to talk about that. Angelico refused to comment on why he didn't allow Sandoval up there in the first place.
SERRANO CAPS STellar freshman year with title
Dominick Serrano, the Wizards' 120-pound freshman, had a more joyous crowd interaction after his final match. He won a 2-0 thriller over Pueblo County's Nathan Bonham, then jumped into the stands and into the arms of his numerous and adoring family.
Serrano joined rare company on Saturday. With his state title, he ended his freshman season 50-0, one win shy of the state record.
"I just had that intensity," he said. "I was pretty confident."
Serrano spent part of last year freestyle wrestling at the Schoolboy PanAmerican Games in Colombia. It's a different kind of wrestling than the folkstyle that's done in high school, but that exposed Serrano to competition the likes of which he doesn't see in Colorado.
"They didn't stop," he said.
Serrano won the gold medal for his weight class in Colombia, and beating such a diverse group of wrestlers gave him an idea of just how good he was. He won a rough match against Bonham earlier this season. That, and his latent confidence, told him that he had the win in his grasp.
"If I just gave it my all, I knew I would come out with a win," Serrano said.
No one scored in the first period as the wrestlers felt each other out. They didn't score in the second, either, because Bonham barely eluded two of Serrano's takedown attempts.
Serrano started the third down and immediately scored with an escape. A minute later, he doubled his slim lead with a near-fall, then rode Bonham's back until the whistle blew.
He was with his family in the stands before he could blink.
"I just want them to know that this is for them," Serrano said.