BROOMFIELD — Kolsen Welham is a bit of late bloomer.
After following in his father Blaze's footsteps and slipping on a singlet for the first time at age 4, Kolsen knew nothing but winning.
It was on the mat, on the baseball diamond and on the gridiron. But he knew very early on that wrestling was his first love.
"My dad put me in it because he wrestled in high school and college," said Kolsen, whose dad was a standout at Skyview High School in the early 1990's. "I started doing that, football and baseball and then just fell in love with wrestling and quit the other sports."
He even gave up wrestling for a time when the going got tough ... that whole late bloomer thing.
"When I was younger, I went from not losing at all for an entire year and then as I started growing, kids started getting stronger — you know the whole testosterone and puberty thing — and I hadn't hit it yet," he recalls. "Kids started beating me and it kind of broke me, so I took some time off and started playing baseball. But freshman year, I got back into it, starting gaining from those losses and getting better."
And he hasn't stopped. After a state runner-up finish last season at 3A 170-pounds, Welham has moved down to 160 pounds and is off to a blazing start in 2016. He is 9-0 early on and will head to Loveland this weekend for the Old Chicago Northern Colorado Tournament that will host 63 of the best teams from all over the state.
"I am anxious to see how he does, because if he is wrestling his best, I don't see how anybody can beat him," Tigers coach Nestor Pino said. "It would be nice to see if we could put a good big tournament together and see what happens."
Welham, who recently committed to Oregon State University, was ever so humble after his run last season that ended with a narrow defeat to Valley's Macoy Flanagan— now wrestling at UNC — in the state title match.
It was the fifth time during Flanagan's perfect 51-0 season that he took down Welham and the second straight year at the Pepsi Center.
"He was just a great wrestler and he worked hard all year and he definitely earned it. The accomplishments he had that year were just phenomenal and if I was going to lose to anyone, it would have to have been him," Welham said. "But being out there and being able to do what I love, whether it was winning or losing, and gaining that experience, I know I have a whole year to learn from it."
The new year will bring all sorts of new challenges with obvious goals in mind. The first big tournament for Welham will be in California at the prestigious Doc Buchanan Invitational — an event that attracts some of the best teams and wrestlers from all over the country (including locals like Monarch, Poudre, Ponderosa and Pueblo County).
"Those are some of the best wrestlers in the country and he pushed hard to say 'Hey coach, I want to go see these guys and compete against these guys,'" said Pino, who will accompany Welham to California. "That's huge and you don't find that in a lot of these guys that actually want to wrestle the best."
It is something that Welham, who begins the season as the top-ranked wrestler at his weight class by On The Mat, hopes will help him meet his ultimate goal.
"Obviously that state championship that I have been hunting for forever. I would like to do well in these big tournaments, going in expecting to lose but also expecting to do well because you learn from everything win or lose," he said. "So I just hope to be on top come February, because that is my biggest goal right now."