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Wrestling: Close-knit Monarch takes fourth led by Cole Carlucci’s gold

Coyotes rallied as team after Marshall Fire tragedy in December

DENVER, CO, Feb. 19, 2022: Cole ...
Cole Carlucci, of Monarch, beats Westin Hoffschneider, of Ponderosa, during the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Ball Arena in Denver on February 19, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
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DENVER — From the rubble left by the Marshall Fire into the bright lights of Ball Arena, the fight and perseverance needed in reaching wrestling’s pinnacle stage had perhaps never been greater for the Monarch High School program.

“When tragedy happens, you have an opportunity to make greatness out of it,” Monarch coach Ezra Paddock said inside the arena’s tunnels Saturday night on state wrestling’s final day. “Special things can happen with groups of people when they unite together and share a common goal.”

That’s how it played out for the Coyotes. Cole Carlucci raised his hand victoriously after winning the 5A 182-pound championship match and was mobbed quickly thereafter by his teammates, including Emilio Trujillo-Deen and Dillon Roman, who’d bowed out in the finals a bit earlier in the night.

Carlucci, who wrestled with a large brace on his knee after tearing his ACL during the football season, beat Ponderosa’s Westin Hoffschneider by a 4-1 decision. He then had enough strength to leap into his father Brian’s arms.

“I’ve been thinking and dreaming about this moment since I was a little kid,” Carlucci said. “Hearing my dad tell stories about his state titles, it’s just unreal. It’s amazing.”

The beginning of the night was tough on the Coyotes with narrow finals losses from Trujillo-Deen at 132s and Roman at 138s.

DENVER, CO, February 19, 2022: Emilio Trujillo-Deen , of Monarch, loses to Elijah Olguin, of Pomona, during the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Ball Arena in Denver on February 19, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

After his loss to Pomona’s Elijah Olguin, Trujillo-Deen stood outside the arena’s exit, hands on his knees, and chatted with coach Paddock about what he should have done better.

He shook his head in frustration. Paddock embraced him.

“I’m close with all my coaches and this is something we go through together,” Trujillo-Deen said. “I’m with them two hours a day, five days a week, sometimes more. The wrestling room being an escape for all of us brings us even closer together.”

He and Roman returned to celebrate with Carlucci an hour later.

“That was awesome,” said Carlucci as he began to get emotional. “That’s just the selflessness of the team. They’ve worked harder than anyone, but even when their dreams were taken away, they come to congratulate me, which is really special. It means a lot to me.”

Maybe it’s not surprising where the team has come out of. As the Louisville/Lafayette/Superior community worked to rebuild in the days and weeks after the devastating fire from Dec. 30 of last year, the Coyotes did what maybe seemed unthinkable in all the wreckage. With more than 1,000 homes gone, they moved forward.

In the hours and days after the blaze, Paddock said they rallied around the three members of the team who lost their family homes. And despite being displaced from their school’s gymnasium in the days following, they competed just nine days later.

Over the last few weeks, Monarch took second at the Front Range League meet and won their regional, sending an area-most 10 wrestlers to the state’s biggest wrestling attraction.

Six finished on the podium, with Jimmy Grace (285s) adding a fourth-place finish and Brayden Legge (120s) and Zach Ferrera (195s) each placing sixth. As a team, Monarch finished fourth as its 109.5 points were the most in school history, per the coach.

“Perseverance and unity, they came together and picked everything up a notch and went for it,” Paddock said. “They threw caution to the wind.”

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 19, 2022: Ramon ...

    Ramon Salazar, of Erie, beats Mikai Alirez, of Greeley Central, to win the 4A 126 pounds championship during the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Ball Arena in Denver on February 19, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 19, 2022: Ramon ...

    Ramon Salazar does a flip after winning the state championship. Ramon Salazar, of Erie, beats Mikai Alirez, of Greeley Central, to win the 4A 126 pounds championship during the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Ball Arena in Denver on February 19, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 19, 2022: Ramon ...

    Ramon Salazar does a flip after winning the state championship. Ramon Salazar, of Erie, beats Mikai Alirez, of Greeley Central, to win the 4A 126 pounds championship during the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Ball Arena in Denver on February 19, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Ramon Salazar hugs his coach after ...

    Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Ramon Salazar hugs his coach after the state win. Ramon Salazar, of Erie, beats Mikai Alirez, of Greeley Central, to win the 4A 126 pounds championship during the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Ball Arena in Denver on Feb. 19, 2022.

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 19, 2022: Ramon ...

    Ramon Salazar, of Erie, left, beats Mikai Alirez, of Greeley Central, to win the 4A 126 pounds championship during the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Ball Arena in Denver on February 19, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 19, 2022: Emilio ...

    Emilio Trujillo-Deen , of Monarch, loses to Elijah Olguin, of Pomona, during the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Ball Arena in Denver on February 19, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Ryan Vigil, of Broomfield, wins state ...

    Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Ryan Vigil, of Broomfield, wins state at 152 pounds during the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Ball Arena in Denver on Feb. 19, 2022.

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 19, 2022: Dillon ...

    Dillon Roman, of Monarch, loses to Jacob Bostelman, of Ponderosa, during the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Ball Arena in Denver on February 19, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 19, 2022: Cole ...

    Cole Carlucci, of Monarch, beats Westin Hoffschneider, of Ponderosa, during the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Ball Arena in Denver on February 19, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 19, 2022: Cole ...

    Cole Carlucci, of Monarch, beats Westin Hoffschneider, of Ponderosa, during the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Ball Arena in Denver on February 19, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

  • Cole Carlucci, of Monarch, celebrates with ...

    Clifff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Cole Carlucci, of Monarch, celebrates with his family after winning state during the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Ball Arena in Denver on Feb. 19, 2022.

  • Jenna Joseph, of Mead, wins state ...

    Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer

    Jenna Joseph, of Mead, wins state at 161 pounds during the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Ball Arena in Denver on Feb. 19, 2022.

  • DENVER, CO, Feb. 19, 2022: Jenna ...

    Jenna Joseph, of Mead, beats Navea Garcia, of Platte Valley during the finals of the Colorado State Wrestling Championships in Ball Arena in Denver on February 19, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

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