LAFAYETTE — Vince Cornella made his name on the junior wrestling circuit long before he ever strapped on a black and gold Monarch singlet.
On Saturday evening in the championship finals at Centaurus' Top of the Rockies — arguably the states toughest tournament — the Coyotes freshman confirmed what a lot of people already knew by rolling to a 106 pound title over Nebraska's top-ranked Paul Garcia out of Scottsbluff 19-5.
"That was tough and he was good on his feet, so I just knew I needed to get to my counters," said Cornella, who was more than familiar with his Nebraska foe. "I've definitely seen him around, so it was just a matter of wrestling my stuff and not his match."
After a relatively uneventful first period that ended 2-1 for Cornella, the Coyotes freshman scored two more big take downs — doing so when he was in compromising positions — to jump out to a 6-3 lead going to the final two minutes.
It was there where Cornella, who won the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler award for the lower weights, took it to another level. He added four more take downs as well as four near-fall points to turn the match into a lopsided affair.
"It's all about reactions and putting yourself in those scenarios in practice ... working on almost ever scenario possible." said Cornella, who is currently ranked No. 2 in Class 5A by Tim Yount's On the Mat. "This means a lot, especially for my confidence (going forward) and makes me want to work even harder for some of those bigger goals."
Cornella was one of three Monarch wrestlers to make their way to the finals, including senior Cole Polluconi at 138 pounds and Parker McQuade at 152.
Polluconi drew No. 1 ranked Colton Yapoujian of Pomona and pushed the Panthers junior to the brink, losing 2-1 in an ultimate tiebreaker when Yapoujian managed to escape with four second left.
"We have a lot of work to do still obviously, but we are right there and I just need to put that little bit extra in and I'll be on top of the podium at state in February," said Polluconi, who knows the countless number of tournament he and his teammates have wrestled all over the country will pay off next month.
"I've hung in there with some of the best guys in the country, it just proves to me I'm the best too and I can hang with anyone."
McQuade had to pull out of his 152 pound final with Grand Junction's Josiah Rider after a minor injury in the semifinals forced him to play it safe.
Broomfield, which finished seventh in the team chase, placed two in the finals. Sophomore Darren Green was beaten 16-11 by Pomona state champion Theorius Robison at 132 pounds and 220 pound senior Mason Watt was awarded a victory by forfeit over Pueblo east's Dante Garcia.
"I really wanted to wrestle, but pinning my way to the finals was a good feeling," said Watt, who currently sits at 98 career pins. "I don't look at anyone less than someone else and I'm always going out there to wrestle my hardest no matter what."
Broomfield's Drew Worthley finished fourth at 182 pounds and Presley Madril fifth at 113.
The last BoCo wrestler to make the finals was Legacy's Drian Hays at 182 pounds. The Legacy senior, ranked No. 2 in Class 5A, had a rematch of his 4-0 third-place state match with Grand Junction's Seth Latham, but the Tigers senior turned the tables ... in a big way.
Latham, ranked No. 3, won by technical fall 17-1 in just 4 minutes of wrestling.
TOP OF THE ROCKIES
Team scores — Pueblo County 202.5, Pueblo East 166, Grand Junction 160.5, Poudre 144.5, Ponderosa 121, Pomona 120.5, Broomfield 117, Legacy 104, Grandview 101.5, Monarch 97, Rio Rancho (N.M.) 92.5, Adams City 92, Brighton 89.5, Cheyenne East (Wyo.) 84, Alamosa 76.5, Brush 68.5, Thompson Valley 60, Edmond Memorial (Okla.) 58, Rocky Ford 57.5, Fort Morgan 55, Scottsbluff (Neb.) 55, Grand Island (Neb.) 53, Central (G.J.) 52, Pueblo South 47, Rocky Mountain 46.5, Kelly Walsh (Casper, Wyo.) 43, Lakewood 41, Arvada West 34, Fort Lupton 33, Abraham Lincoln 31, Omaha North (Neb.) 21, Mountain Vista 15, Mead 14, Centaurus 11, Cherry Creek 10, Cheyenne Central (Wyo.) 8.
106 — Vince Cornella, Monarch major dec. Paul Garcia, Scottsbluff (Neb.), 19-5.
113 — Brendon Garcia, Pueblo County dec. Andres Lucero, Pueblo East, 6-4.
120 — Jace Trujillo, Pueblo East dec. Josiah Nava, Pueblo County, 13-10.
126 — Nathan Bonham, Pueblo County pinned Nicholas Gonzales, Adams City, 3:37.
132 — Theorius Robison, Pomona dec. Darren Green, Broomfield, 16-11.
138 — Colton Yapoujian, Pomona dec. Cole Polluconi, Monarch, 2-1 (UTB).
145 — Jacob Greenwood, Poudre dec. Dylan Martinez, Grand Junction, 7-1.
152 — Josiah Rider, Grand Junction won by forfeit over Parker McQuade, Monarch.
160 — Gabe Dinette, Lakewood dec. Orion Gutierrez, Rio Rancho (N.M.), 4-2.
170 — Parker Benekas, Ponderosa dec. Christian Rowell, Adams City, 4-2.
182 — Seth Latham, Grand Junction tech. fall Drian Hays, Legacy, 17-1 (4:00).
195 — Jayden Woodruff, Ponderosa pinned Edward Chavez, Rio Rancho (N.M.) 1:01.
220 — Mason Watt, Broomfield won by forfeit over Dante Garcia, Pueblo County.
285 — Cohlton Schultz, Ponderosa pinned Greg Garcia, Rocky Ford, 1:44.
LOCAL THIRD-PLACE MATCHES
182 — Matt Dunkelman, Thompson Valley pinned Drew Worthley, Broomfield, :37.
LOCAL FIFTH-PLACE MATCHES
113 — Presley Madril, Broomfield dec. Dylan Kruse, Arvada West, 10-3.
145 — Dylan Ranieri, Grandview pinned Dakota Key, Legacy, 2:15.
170 — Aidan Funk, Legacy dec. Tarron Adams, Brighton, 6-3.