DENVER — Already the owner of silver and bronze medals from Colorado state championships past, supremely competitive Longmont wrestler Drake Engelking still regrets how those two state tournaments ended.
It's not just that he didn't win. Every state qualifier wishes he could win state. It's that Engelking truly believes, and perhaps rightfully so, that he should have won at least one of them.
Now a junior, Engelking remains fixated on finishing out the state championship he has spent most of his young life chasing. That singular vision was unmistakably present throughout his 10-2 major decision over Air Academy's Brady Badwound in the Class 4A 160-pound state semifinals at Pepsi Center on Friday night.
On Saturday night, Engelking will get his long-awaited second chance at the gold.
"I'm just trying to pick up the W," Engelking said. "I'm really focused on just going out there and doing the best that I actually can this time instead of kind of choking like my freshman year. It's just about me going out there and being at my best."
Engelking placed second as a freshman and third as a sophomore last winter. So far in his junior campaign, one in which a right thumb injury held him to just 27 matches so far, he has won all three state tournament bouts by major decision and outscored his trio of opponents 36-9.
On Friday night, Engelking jumped ahead of Badwound with a first-round takedown and continued to dominate the mostly-standing match with three more takedowns. With the top podium spot on the line, Engelking will face Thompson Valley senior Hunter Williams in the finals on Saturday night.
"One of the number one things in wrestling is that if you get those two points in the beginning, then you're set for a while," Engelking said. "The goal going in was definitely just to get as many takedowns as I could. So far, the tournament has gone pretty well. But I've still got the big match."
In the 2A 182-pound bracket, senior defending state champion Keegan Bean continued his own dominant run. He pinned County Line junior Dawson Roesch in 3 minutes, 4 seconds to collect his third pinfall of the tournament. Bean, who has spent the ninth least time on the mat of any wrestler with three pins at state, will defend his title against Nucla's William Gabriel on Saturday.
"He was ready to go, he knew what he had to do and he was fired up," Lyons head coach Brandon Lohr said. "His eyes have been on the finals match so he was just going to run through anybody, really. He just hasn't stopped wrestling since state last year so it's going to take a lot to stop him."
Lyons freshman Oran Huff lost his semifinal match to Wray freshman Junior Arambula, who pinned Huff in 3:01.
Silver Creek senior heavyweight Jacob Williams lost a 4-3 decision to Mesa Ridge senior Michael True in the 4A semifinals. It was Williams' first loss in 41 matches this season.