LAFAYETTE — The branches of Mark Schmidt's legacy at Centaurus are far reaching.
The legendary Warriors coach had his fair share of champions during his 20-plus year run as head coach, and as fate would have it on Saturday night in the finals of the Top of the Rockies, two of his champs' sons met in the finals.
Broomfield's Connor Ventura (son of Darren Ventura, a 1985 title winner for Centaurus) and Brighton's Jeremiah Ellerd (son of Jeremiah Ellerd, Sr., a 1993 champion) met to decide the 170-pound title.
"My dad always talked about this tournament and how cool it would be to get one here," said Ventura, who scored an 8-7 victory over the Bulldogs sophomore. "I finally made it come true."
With his right knee heavily wrapped to protect a nagging case of bursitis, Ventura fell behind quickly 4-0 in the first period but cut the lead to 4-3 by the first two minutes.
Ventura, currently ranked No. 3 in his weight class by On the Mat rankings, appeared to be in control when he built his lead to 7-4 in the third. But Ellerd rallied and with under a minute to go tied the match at 7-7.
"I came expecting that, but I set my hopes pretty high," said Ventura, who earned his victorious escape with 18 seconds left. "I knew I was wrestling a tough kid."
Ventura made it to the finals with a big 3-2 win in the semifinals over Pomona's Cameron Gonzales.
You don't often see Legacy's 138-pound stud Ryan Deakin get pushed to the limit. On Saturday, the two-time Top of the Rockies champion had to work hard to get No. 3 against Pueblo County's top-ranked Chris Sandoval.
"It's always good to have those close ones and have to pull it out at the end," Deakin said. "Those are the important ones, when you have to figure out a way to win."
Knotted 6-6 in the waning moments of the match, Deakin sensed that his opponent was gassed and scored a take-down with 20 seconds left that proved to be the difference in an 8-6 decision.
"Once I got him down I could see his head go on the mat and his body language, and you know when you break someone," said Deakin, who was named outstanding wrestler in the smaller weights. "You know when you get that take-down whether they are still fighting or not."
Also winning a title for Legacy was 195-pound senior Nolan Funk. He made quick work of Cheyenne East's Kevin Doughty via pin fall just 25 seconds into the second period.
"I had a rough week last week just being sick and coming back from that and coming out here and wrestling tough shows me that I'm back to where I need to be for the rest of the season," said the third-ranked Funk, who pinned the No. 2 Zach Gomez of Arvada West in the semifinals.
The lone setback of the finals for Legacy came at 182-pounds. Undefeated Matt Hebel drew Weld Central's undefeated Dalton Robertson and got beat 10-1.
Lightning coach Mike Thompson knows it was a learning experience for his top-ranked big-man.
"He's just got to pick his head up and use it as a building block," said Thompson, whose team finished third overall behind Pomona (209 points) and Pueblo County (181) with 163.5 points. "It'll build some fire back up in the belly and build from it.
"There are some things we can critique from it and adjust some of the things he did, but he's got to finish the tournament. He didn't wrestle that match like he did the semifinals."
Other area wrestler of note included: Broomfield's Brandon Tyson finishing third at 113 pounds and Holy Family's Kolsen Welham taking fourth at 170's, narrowly losing 3-2 in the third-place match to Pomona's Cameron Gonzales.
Mead's Jack Gallegos pinned Legacy's Derek Coleman to place fifth at 220 pounds and Centaurus' Forrest Lalaguna beat the Lightning's Tui Faamausili for fifth at 285 pounds.
TOP OF THE ROCKIES
Team scores — Pomona 209, Pueblo County 181, Legacy 163.5, Grandview 125, Poudre 118.5, Cheyenne East (Wyo.) 102, Pueblo East 96, Grand Island (Neb.) 95.5, Ponderosa 91.5, Rocky Mountain 87, Brighton 81, Broomfield 80, Cherry Creek 79, Mountain Range 78, Thompson valley 76, Fort Morgan 65, Weld Central 65, Scottsbluff (Neb.) 62, Rio Rancho (N.M.) 58, Alamosa 55, Franklin (Tex.) 53, Arvada West 51, Cheyenne Central (Wyo.) 50.5, Chaparral 48, Omaha North (Neb.) 46.5, Brush 39, Fort Lupton 37, Pueblo South 35, Mead 29, Holy Family 26, Centaurus 19.
106 — Andrew Lucero, Pueblo East major dec. Colton Yapoujian, Pomona, 12-2.
113 — Louie Romero, Mountain Range dec. Josiah Nava, Pueblo County, 5-4.
120 — Tomas Gutierrez, Pomona dec. Jody Sandoval II, Fort Lupton, 8-3.
126 — Grant Willits, Pueblo County pinned Theorius Robison, Pomona, 3:11.
132 — Jacob Greenwood, Poudre major dec. Justin Davis, Pueblo County, 13-5.
138 — Ryan Deakin, Legacy dec. Chris Sandoval, Pueblo County, 8-6.
145 — Zack Martinez, Mountain Range dec. Jason Romero, Pomona, 7-4.
152 — Hunter Willits, Pueblo County dec. Matt Finesilver, Cherry Creek, 8-5.
160 — Parker Simington, Thompson Valley tech. fall Seth Green, Cheyenne East, 20-5 (2:57).
170 — Connor Ventura, Broomfield dec. Jeremiah Ellerd, Brighton, 8-7.
182 — Dalton Robertson, Weld Central major dec. Matt Hebel, Legacy, 10-1.
195 — Nolan Funk, Legacy pinned Kevin Doughty, Cheyenne East, 2:25.
220 — Cohl Schultz, Ponderosa pinned Brandon Micale, Pomona, 2:26.
285 — Toby McBride, Fort Morgan dec. Jacob Robles, Pueblo East, 7-4.
Local Third-place matches
113 — Brandon Tyson, Broomfield dec. Josh Nira, Rocky Mountain, 4-0.
170 — Cameron Gonzales, Pomona dec. Kolsen Welham, Holy Family, 3-2.
Local Fifth-place matches
106 — Devan Cogil, Legacy dec. Giovani Federico, Grandview, 6-2.
220 — Jack Gallegos, Mead pinned Derek Coleman, Legacy, 2:34.
285 — Forrest Lalaguna, Centaurus dec. Tui Faamausili, Legacy, 8-2.