Thunder hope to take full squad to state
COLORADO SPRINGS - The Discovery Canyon Campus wrestling team is good. Very good.
So good, in fact, that there is decent likelihood that the Thunder could qualify all 14 of its wrestlers for the upcoming Class 4A state tournament.
“We're going to do our best to get `em all in,” said Discovery Canyon coach Ron Sukle. “To make 14 out of our regional would make a statement.”
Discovery Canyon will host the Region 1 tournament Feb. 15-16. It includes Lewis-Palmer Woodland Park, Mesa Ridge, Pueblo West, Cheyenne Mountain, Pueblo County, Sand Creek, Pueblo South, Air Academy, Canon City, Vista Ridge, Widefield, Pueblo East and Mitchell. The finals are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
An astounding 11 different Thunder wrestlers are ranked in the top 15 in the state in their weight class by On the Mat. Six of those grapplers are ranked in the top two - freshman Sam Turner (106 pounds, No. 2, 29-5 record), senior AJ Rees (113, No. 1, 27-1), senior Steve Turner (132, No. 2, 22-2), junior Tyler Oberg (145, No. 2, 30-5), junior Adrian Mack (170, No. 1, 26-3) and junior David Traynor (195, No. 2, 28-6).
“Those guys have done it all year,” Sukle said. But the rankings don't mean much. You still have to wrestle the matches.”
The Thunder has put its mettle to the test all season, participating in huge tournaments in and out of the state and usually coming out on top. It has a 14-1 dual meet record, with its only loss coming to Windsor, 38-33, on Jan. 17 at Windsor. The Thunder defeated 5A perennial state power Pine Creek, 54-20, on Feb. 7 in its final tune up.
“Broomfield and Windsor are going to be tough,” Sukle said. “We've tried to give our boys the best competition. But in wrestling it all comes down to your least two meets.”
The two meets Sukle referred two are this weekend's regional and the state meet - Feb. 21-23 at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
“It's a fun atmosphere, but it can be intimidating,” Sukle said. “It can really swallow a kid who gets caught up in the emotion.”
Rees is a two-time defending state champion. The Iowa State-bound star is working toward a three-peat, but a team championship is his primary objective.
“My No. 1 goal is the team title,” Rees said. “You always want to get those extra points. Whether that's a major decision, a tech fall or pins. It all makes a difference.”
Steve Turner won his first state title in 2012 and is hoping to repeat. He agreed with Rees that a strong team showing by all the Thunder wrestlers is a key to success.
“When your team is doing well you feel more motivated,” Turner said.
Mack took over the No. 1 ranking in his 170-pound weight class on Feb. 2 when he defeated Broomfield's Zach Stodden.
“The key is to wrestle smart and don't give up the easy take down,” Mack said.
Sam Turner is the new kid on the block. He was in middle school last year and rooted for his older brother to win a state title while sitting in the stands.
“Hard work will take you places,” Sam Turner said.
Traynor's main competition at state will be Arvada's Garet Krohn, who is ranked eighth nationally.
“I have to work hard and think right,” Traynor said. “I have to work better on my feet and underneath.”
Tyler Oberg has been consistent all season, including his two matches against Broomfield's Phil Downing - the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the 145-pound division.
“I lost to him twice, Oberg said. “But I'm closing the gap.”
Discovery Canyon's other ranked wrestlers are senior Tanner Reynolds (113, No. 14), senior Keaton Regenor (126, No. 8), senior Jeff Burbach (152, No. 15), senior Rickey Ray (160, No. 10) and senior Micah Bosseler (220, No. 15).
Filling out the Thunder's regional roster are seniors Kyle Arnold (138) and Jack Palmer (182) and junior Nick Duiker (heavyweight).