Wrestling: Silver Creek and Centaurus pointed in the right direction

  • Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Centaurus High School's Mathew Copanas takes down Sivler Creek's Kevin Hellmen during a 145-pound wrestling match on Thursday in Lafayette. Go to for more photos.

  • Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Silver Creek High School's Kevin Hellmen ties up with Mathew Copanas during a 145-pound wrestling match against Silver Creek on Thursday in Lafayette. Go to for more photos.

  • Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    Centaurus High School's Angel Mata works to pin Silver Creek's Ricardo Soto during a 182-pound wrestling match on Thursday in Lafayette. Go to for more photos.



LAFAYETTE — The banners that hang all around the Centaurus gym tell a story of a proud history and tradition in wrestling.

For a lengthy stretch of the 1990’s, the Warriors were one of the best programs in the state and it’s a tradition that is a badge of honor for coach Cesar Valenzuela — an alum of the program — and his team which continues to grind it out against the big schools in Class 5A year after year.

The numbers may not be what they once were in the glory years, but Centaurus always has that one guy in the room that brings the level of the whole team up. This year it is Angel Mata.

On Thursday night, the 182-pound senior made quick work of Silver Creek’s Ricardo Soto, pinning him in 54 seconds. It wasn’t enough for the Warriors to win the dual — reduced to six matches in the 14 weight classes — that went to the Raptors 48-29.

“He’s a great role model and the team is going to follow and hopefully these kids start living 365,” Valenzuela said of Mata. “The kid is nonstop 24/7, he’s a workhorse and I don’t think anybody can outwork him in any room across the state.”

Mata is keeping his 2017-18 goals close to the vest, but quality showing at the annual Top of the Rockies could be a springboard to even bigger things in February.

“I’ve just got to keep bringing the team up and win as a team,” Mata said. Once it’s time to work, we get to work … and from the young guys to the veterans, we know what it takes.”

The teams split the six match and other winners for Centaurus included 113 pounder Preston Swan, who scored a first period pin of Colin Stringer at 1:55. Kade Gendreau won his 132-pound match via technical fall over Dominik Wheeler 17-0.

The Raptors, who will head to the Palmer Ridge Tournament on Saturday, are in the building process as well; but the pieces are in place for coach John Finkbiner’s team to wreak some havoc when the calendar turns.

Their lone returning state qualifier, heavyweight Jacob Williams, did not wrestle on Thursday night; but it was easy to see some good things in the three Raptors victories.

Keldan Stutzman (132 pounds), Kevin Hellmen (145) and Shawn Smith (170) all won their matches by first round pin.

“We’ve got a lot of young kids and a lot of bad habits and we are trying to break those bad habits right now,” Finkbiner said. “A lot of these kids stepped up tonight and didn’t know they would be wrestling varsity … and we matched up real well, because (Centaurus) has some tough kids.

“We have a good chance to get three or four, maybe even five or six (to state), depending on how the weights shake out; but it really depends on these guys’ attitude and what we can do throughout the season and how they progress.”

Jon Yunt: or


At Centaurus

106 — Thor Christianson, Centaurus won by forfeit; 113 — Preston Swan, Centaurus pinned Colin Stringer, 1:55; 120 — Brandon Lamer, Silver Creek won by forfeit; 126 — uncontested; 132 — Keldan Stutzman, Silver Creek pinned Camacho Emanuel, :40; 138 — Kade Gendreau, Centaurus tech fall Dominik Wheeler, :51; 145 — Kevin Hellmen, Silver Creek pinned Mathew Copanas, :51; 152 — Hunter Brooks, Silver Creek won by forfeit; 160 — Noah Solano, Silver Creek won by forfeit; 170 — Shawn Smith, Silver Creek pinned Collin Roberts, 1:11; 182 — Angel Mata, Centaurus pinned Ricardo Soto, :54; 195 — Alejandro Castaneda, Centaurus won by forfeit; 220 — Max Ruiz, Silver Creek won by forfeit. 285 — Connor Monroe, Silver Creek, won by forfeit.