• Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Holy Family's Kolsen Welham attempts to put Steamboat Springs' Hayden Johnson on his back during the Class 3A 160-pound state title match Saturday at the Pepsi Center.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Kolsen Welham of Holy Family jumps in the arms of his coach, Nestor Pino, after winning the Class 3A 160-pound state championship Saturday night at the Pepsi Center. Assistant coach David Pino is on the left. Welham is only the second state champion in school history. Go to for more photos.



DENVER — Holy Family senior Kolsen Welham began his Saturday warming up his cousin, Tigers freshman Hunter Branson, for Hunter’s consolation rounds at the Class 3A state wrestling tournament.

A few hours later, Welham was running through his own warmups prior to his 160-pound title bout when he stopped and took a moment to appreciate the accomplishment of a future teammate, Pueblo County’s Hunter Willits, who had just become the 20th four-time state champion on the Class 4A mat.

Welham and Willits — whose twin brother Grant also won a state title Saturday night at the Pepsi Center — will pursue wrestling at Oregon State.

Talk about motivation? Welham had all he needed when he positioned himself against Steamboat Springs’ Hayden Johnson. The energized and top seeded Welham worked quickly to get ahead, and after a 13-3 major decision, became just the second wrestler in school history to take home the championship.

“It was huge to get that chance to see (Willits) and honestly I got goose bumps and I was cheering for him as a future teammate, getting four,” Welham said. “It gave me so much motivation to go and get my own.

“I tried to wrestle as smart and as clean as I could, and stick to my shots and what I’m best at. Do not change anything, don’t do anything to put me in bad position and to get the first takedown. I feel like when I get a first takedown that I am going to win. Just tried to stay confident and cool-headed.”

Welham was never threatened, getting a 7-1 lead in the first period with a take down and then a hefty dose of near-fall points against Johnson, a junior who Welham had not previously wrestled.

He seemed content with riding out the full six minutes, realizing a goal that he had since finishing second last year and one that his father Blaze had when he was a star for Skyview back in the 1990s.

Blaze was a favorite for a title as a senior before getting injured. For Kolsen, Saturday was about taking that final step.

“My dad could have and should have been a state champion and he has pushed me every day to take what he learned from my grandparents and what not,” Welham said. “My mom has continued to push me and they urged me to go to every practice even when I didn’t want to.

“He made me a better wrestler and a better person.”

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