DENVER — The past several years have been Parker Simington's time and it is hard to imagine that anything was going to keep him from winning his third straight state title.
The difficult task of trying to knock Simington off the pedestal fell to Longmont freshman Drake Engelking.
Engelking wrestled his way through the 4A 160-pound state tournament bracket and took on Simington in the championship match at the Pepsi Center on Saturday night. Despite his best effort, Engelking lost to the Thompson Valley senior by way of a 20-5 technical fall in the second period.
"That's the three-time state champion right there," Engelking said. "He earned it. He's a great wrestler and I gave him my best shot. He's tough."
Simington (44-0) has won three consecutive state titles and 97 matches in a row. Engelking (26-3), who won an overtime semifinal against Cheyenne Mountain junior Zac Baker to reach the title match, had an undeniably impressive season of his own.
Of Engelking's three losses, two were to Simington and the other was to Poudre's Diego Calderon, who placed third in the 5A 152-pound bracket on Saturday night. For a freshman to place as highly as Engelking did against the type of competition he faced in 2016 is uncommon to say the least.
"The 160 weight class was really great this year," Engelking said. "I felt like I could have done a little bit better, been a little bit better. Winning the semis in overtime was great and I took second at the Tulsa Nationals so overall finishing second this season was pretty good."
Trojans head coach Matt Engelking, who was a two-time state placer for Longmont High and is Drake Engelking's father, thoroughly enjoyed watching his son battle it out against the state's best competition throughout the season. While it seemed likely that Drake Engelking's age would inevitably catch up with him, the fact that it took a three-time state champion to make that happen impressed even Matt Engelking.
"Freshmen typically don't do those things, not at 160 pounds," Matt Engelking said. "As freshmen, no matter what weight class they're at, they take their licks. No matter what skill level they're at, they take their licks. I think what we saw tonight was Drake taking his freshman licks."
Also bringing home a medal for Longmont, junior Nathan Morris reached the 152-pound third-place match before ultimately falling to Cheyenne Mountains' Luke White, 3-1 in overtime.
As a team, the Trojans finished in the top 15 with just three wrestlers.