DENVER — The spectacle that is the Colorado state wrestling tournament can overwhelm the most seasoned of grapplers.

It would be understandable that freshmen would be susceptible to an early hiccup under the lights.

Both Broomfield's Darren Green and Legacy's Joey Joiner walked into the Pepsi Center on Thursday night with an heir of confidence and it showed on the mat. Each of them recorded first round Class 5A wins in their respective weight classes to move on to the state quarterfinals.

"It's not just freshman either, it can any first year wrestler that steps in, even a senior, this is a big event," Legacy coach Mike Thompson said. "We have a different approach to this tournament with the mental approach to it."

Legacy’s Joey Joiner looks at the clock in the final seconds of a Class 5A 126-pound match against Denver East’s Polo Garcia.
Legacy's Joey Joiner looks at the clock in the final seconds of a Class 5A 126-pound match against Denver East's Polo Garcia. (Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer)

It paid off for Joiner, the only freshman in the 126-pound bracket, against Denver East's Polo Garcia.

As a slight underdog, just based on state tournament experience alone, Joiner took the lead on Garcia late in the second period and nearly finished the match with a pin, but earned three valuable near-fall points to garner momentum.

Tied 6-6 in the third, Garcia felt confident enough that he could take down Joiner again that he cut him free to give him a 7-6 lead.

"I wasn't really surprised, because the first takedown I was wrestling sloppy and it was pretty easy for him," said Joiner, who made Garcia pay with a takedown of his own to go up 9-6. "I wasn't really coming in here expecting anything and just went out and pressured him."


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Joiner would win by that same score and earned a quarterfinal match against Grand Junction senior Tyren Castenguay on Friday afternoon.

"I just want to go in there have a tough match and push him," said Joiner, who sports a 32-13 record. "Hopefully tire him out in the third period so I can get the win."

Green came in with a little bit loftier expectations. With a nifty 31-7 record entering the state tournament, it didn't take long for him to make a home in the top 10 of Tim Yount's On The Mat rankings this season.

Green's first round match against Aurora Central junior Octavio Lopez went just as he drew it up in his mind. A first period takedown and another in the second, combined with some nearfall points eventually led to a pinfall victory at 3 minutes, 51 seconds.

"I just went out there acting like it is a normal tournament," said Green, who will draw Overland's Isaiah Bradley in the quarterfinals. "I just want to go out there and compete."

Said Broomfield coach Pat DeCamillis, whose four wrestlers he brought all won on Thursday night: "I told (Darren) to just keep doing what he was doing. I don't think you change things up, you just keep wrestling. The guys that win here, don't change things up, they just wrestle."

Jon Yunt: yuntj@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/JonEYunt