DENVER — Pomona flexed its dominance once again on the wrestling mats during the 3-day state tournament at Ball Arena.

The Panthers captured their sixth straight Class 5A team title Saturday night racking up 250 points to distance themselves from second-place Ponderosa (215.5 points).

“State titles are important and hard to win,” Pomona coach Sam Federico said.

Pomona has won the team title in the largest classification eight of the last nine years and is now two state titles away from matching Ponderosa’s eight straight team titles won from 2003 to 2010.

Pomona sent six wrestlers — senior Geno Cardenas (126), sophomores Zaidyn Quinonez, Emmitt Munson (157), Emmerson Claeys (175), Kalob Ybarra (190) and freshman Ignacio Villasenor (113) — to the title bouts. Last season, Pomona set a new state record with 278.5 points after sending nine wrestlers to the finals and capturing five individual titles.

“It’s important to all of our guys to win as a team and individually,” Federico said. “They just have a really good mentality if they aren’t going to win (state title) they are going to come back and place third to get the team title.”

The Panthers qualified all 14 wrestlers to state and ended the tournament with a dozen individual placers who all finished in the top-4 of their weight class.

It was a bittersweet night for Pomona with Villasenor as the lone Panther to win an individual state title. Pomona went 1-5 in the title bouts.

“They are hurt for sure,” Villasenor said of the five second-place finishers. “It sucks being the only one that won, honestly.”

Villasenor, who has wrestled at the national level, took a 15-2 major decision in the 113-pound final. His closest match was a 9-0 major decision over two-time state champion — Pine Creek senior Everest Sutton.

“The kid he beat in the semifinals was a two-time state champions and he (Villasenor) beat him 9-0,” Federico said. “He didn’t give up anything but escapes all year. He is lightning quick and hard to deal with for anybody.”

The freshman is on the radar of joining the 4-timer club in three years, but that isn’t a priority for Villasenor.

“I would love to be a 4-timer, but I have higher goals than that,” Villasenor said. “If it happens it happens. If it doesn’t it doesn’t.”

Ponderosa wins four individual state titles

Sophomore Thomas Verrette became a 2-time state champion to help lead Ponderosa’s valiant effort at trying to knock off Pomona. Verrette took a 14-4 major decision over Poudre senior Nico Bekkedahl at 138 pounds.

“It is defintely frustrating,” Verrette said of Pomona clinching the 5A team title before the finals even with the Mustangs sending seven wrestlers to the championship bouts and winning four individual titles. “At the end of the day it’s an individual sport. You have to focus on yourself. The only way we are going to win a state team title is everyone do their job. Until that happens, we will be runner-up. The day is going to come when we beat Pomona.”

The Class 5A boys was the only classification not to have a wrestler attempting to become a 4-timer.

“The goal is to get the next one and then the next one,” Verrette said of being halfway to joining the 4-timer’s club. “Obviously everyone wants to be a 4-timer. Everyone talks about it. It is defintely a goal.”

Juniors Michael Lopez Jr. (126), Tyler Eise (175) along with senior Westin Hoffschneider (190) joined Verrette as individual state champions for Ponderosa. Eise took a tech fall to capture his second title.

Ponderosa senior Jacob Myers was trying to grab his third state title, but he suffered a 2-1 overtime loss in the 144-pound title bout to Poudre sophomore Billy Greenwood.

“It is about keep your see on the prize and next year finding a way for us to get better as a team and individuals,” Verrette said.

Future Air Force cadet makes history for Ralston Valley

Ralston Valley senior Lincoln Gregersen became the school’s first individual wrestling state champion. Ralston Valley High School opened in 2000.

“I’m relieved of course,” Gregersen said after grabbing the elusive state title. “I’m the one who has put the most pressure on myself over the last couple of years. I’ve really grown that way. I just wanted to have fun out there.”

Gregerson took a 5-0 shutout win over Ponderosa sophomore Jaylen Burge at 132 pounds. The Ralston Valley senior actually had a lot of support from rival Pomona crowd during his match.

“I train with the (Pomona) kids a lot,” Gregersen said about getting a lot of applause from the larger Pomona cheering section on the 5A mat. “I know all their families and all the kids on their team. It’s fun.”

Gergerson will had to the Air Force Academy after graduating this spring.

“I’m super excited,” Gregersen said of wrestling at Air Force the next four years. “It’s the best place for me.”

Can’t stop the Funk

Legacy senior Quinn Funk was the lone 5A wrestler who came into the finals as a returning state champion and undefeated on the season.

Funk completed his perfect 45-0 season with a second-period pin over Cherry Creek senior Jake Howell at 215 pounds. Funk won at 190 last season.

Class 5A state wrestling champions

  • 106: Cooper Mathews (Cherokee Trail)
  • 113: Ignacio Villasenor (Pomona)
  • 120: Griffin Rial (Pine Creek)
  • 126: Michael Lopez Jr. (Ponderosa)
  • 132: Lincoln Gregersen (Ralston Valley)
  • 138: Thomas Verrette (Ponderosa)
  • 144: Billy Greenwood (Poudre)
  • 150: Garrett Reece (Regis Jesuit)
  • 157: Banks Norby (Poudre)
  • 165: Charlie Herting (Grandview)
  • 175: Tyler Eise (Ponderosa)
  • 190: Westin Hoffschneider (Ponderosa)
  • 215: Quinn Funk (Legacy)
  • 285: Xavier Valentin-Bradford (Centaurus)