BROOMFIELD — The key to winning a state title versus just being happy to land on the podium in February at the Pepsi Center is not dependent on what you do for the four months of the regular season. Rather, it's the time and effort put in during the other eight months.
On Thursday — opening night at Legacy — it was blatantly obvious who had logged the hours. Legacy senior Drian Hays looked every bit the part of a wrestler destined to make a run to the top of the podium.
A bigger, stronger and even faster Hays took care of business in one minute, 17 seconds against Legacy's Trent Brenner — one of the many reasons the Lightning scored a huge 39-37 win over Monarch.
"I had an interesting off season, I decided to compete in my first fitness show, so my training style changed a lot," said the 182-pound Hays, who finished third at 170 pounds last season. "I was doing, on a high day, up to three hours of cardio a day, and my conditioning has never been like this before.
"I just don't get tired."
In his first fitness competition, Hays took first place — earning the title Mr. Teen Colorado — at the NPC Rocky Mountain Championship, a qualifier for the national tournament to be held early next year.
Said Legacy coach Mike Thompson, whose team will head to the Windsor duals this weekend: "Drian's goal is to beat all of (former Legacy wrestler) Ryan (Deakin's) records. And other than the win record, he has a chance at the pin record."
The goals are simple: Hays won't let a disappointing third-period loss to eventual champion Tate Samuelson of Castle View at state happen again.
"I knew if I would have made it past there, that I probably would have won," Hays said. "This year the goal is to go all the way."
It was a huge momentum boosting night for the young Lightning, to score a victory over the highly touted Coyotes. It came down to the last match, and sophomore Grady Funk.
Knowing he needed to either win via technical fall or by pin to secure the victory, he got fellow sophomore Ty Brache on his back early in the third period and scored the pinfall at 4:33.
"That is a great way to start the season," said Thompson, who like Monarch will be at the Reno Tournament of Champions later this month. "The kids have been working hard and I know we have a young team, but we have three seniors on the squad that are really good leaders and the younger kids are really following suit."
The Lightning got pins from Keegan Hoffman (120 pounds), Joey Joiner (132), Hays, Brandon Wills (195) and Aaron Baugh (285).
The match of the night was the opener at 170 pounds, that featured a late escape from Aidan Funk with 11 seconds left to beat the Coyotes' Nate Pritchard 13-12.
Monarch freshmen Vince Cornella (106) and Ryan Kuykendall were both impressive in their varsity debuts, winning in 51 seconds and 1:32 respectively.
The Coyotes also got victories from Alex Scott (126), Cole Polluconi (138), Xander Rens (145) and Parker McQuade (152).
"We missed a lot of things that we have been working on, but it is the first match of the season and what I told my guys was we are not going to lose our mind," Monarch coach Ezra Paddock said. "None of them like losing and I don't like losing duals, but Legacy is a top 10 team too.
"We missed some stuff tonight and a couple of our kids that we thought were in shape and ready to go, weren't. A couple of state qualifiers got pinned."
LEGACY 39, MONARCH 37
106 — Vince Cornella, Monarch pinned Xander Solusod, :51; 113 — Ryan Kuykendall, Monarch pinned Jarrett Curran, 1:32; 120 — Keegan Hoffman, Legacy pinned Zach Hacker, 3:43; 126 — Alex Scott, Monarch pinned Kaeden Rusmussen, 2:52; 132 — Joey Joiner, Legacy pinned Aidan Quinn, 5:13; 138 — Cole Polluconi, Monarch pinned Kevin Luker, 2:48; 145 — Xander Rens, Monarch major dec. Brandon Hansen, 15-4; 152 — Parker McQuade, Monarch def. Dakota Key, 14-8; 160 — Grady Funk, Legacy pinned Ty Brache, 4:33; 170 — Aidan Funk, Legacy dec. Nate Pritchard, 13-12; 182 — Drian Hays, Legacy pinned Trent Brenner, 1:17; 195 — Brandon Wills, Legacy pinned Justin Powers, :35; 220 — Will Ponder, Monarch won by forfeit. 285 — Aaron Baugh, Legacy pinned Calvin Williams, :49.