BROOMFIELD — Pat DeCamillis will never admit it, but the sly smile on his face lets you know that he landed at Broomfield for a reason.
That reason … Phil Downing.
The Eagles senior is on the brink of joining one of Colorado’s most elite clubs as a four-time state champion, and if he wants to be the 17th member, he will have the right man on his side.
No, DeCamillis has never coached a four-time state champion, but he was in the corner for one of the greatest upsets in Colorado high school wrestling history. DeCamillis was an assistant at Pomona when Tom Clum nearly made history as an undefeated four-time champion, only to lose in the final 10 seconds of his championship match against Wasson’s Brett Roller.
“That was the most gut-wrenching, horrible experiences that I have ever been through in my life,” DeCamillis said. “And I think I have learned a little bit from that and that situation. Hopefully I will be able to pass that along to Phil as we get closer to it.”
In his first three seasons, Downing — who looks every part the hardened wrestler — has amassed an impressive 97-7 record. He won his first state title in 2011 with an 8-4 decision over a previous state champion in Pueblo South’s Timothy Urenda at 119 pounds.
One year later as a sophomore, Downing scored a pin in the 138-pound final against Roosevelt’s Jace Lopez. Just last February, Downing went 36-2 en route to his third championship, a 10-1 major decision of Discovery Canyon’s Tyler Oberg at the Pepsi Center.
Downing has already committed to Notre Dame College in Ohio and that will be just one less thing for him to worry about in his quest for history. He can just go out and wrestle.
“I just want to be above and beyond everybody else this year,” Downing said. “When I wrestle kids in Colorado, I try and beat them by at least a major (decision) every time.”
That is a lofty goal, but one that is definitely doable. Some wrestlers are more technical, and while Downing is capable of that style, his speed and power makes him more of a brawler that enjoys toying with his opponents.
“You don’t win three titles without having some talent,” said DeCamillis, who was a three-time state champion at Arvada in the late 1980s. “And you don’t win that fourth without hard work.”
Downing has admitted that he has finally allowed the thought of winning four creep into a small corner of his mind.
“I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit actually and I just want to put myself in the best situation I can by working the hardest and putting in extra practices,” he said, “so there is nothing that holds me back from winning it.”
Downing, who has hit the weight room hard — and it shows — will likely bump up to 152 pounds and is thrilled about his coach’s pedigree. He knows that his new coach will be a huge asset to his senior season.
“It makes me work harder, because he puts on a much harder practice, because he knows what he’s doing,” Downing said. “He knows we need to do what we need to do to get me there.”
Downing is not the only returning champion in the Eagles well-decorated room. Senior Zach Stodden gives the Eagles another big name that they will need (the loss of D.J. Zissimos to injury will sting quite a bit) to fend off the likes of Pueblo South, Thompson Valley and Discovery Canyon in what could, and should, be one of the best team races in recent memory.
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