DENVER — There wasn’t a huge contingent of Englewood High School wrestling fans cheering on 215-pounder Jayce Prante on Friday during the 2024 CHSAA state wrestling championships at Ball Arena. The Pirates only qualified two wrestlers in Class 3A at a meet where half the population of small towns with dominant programs make their annual pilgrimage. While there’s plenty of support for Prante and his teammate Andrew Sheppard as the Pirates’ only two qualifiers, huge swathes of the crowd aren’t screaming during his matches.

But that doesn’t make the support any less meaningful, especially to Prante.

Wrestling in what’s likely his final few matches before he switches to football full-time in college, Prante knew exactly what he was battling for — his family, his passion and the small Denver suburb that supported him along the way.

“I wouldn’t want to wear nothing else across my chest,” Prante said. “I just wanted to make a big name for us, whether it’s football, wrestling, whatever it is. Englewood is where it’s at. I want to go big for myself, my community and my coaches.”

(Dan Mohrmann/

Cheered on by a supportive group of family and a handful of wrestlers from Englewood and Mullen, the senior operated with surgeon-like precision in his 4-1 victory over Brush’s Cole Curtis. It was just Curtis’ sixth loss of the season, but Prante seemed in control from start to finish, only allowing a point on an escape as the clock ran out.

“As I’ve gone through the tournament, the pressure just keeps going up and up and up,” Prante said. “That match, I just tried to stay calm and in control because I’ve never been in a spot like that. Just looking at how far I’ve come and where I want to go.”

Earlier in the day, his quarterfinal matchup pitted him against a ranked opponent in Delta’s Ripp Lockhart. After a scoreless first period, Prante fell behind 2-0 late in the second period. The senior was able to even up the score with a late takedown, then a reversal gave him the lead. By the third period, Lockhart was gassed and Prante had won 6-2.

After both victories on Friday, the Englewood grappler immediately pointed to the stands and up to his family.

“They’ve given me huge support,” Prante said. “It’s incredible how small of a community can be so large for me. (Coach Jesse Lucero) is my cousin and all through the youth program, he’s led me and my family has backed me up.”

Now, Prante will face a relative unknown in the championship match, facing 12-0 Samuel Stockton of Resurrection Christian. The sophomore returned from injury right before regionals and won his opening match by pin, his quarterfinal by major decision, then upset top-seeded Abram Moore from Holy Family in the semifinal with a 4-2 decision.

While Prante will likely compete in football at the collegiate level, signing with Colorado Mesa University as a defensive end earlier this month, Lucero credited his cousin and pupil’s work ethic and scrappiness, especially on one of the biggest stages in Colorado high school sports.

“It’s big for Jayce and it’s big for Englewood,” the coach said. “He’s been working so hard and he’s been wrestling for the Englewood program his whole life. He’s stuck loyal with us. The last two years, he lost in blood rounds. He’s a tough kid who is going to go down fighting. This year, he proved that we earn what we get down here — it’s not given.

“We set levels with him. I know and he knows that he’s one of the best in the state. He just needs to prove it. One more match.”

(Dan Mohrmann/