LAKEWOOD — It was 22 years — 2001 to 2023 — between boys wrestling league titles for Alameda International.

On Friday night in the Pirates’ home gym, Alameda captured its second straight Class 4A Jeffco League wrestling team title to prove last year wasn’t a fluke. Alameda racked up 148 team points and captured four individual league titles to go back-to-back.

“I can’t explain how important it is,” Alameda wrestling coach Frank Trujillo said after taking numerous photos with Pirate wrestlers with the 2024 league championship plaque in hand. “It is so important not only for me, but for these kids. These kids put their heart into it. They work hard all season and are having results finally. We hadn’t had results in 22 years until last year. To come back and do it again is very special.”

It wasn’t easy to repeat. Heading into the place matches, Alameda held just a 10-point lead over Bear Creek. The Pirates and Bears both had six wrestlers in championship bouts.

“Our team was like, ‘Pin Bear Creek. Pin Bear Creek.’ Everyone get pins so we could rack up those team points,” Alameda junior and 150-pounder Sean Johnson said. “We were hungry for that second title. We wanted to go back and get it.”

Photo by Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Public Schools

Alameda sophomore Caleb Ballejos set the tone early with a late third-period pin of Wheat Ridge junior Jacob Tims in the 113-pound championship match. The sophomore, who became a two-time individual league champion after winning at 106 pounds a year ago, didn’t feel the pressure leading off for the Pirates in the title bouts.

“To be honest, I didn’t even know about the (team) points,” Ballejos said was asked if he was nervous with Alameda holding just a 10-point lead over Bear Creek heading into the place matches. “When I go out there I just focus on what I got to do.”

Alameda sophomore Mukhtar Hashimi kept it rolling with a quick first-period pin over Conifer sophomore Justin Gerard in the 126-pound title match. Junior Muswer Ali Shokori continued the pinning party going with a second-period pin of Conifer senior Tade Reddin to extend the Pirates’ lead over the Bears.

Johnson completed Alameda’s fourth straight pin in the championship matches with a come-from-behind win over Bear Creek sophomore Brian Royal at 150 pounds.

“When I saw Caleb win it set a fire under me,” Johnson said. “Everyone on our team knew it was go-time.”

Royal nearly pinned Johnson in the first period, but time expired before Royal go the pin to keep the match going. Johnson caught Royal midway through the second period to get a pin and pretty much ice the team title for the Pirates.

“I wanted to make a statement,” said Johnson, who was runner-up at league at 144 pounds a year ago. “It starts be winning league. Then regionals and next state. I want my name known to everyone.”

Alameda eventually had nine wrestlers place in the top-3 in their weight class. The Pirates defeated the Bears by 30 points (144-114) a year ago. It was a little close at 148-128 this season.

“It takes a lot. We all work hard,” Ballejos said of the back-to-back league titles. “We deserve this. We work hard in the wrestling room every day.”

Conifer and Littleton tied for second most individual league champions with three each. Bear Creek and Standley Lake both had a pair of individual champions.

All the 4A Jeffco teams now turn their attention to regionals coming up next weekend. Alameda does drop down to 3A for the postseason, but the Pirates head to a tough regional at Mullen High School. Mullen is ranked No. 2 in 3A in the latest On the Mat rankings. While No. 4 Jefferson and No. 7 Severance will also be at the same regional.

“As we are building the program we have goals,” Trujillo said. “Last year was win league and get some regional placers to go to state. This year we want to try to win regionals. It will be tough, but I think we can do really well.”