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State wrestling: Broomfield’s Phil Downing set to make run at history

Broomfield senior Phil Downing is focused on his run at becoming the 17th member of Colorado's four-time state champion club at the state wrestling finals this weekend.
Jeremy Papasso / Daily Camera
Broomfield senior Phil Downing is focused on his run at becoming the 17th member of Colorado’s four-time state champion club at the state wrestling finals this weekend.


BROOMFIELD — The Phil Downing the rest of the state knows is not the Phil Downing who roams the halls of 1 Eagle Way on a daily basis, or lives at the end of your street, or even takes time out of his training schedule to visit other schools to help other wrestlers get better.

The Broomfield senior is the ultimate Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or for the kids who have no idea who that is … he is the ultimate Richard Sherman. A fierce competitor that often times gets so caught up in the emotion of his performance that he will let that bubble over to where he almost becomes a disliked figure.

“Phil is an intense competitor and that intensity takes a little time to dissipate when he is finished wrestling,” said first-year Broomfield coach and longtime Colorado wrestling figure Pat DeCamillis, who will take 11 Eagles wrestlers to the Pepsi Center for the three-day state extravaganza starting Thursday. “But with that said, there is not a lot of in-between with him. He is a real goofy kid and a nice kid and then he hits that switch and he is ready to go.”

Downing will have a chance to make history this weekend, trying to become the state’s 17th four-time state champion and the first since Ponderosa’s Jake Snider pulled it off from 2007-10. The key word for Downing this week — and in fact for this entire season — has been, and is clearly, “focus.”

That focus has been tested at various points throughout the season. Opponents have tried everything they can, from stalling and just flat-out not trying, in hopes of getting Downing off his game and maybe even spark that patented temper.

It hasn’t worked.

“My temper is the only thing that can stop me from winning my title. I’ve been working on it all year, on trying to keep it under control. And I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job of it,” said Downing, who will open his run at history against Woodland Park’s Jonathon Hinton in the 160-pound bracket. “When I get mad, instead of taking it out on someone, I work that much harder and try to be like I’m going to beat this kid that much worse, instead of trying to hurt him.”

Downing ran his record to 40-3 last weekend in the Class 4A Region 1 tournament, spending just over two minutes on the mat en route to the regional title.

“When it comes to wrestling, I’m really competitive and I can’t and don’t ever want to lose. The switch turns on when I go out on the mat and I take care of business,” he said. “When I am off the mat, I’m just a different guy … a friendly guy.”

DeCamillis gives credit to Downing’s all-around prowess on the mat: “I don’t see a weakness in Phil to tell you the truth. I don’t see anyone that can ride him. I don’t see him struggling on top. He will eventually wear them down and put them on their back. I don’t think he has had a problem with that this year. He is phenomenal on his feet, but I just don’t see a weakness in Phil.”

DeCamillis, a three-time state champion himself at Arvada, has been through this routine before as a coach of prepping kids for a shot at a fourth title. He was an assistant at Pomona and was in Tom Clum’s corner when he made his run at glory in 2001. In one of the most memorable matches in state history, Clum, who had not lost a match in his prep career, was stunned by Wasson’s Brett Roller in the final 10 seconds for his only loss.

Lesson learned for both wrestler and coach, and something DeCamillis will be better prepared for this week.

“Staying focused. And staying focused on what he needs to accomplish,” DeCamillis said. “We have been throwing different scenarios at him throughout the year just to make sure he is ready for anything that pops up and I think he is.

“I think too often we let other things creep in and kind of take away from what we need to do. What he has been shooting for is to win that fourth state title and up until that point on Saturday night when he gets his hand raised, you know, he is still a three-time state champ. History has not been made yet, but it will be on Saturday night. It’s not so much shielding, it’s a reminder that, ‘Hey buddy, we’ve got some business to take care of.'”

DeCamillis is not so much shielding Downing from the media, but he has made it clear that he is off limits until Saturday night.

That is something different, but something Downing really appreciates. If form holds, Downing’s biggest threats will come from Sand Creek senior Jeremy Jaquess (30-5) in the semifinals and Pueblo County’s Keenan Willits (39-2, with one of those losses against Downing via pin at the Northern Colorado Tournament).

“I’m stoked. I just can’t wait to get my first match over with on Thursday night and be in the Pepsi Center and then get to Saturday and take care of business in the finals,” Downing said. “Just stay focused and keep my composure when I’m wrestling out there and not lose it and not get to pissed off to where I maybe give up a penalty point for being too aggressive on the mat. It’s a matter of keeping my composure and wrestle out there and not anything else.”

Said DeCamillis: “I think he is ready to make history.”

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