DENVER — Emerging as a surprise winner in 2017, Lyons wrestler Keegan Bean's first state championship was accompanied by feelings of elation and overwhelming pride.

It was just last season, but so much has changed in the year since his breakthrough state tournament that it feels to the Lions senior like a long time ago. At the 2018 Colorado wrestling state championships on Saturday night, Bean defended his Class 2A 182-pound title with a 2-1 decision over Nucla's William Gabriel.

The favorite going in this time around, Bean's second state title came with much more relief than elation. But that just made it special in a different way.

Keegan Bean of Lyons has his armed raised in victory after defeating William Gabriel of Nucla to repeat as the Class 2A 182-pound state champion Friday
Keegan Bean of Lyons has his armed raised in victory after defeating William Gabriel of Nucla to repeat as the Class 2A 182-pound state champion Friday night at Pepsi Center. Go to BoCoPreps.com for more photos. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

"This was more relief because I had that target on my back and everybody obviously expected me to win it," Bean said. "That puts a lot of pressure on you. But I finished strong and it was a great season."

Bean went from not placing as a sophomore in 2016 to claiming state last winter as a junior, winning the sixth state championship in Lyons history and the first since 2002.

Living up to his role as the favorite this winter, Bean (36-2) pinned his first three state tournament opponents and spent the ninth-least time on the mat of any wrestler at Pepsi Center. Against Gabriel (34-9) in the finals, Bean finally scored a reversal in the second round after he was surprised by his opponent's aggression early on in the match. Gabriel scored on an escape in the third round but once Bean found his rhythm, he was able to ride out the remaining minute to complete the victory.


Advertisement

"I was the favorite but that makes it hard to get fired up sometimes," Bean said. "He was riled up and it wasn't my best match. But I did win the state title, so there you go."

Though the final match was a bit closer than he would have liked, Lyons head coach Brandon Lohr said the match was exactly what the fans wanted to see with a title on the line. Winning such a close match despite not being at his best, Lohr said, also showed how much Bean has matured as a wrestler in the past year.

"Last year, we definitely thought he was going to get on the podium," Lohr said. "We didn't know how far, though. He showed up and had a great tournament. Becoming a state champ, that really set a fire in him and he hasn't stopped wrestling since. He's wrestled in other states and pushed himself to the next level ever since so he would be ready for this."

Bean only lost two matches as a senior, both to Valley senior Josh Flanagan who finished runner-up for the 3A 182-pound title on Saturday night.

Brad Cochi: cochib@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BradCochi