DENVER — Let there be no doubt about what Julian and Joseph Prieto meant to the not just Holy Family High School, but its wrestling program as well.
The duo that has never missed a day of school, despite driving every single day from Fort Lupton to Broomfield, and they epitomized what it meant to work hard every time they put on a singlet.
“They basically are the program,” Holy Family coach Bob Wathen said. “For the last four years, four-time state placers, the hardest workers in the room every single day and the thing they said yesterday is that they were so proud of our wrestling team; and that means a lot, that they have a team concept and not just individual.”
On Saturday night at the Pepsi Center, Julian and Joseph Prieto strapped on the purple and gold one last time in the championship finals in Class 3A and both came up short in their bids for state titles.
“It’s been a hell of a ride,” said Joseph Prieto, who was a year removed from becoming the first Tigers wrestler to ever win a state title. “And I wouldn’t want to change it for anything.
“Sometimes it works out the way want it to and sometimes it doesn’t, but it has been a great four years and it has been fun to see this team get better.”
Joseph Prieto was facing a vary familiar foe in undefeated Berthoud junior Jimmy Fate. In three matches this season, Fate had won 19-7, 10-3 and last week at the regional tournament in Eaton 15-8.
The key for Joseph was to set up his shots well, knowing that Fate was quick on the counters. It worked for over a period, as the two spent much of the first two minutes, feeling each other out.
Fate drew first blood in the second, after getting one point for an escape, he added a two-point takedown before the heading to the third. Two more takedowns in the third ultimately gave him a 7-3 decision.
“He’s just strong and he’s able to counter me,” Joseph Prieto said. “I gave it my best shot and I wish it would have turned out differently, but it is what it is and I can’t change it now.”
Julian Prieto was looking to avenge last season’s loss in the state finals and brought a sterling 42-1 record into the final against Platte Valley’s Ryan Waite, whom he had beaten twice already this season.
Trailing 2-1 going to the second, Waite piled on in the second and nearly ended the match in the waning moments of the period. He scored a takedown and added two more points in the final 20 seconds to take a 7-1 lead to the third.
“Beating somebody for the third time is always really tough,” Wathen said. “Waite really wrestled a heck of a match and you just have to hand it to him, he took advantage all the way through the tournament.”
Julian Prieto made a go of it in the third period, scoring his first takedown of the match and tacking on three back points before eventually falling 8-6.
“He just blocked my shots and I couldn’t get them off like I did the first two times,” said Julian, who concluded his career with a fourth, a third and two second-place finishes. “That changed the whole game.
“I wouldn’t change anything about the last four years and it’s just an honor to be known as one of the best wrestlers to come through here.”
Holy Family senior heavyweight Willy Clements had one last shot to to claim a title for the Tigers. He was 1-2 against Brush’s Joe Carwin this season, including last week at regionals, when Carwin won with a stalling point.
The match appeared to be headed to overtime tied at 1-1, but Carwin who had come up empty on every single shot attempt in the match finally got one with 22 seconds left and scored a takedown that would earn him a championship by a 3-1 score.
“”He’s a great wrestler. He needed a takedown and he got it,” said Clements, who made the finals with back-to-back overtime victories. “I wanted to wrestle without any regrets and the only part of that match I regret is letting him get that takedown.”
Not too many of the state prognosticators would have guessed the Tigers would have been a top 10 team and they did that with ease with their four entrants. When all was said and done, Holy Family finished eighth with 81 points.
Kolsen Welham battled his way back after Friday night’s semifinal loss to take fifth place. He pinned Delta’s Daryan Urquhart in 2:08.
“Just seeing this team progress and grow throughout the years,” Julian Prieto said. “My sophomore year, we had a team that I wasn’t really proud to be on, but these last two years have been fun.”