DENVER — It is amazing what a loss will do to the physche.
Legacy's Nolan Funk missed out on the state tournament two years ago and it was something that has been stuck in his craw ever since.
On Friday night at the Pepsi Center in the Class 5A state semifinals, against a familiar opponent, Funk was clinical in his win over Arvada West's Zack Gomez. He scored a 13-1 major decision and will have a chance to fulfill his state championship mission on Saturday night against Mountain Vista's Trenton Schultz.
And Funk does not take the typical approach of Saturday being 'just another match.'
"It's anything but just another match," said Funk, who upped his season record to 45-1. "It's huge."
Funk, who had pinned Gomez in the semifinals at the Top of the Rockies in January, went out quick against him on Friday and could sense his opponent was gassed in the second period. He pounced.
Already with a 3-1 lead, Funk wasn't satisfied and another takedown and two more near fall points built the lead to 7-1 after four minutes.
"It's both good and bad to have seen him before, good because you know what to expect and also bad, because like I just said, you know what to expect," said Funk, who along with 138-pound senior Ryan Deakin will become the first Legacy duo to wrestle for a state title on the same night.
"I knew I needed to come out hard and keep a heavy pace and I knew he was going to break."
Deakin, who will be making his third straight title appearance and in search of his first title since 2014, made quick work of Palmer's Dre Son Scruggs. He pinned is way to the championship match in just 1:21 of the first period.
The Lightning, who are still in contention for some hardware in the team race, suffered an unexpected loss at 182 pounds. Senior Matt Hebel was beaten by Douglas County's Donnie Negus 5-3 in overtime and will have to earn points for his team in the consolation round.
The same thing will apply to heavyweight Tui Fa'amausili who was pinned in the third period by Fruita Monument's Clayton Voytilla.
"Matt is going to have to show what he is made of and come back and wrestle for third, just like Drian (Hays) and Tui," said Legacy coach Mike Thompson, whose team is in third place with 74 points — just four behind Pine Creek's 78. "It shows a lot of guts to come back and get third, so hopefully they will be able to do that."
The Parade of Champions will get underway at approximately 6:15 on Saturday night.