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Wrestling: Erie’s Rudy Lopez, Monarch’s Vince Cornella seize their opportunities at state

Coyotes’ junior retains shot a four career titles

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Lyons High School's Oran Huff reacts after defeating Cedaredge High School's Trey Geyer during the 2A 126-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Broomfield High School's Darren Green wrestles Pueblo East High School's Aaden Valdez during the 4A 145-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Green won the match.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Erie High School's Rudy Lopez celebrates after defeating Pueblo Centennial High School's Dominic Castro during the 4A 113-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - High School's wrestles High School's during the 4A -pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Monarch High School's Vince Cornella has his hand raised after defeating Pomona High School's Jakob Romero during a 5A 126-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Lyons High School's Oran Huff wrestles Cedaredge High School's Trey Geyer during the 2A 126-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Huff won the match.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Lyons High School's Karson Bean wrestles Sedgwick County/ Fleming High School's Fabian Lopez during the 2A 195-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Bean lost the match.

  • DENVER, CO - Monarch High School's Nathan Fitzpatrick wrestles Pomona High School's Gage Bernall during the 5A 160-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Fitzpatrick lost the match.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Broomfield High School fans cheer as Darren Green defeats Pueblo East High School's Aaden Valdez during the 4A 145-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Legacy High School's Joey Joiner wrestles Regis Jesuit High School's Antonio Segura during the 5A 145-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Joiner lost the match.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Broomfield High School's Bryant Walker works a takedown on Mesa Ridge High School's Jared Volcic during the 4A 220-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Walker lost the match.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Broomfield High School's Bryant Walker shows his emotions after losing to Mesa Ridge High School's Jared Volcic during the 4A 220-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Monarch High School's Nathan Fitzpatrick wrestles Pomona High School's Gage Bernall during the 5A 160-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Fitzpatrick lost the match.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Lyons High School's David Gardner loses to John Mall High School's Wesley VanMatre during the 2A 145-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Broomfield High School's Bryant Walker tries to pin Mesa Ridge High School's Jared Volcic during the 4A 220-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Broomfield High School's Darren Green has his hand raised in victory after defeating Pueblo East High School's Aaden Valdez during the 4A 145-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Green won the match.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Thompson Valley High School's Chase Engelhardt wrestles Windsor High School's Cody Eaton during the 4A 160-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Broomfield High School's Darren Green wrestles Pueblo East High School's Aaden Valdez during the 4A 145-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Green won the match.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Thompson Valley High School's Chase Engelhardt loses to Windsor High School's Cody Eaton during the 4A 160-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Legacy High School's Joey Joiner wrestles Regis Jesuit High School's Antonio Segura during the 5A 145-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Joiner lost the match.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Broomfield High School's Darren Green wrestles Pueblo East High School's Aaden Valdez during the 4A 145-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Green won the match.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Legacy High School's Joey Joiner wrestles Regis Jesuit High School's Antonio Segura during the 5A 145-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Joiner lost the match.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Lyons High School's Oran Huff wrestles Cedaredge High School's Trey Geyer during the 2A 126-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Huff won the match.

  • Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Lyons High School's Oran Huff jumps into his coaches arms after defeating Cedaredge High School's Trey Geyer during the 2A 126-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Monarch High School's Vince Cornella wrestles Pomona High School's Jakob Romero during a 5A 126-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Broomfield High School's Darren Green wrestles Pueblo East High School's Aaden Valdez during the 4A 145-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Green won the match.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Broomfield High School's Darren Green wrestles Pueblo East High School's Aaden Valdez during the 4A 145-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Green won the match.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Erie High School's Rudy Lopez wrestles Pueblo Centennial High School's Dominic Castro during the 4A 113-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Lopez won the match.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Erie High School's Rudy Lopez has his hand raised after defeating Pueblo Centennial High School's Dominic Castro during the 4A 113-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

  • Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer

    DENVER, CO - Erie High School's Rudy Lopez wrestles Pueblo Centennial High School's Dominic Castro during the 4A 113-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Lopez won the match. (Photo by Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)

  • Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com

    Holy Family's Hunter Branson, left, wrestles Brendan Carroll of The Classical Academy at the state wrestling championships on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020 in Denver.

  • Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com

    Broomfield senior Tyler Carpenter has his hand raised after winning the Class 4A fifth-place match at 285 pounds at the state wrestling championships on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020 in Denver.

  • Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com

    Joey Airola of Boulder looks for an opening to score in his Class 5A fifth-place match at 113 pounds at the state wrestling championships on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020.

  • Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com

    Grady Funk of Legacy turns Sage Harrison of Poudre to score back points in their consolation semifinal match at 182 pounds in the state wrestling championships on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020.

  • Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com

    Skyline's Andrew Sandoval, top, wrestles Cañon City's Ezavian Ortega in their consolation semifinal match at the 2020 state wrestling championships on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020 in Denver.

  • Brandon Boles/BoCoPreps.com

    Brayden Engelking of Longmont (top) completes a takedown versus Pueblo West's Micah Duran in the 152-pound bracket at the 2020 state wrestling championships on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020.

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DENVER — Before the finals of the Colorado high school wrestling championships began, wrestlers and fans in attendance enjoy a video tribute of the wrestlers from previous years that won four state titles in their high school career.

One man hoping to be added to that video is Monarch’s Vince Cornella. With two titles under his belt, the junior took the next step on Saturday, winning his third state title with a technical fall 15-0 over Pomona’s Jakob Romero. The victory capped a dominant tournament for Cornella, who won all four of his matches by technical fall.

“It always feels good to win at this tournament in front of your family and friends,” Cornella said. “It’s a great Colorado crowd and a great atmosphere here.”

Cornella’s recipe for success was scoring the early takedown and managing the match from top position. An area of focus for him this season, he was able to find ways to score back points and prevent any of his opponents from escaping unless he let them up freely.

Jeremy Papasso/ Staff Photographer
DENVER, CO – Monarch High School’s Vince Cornella has his hand raised after defeating Pomona High School’s Jakob Romero during a 5A 126-pound championship match during the last day of the CHSAA State Wrestling Championships on Thursday at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Photo by Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer)

“Being able to turn guys is what separates guys,” Cornella said. “A big thing for me this year was finding a ride that I liked and that I was comfortable with. The key was keeping that forward pressure and waiting for him to open up just enough so I could sink some holds.”

Before Cornella captured his title, Rudy Lopez of Erie competed for his first championship in the Class 4A 113-pound bracket. Needing to wrestle eight minutes in the final match, he eventually won in an ultimate tiebreaker 3-2 to capture the title.

“This is the best feeling ever,” Lopez said. “I’ve been wanting this moment ever since I was eight years old. For it to finally be a reality, it’s a blessing and I just thank God.”

Down 2-0 going into the second period, Lopez shot for the double leg and scored a takedown just seconds into the period. The score remained tied heading into overtime and neither was able to score a takedown in the one-minute period or escape from bottom in the 30-second periods. Lopez finally broke free from bottom as he rolled forward and got to his feet to score the final point.

“I felt the opening,” Lopez said. “I was going forward and I felt like I should roll, so I did, and it got to a scramble and I just got out.”

Saturday night was the biggest win of the high school season for both wrestlers, but getting there for the two required trips to participate in a number of marquee wrestling tournaments in and out of Colorado to get big-match experience that prepared them to shine at Pepsi Center.

Cornella has taken part in some of the biggest high school wrestling tournaments in and out of Colorado. In December, he traveled to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, to participate in the Walsh Ironman, where he finished in seventh place. A week later, it was off to Las Vegas where he won the title at the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.

His final trip out-of-state during the season was to compete in the Doc Buchanan Invitational in Clovis, Calif.

“It helps a tremendous amount being able to travel and see some other guys in the country,” Cornella said. “It exposes your weaknesses and makes you work on them. Going through that grind, at those tough tournaments, will only better prepare me for my accomplishments.”

Lopez was also a competitor at the Doc Buchanan Invitational and also wrestled with a club team at the USAW Preseason Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa before the start of the high school season.

The travel to wrestle in tough matches ultimately paid off, setting Cornella up at a shot at history and for Lopez to get another title next season.

Late matches see tough losses

Joey Joiner of Legacy and Antonio Segura of Regis Jesuit had a rematch with each other for the 145-pound title in Class 5A. Segura was able to repeat history, winning a second time over Joiner with a 10-7 decision.

Joiner was able to get some points and stay close, but a fast state that put Segura up 4-1 in the first period was too much to overcome. To try and get the points back, Joiner started from top position in the third period and managed to stay on top for most of the frame, but Segura was able to avoid giving up back points in that span and held on down the stretch to win.

Making his first appearance in the state finals was Nathan Fitzpatrick of Monarch at 160 pounds. He landed the first takedown and led Pomona’s Gage Bernall after the first period. Bernall wasted no time getting a reversal from bottom to start the second period and then managed to keep Fitzpatrick down the rest of the period. Tied 2-2, Fitzpatrick chose to start from bottom in the third to try and score with an escape, but Bernall was able to lock up his body and roll him on his back for three back points that led to his 5-2 decision win.

One of the more exciting championship matches was at 220 in Class 4A with Broomfield’s Bryant Walker taking on Jared Volcic of Mesa Ridge. Walker fell behind 4-0 in the first period but rallied back with a pair of escapes and a takedown in the second. He nearly got the fall with the takedown but had to settle for the 7-4 advantage. Walker led 7-6 in the final minute and looked to be on his way to the title until Volcic flipped Walker to the mat and took his back with one tick on the clock to steal the match and win 8-7.

Teams that competed in the finals also had good team scores in the tournament, led by Broomfield with 116 points to sit in third place in Class 4A. Lyons and Monarch both finished in seventh place in their classifications with Lyons scoring 78.5 points and Monarch getting 73 points. Longmont was the final team to sit in the top 10 with 58 team points to finish 10th.