BOULDER — His teammates affectionately refer to him as "Beefcake."
We won't get into the reasons behind it, and frankly, Boulder's Liam Henderson doesn't really care.
It was that cool, calm and collected attitude that led him to the top of the podium on Saturday night at Fairview's Mike Stanley Invitational.
"I really didn't have a lot of expectations, I just wanted to wrestle and have fun," said Henderson after he received his medal from Susan Stanley, the widow of the tournaments namesake that passed away this spring.
"In past years, I've taken it really seriously and struggled. It has been the key for me, to have fun with it, but at the same time try my hardest."
Henderson battled his way through the bottom half of the 182-pound bracket with pins in each of his first two matches, including in the semifinals against Palmer Ridge's Aidan Cullen.
"I tried not to think too much in that match, because you tend to over think things," said Henderson, who dabbles in bike racing as well. "The guy ended up getting hurt, and I felt pretty bad about that, but wrestling is wrestling and stuff like that happens."
In the final against Gateway's Elijah Kelly, neither grappler gave much ground, and Henderson scored a penalty point in the first period and then got an escape in the second for the points in his 2-1 decision.
"I feel like my final was my worst match actually," said Henderson, who improved to 5-1 after one week of competition. "I thought too much and took it too seriously."
Henderson wasn't the only Panthers wrestler to make the final. Steven Marics lost in the 126 pound final to Hinkley's Rafael Garibay in 54 seconds.
Niwot's Tommy Stager continued his winning ways, cruising through the 132-pound bracket. He pinned his way to the championship match, where he closed out the tournament with a pin of Littleton's Poe Di in 3:00.
"There were some tough kids here, especially in my bracket and that kid I wrestled in the semis (Denver West's Gabriel Orozco) was tough, but I did get to work on a few things today," said Stager, whose December goals — that include national tournaments over the holiday break — are rather simple. "It is to get as good as I can as fast as I can."
Silver Creek finished third in the team standing behind two champions. Justis Evans beat Niwot's Aaron Nicoll for the second time in three days for the title at 160 pounds and the Raptors' Kenny Jones went 4-0 in a five-man round-robin format to win at 220 pounds.
"I wrestled him before and I just didn't feel real sure of that match, it kind of ended too quickly," said Evans, who was all taped up to protect a mat burn on the side of his eye. "It feel great. It is a personal accomplishment for me and I am also glad to pull my weight on the team."
Skyline newcomer David Finley, from Montana, made it to the finals in the 152-pound bracket, but was beat on a controversial no-call in the finals against Denver South's Colin Saiz. The Rebels grappler appeared to get Finley on his back by virtue of tugging on his singlet, something the referee didn't see until after the fact.
Finley took it all in stride and seemed happy to represent the Falcons on the podium.
"he was a good wrestler and we respected each other quite a bit," said Finley, who was 3-3 in the match when he got pinned. "We shook hands, I just gritted my teeth and got what I could get."
Fairview took second place in their own tournament with 72.5 points to champions Fort Collins with 101.5.
The Knights duo of Brock Granberg and Jeremy Robinson each lost in the final. Caleb Bergeson placed third at 182 pounds.
MIKE STANLEY INVITATIONAL
Team scores — Fort Collins 101.5, Fairview 72.5, Silver Creek 70, Denver West 67, Overland 62, Gateway 60, Niwot 58, Boulder 57, Hinkley 56, Palmer Ridge 56, Rock Canyon 39, Denver North 38, Skyline 38, Lyons 35, Denver South 33.5, Littleton 23.5, John F. Kennedy 23, Arvada 20, Evergreen 20, Estes Park 14, Standley Lake 7.
106 — Jake Rickerman, Palmer Ridge dec. Treyvon Hodges, Overland, 6-4.
113 — Abdi Muse, Denver West dec. Jared Garcia, Denver North, 10-5.
120 — Nick Stiltner, Palmer Ridge dec. Andrew Castro, Rock Canyon, 4-3.
126 — Rafael Garibay, Hinkley pinned Steven Marics, Boulder, :54.
132 — Tommy Stager, Niwot pinned Poe Di, Littleton, 3:00.
138 — Josh Boulton, Fort Collins dec. Brock Granberg, Fairview, 8-2.
145 — Sergio Chavez, Hinkley won by forfeit over Brandon Gustafson, Overland.
152 — Colin Saiz, Denver South pinned David Finley, Skyline, 2:34.
160 — Justis Evans, Silver Creek dec. Aaron Nicoll, Niwot, 8-4.
170 — Charles Reigies, Gateway pinned Keegan Bean, Lyons, 2:28.
182 — Liam Henderson, Boulder dec. Elijah Kelly, Gateway, 2-1.
195 — Chris Padilla, Denver West pinned Jeremy Robinson, Fairview, 4:31.
220 (5 wrestlers in a round robin format)— Kenny Jones, Silver Creek (4-0); Joe Colucci, Boulder (3-1).
285 — Josias Chavez, Denver North pinned Jonathon Engle, Fort Collins, 5:07.