Montrose’s Passehl wins 4A state title
DENVER — At first glance, Jordan Passehl of Montrose believed he had run out of time, and that his dreams of an undefeated state championship season had been cruelly dashed.
When Passehl lifted his head from the mat in the first few moments after his 189-pound title bout in the Class 4A wrestling finals, the first feeling that crawled through his gut was disappointment. Little did Passehl know that his furious comeback actually was a success, a fact confirmed when he finally noticed the excitement erupting from the Indians’ nearby cheering section.
Then the scoreboard finally caught up with the rapid rate of Passehl’s comeback, and his celebration finally began.
Passehl collected gold on Saturday by recording four points in the final 30 seconds of the match, including two decisive points in the waning moments, to defeat Dwight Howes of Arvada 5-4.
“To tell the truth, when the match was over, I looked at the clock and the score hadn’t changed yet. I thought I didn’t get the points and I was behind,” Passehl said. “Then I looked up at the crowd, and my mom and sisters were going crazy, and I thought maybe I did win but I didn’t want to celebrate yet. I waited until we shook hands and when it was said and done, it’s an awesome feeling. We haven’t done this at Montrose in a while.”
Although 171-pounder Bryce Gaber and 215-pounder Braxten Franz lost close matches in their championship bouts for Montrose, Passehl’s effort helped the Indians finish in third place with 104 points, trailing only Roosevelt (118 points) and 4A champion Broomfield (119.5).
Palisade 119-pound sophomore Daniel Salazar also saw his dreams of a state title end in the championship bout, as he was handed an 8-5 loss against Broomfield’s Cortland Hacker. The Bulldogs finished in ninth place with 56 points to post their first top-10 finish since 2003.
Passehl ended his season with a 43-0 mark, taking a bit of the sting away from the losses by Gaber and Franz. Gaber dropped a 6-1 decision to Broomfield’s Josh VanTine and Franz took an even more discouraging setback, losing 3-1 in overtime against Coltin Ostermiller of Ridgeview.
“Who would have ever thought we would take third place in the state tournament?” said first-year Montrose coach Kevin Passehl, who made a monumental impact on a team that finished in 14th with 40 points last year.
“Every kid came over here and wrestled as hard as they could. The new program is coming through. These kids have worked hard, and this is what you get for it.”
Although Salazar’s runner-up finish was the springboard for Palisade’s strong finish, the Bulldogs were able to crack the top 10 thanks to a strong team effort spearheaded by the work of senior Nick Stephanus and freshman Justin Ray in the consolation draw. Both athletes recorded three consolation wins, with Ray placing sixth in the 112-pound division and Stephanus taking fourth, at 215-pounds.
“We knew that we had a chance to get to this final stage with Daniel,” Palisade coach Brian Rush said. “The moves he hits, he is very slick with his moves. We fell just a little short tonight. He has nothing to feel bad about. Justin Ray came back. He had a rough first match and he ended up taking sixth. Nick Stephanus ended up taking fourth. And the other kids that didn’t place still wrestled hard for us. We’re proud of the team and how they showed up.”
Rifle’s 140-pound senior, James Martinez, finished fifth, winning the fifth-place match against Austin Harris of Windsor with a pin at the 1:37 mark. Delta junior Mykai DeHerrera capped a strong run through the consolation bracket by winning the fifth-place match against John Becker of Prairie View.