Olathe, Glenwood grapplers tasting more success after winning state football titles
DENVER — Few high school athletes get to experience the kind of sports year J.C. Jimenez is having.
The Olathe High School junior reached the pinnacle in two sports in a six-month span.
Jimenez played a big role in Olathe’s football fortunes during the fall. As a weakside linebacker, he helped the Pirates to an undefeated season and the Class 2A state football championship.
As a 160-pound wrestler, he advanced to the semifinals of the Class 3A state championships this weekend at the Pepsi Center and finished sixth.
Playing for the state football title at Legacy Stadium in Aurora was a thrill, he said.
“It was a heck of a football season, but I like wrestling more,” Jimenez said. “Out here (on the wrestling mat) you’ve got to go for yourself and just go for it. Out there (on the football field) you’ve got to worry about what you’re doing for the team.”
“It’s awesome to have that feeling twice,” he said of holding the football trophy and standing on the podium at the state wrestling tournament in the same year. “It’s an experience (I’ll) never forget.”
His teammate in both sports, Marvin Rivera, echoed Jimenez’s sentiments.
“I think it’s pretty cool that we do win,” Rivera said of the Pirates’ success on the football field and on the mat.
Like most athletes, Rivera experiences the normal pregame jitters before every contest. That was magnified prior to the state football championship game at Legacy Stadium and when he took to the mat Thursday for his first match at the Pepsi Center.
“At first you get way nervous,” Rivera said.
Then comes that first tackle or that first takedown, and the athletic instincts take over.
“You don’t pay much attention to the crowd,” said Rivera, who finished fifth at 171 pounds.
“Everything else just goes away.”
David Rhodes was one of the top running backs in the state this past fall, having signed a letter of intent earlier this month to attend Mesa State College to play football. He was also
Olathe’s 215-pound wrestler this season.
“It’s awesome to have a chance to help my team,” said Rhodes, who didn’t go out for wrestling until he was a junior.
Whether he’s on the field or the mat, “The main thing for me is, no matter what, I’ve got to get it done.”
He got it done Saturday, winning his third-place match.
Football is Rhodes’ passion, but he wrestled for self-satisfaction.
“You know when you get a win in the state tournament, you’ve done your job,” he said.
Yet another Western Slope wrestler got to experience that same sensation. Greg Orosz, a senior from Glenwood Springs, took fifth place in the 4A 285-pound division.
Being the only Glenwood wrestler to qualify for the state tournament, “It was in the back of my mind the whole time,” he said of being able to represent the school.
The electricity in the stands was evident in both sports.
“The atmosphere is pretty much the same,” Orosz said, comparing Legacy Stadium, where Glenwood won the state football title, and the Pepsi Center.
Not many athletes get to hold a state championship football trophy and stand on the medal platform at state wrestling in the same school year.
“It’s definitely special,” Orosz said.