Shank’s title helps Olathe to 2nd-place finish in 3A
DENVER — Zach Shank may only be a freshman, but he can certainly appreciate the significance of what he accomplished Saturday evening.
The Olathe High School standout capped an impressive run through the 112-pound bracket in his first state tournament, holding off La Junta’s Kurtis Romero to capture the Class 3A state title with a 3-2 decision at the Pepsi Center.
Shank took a 3-0 lead through the first two periods before fighting off a determined Romero in the final period. Romero nearly had a takedown in the final seconds, but Shank was able to escape the throw attempt.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to know that I can win state as a freshman,” he said. “It’s the most amazing feeling ever.”
Shank’s title was the highlight of a solid tournament overall for the Pirates, who had seven wrestlers place in the top six. Olathe finished second in the 3A team standings behind Centauri with 120 points. Centauri finished with 153.5 points.
Kyle Piatt (152 pounds) and David Rhodes (215) each placed third. Kris Nieto (140) and Tyler Hawk (285) took fourth, Marvin Rivera (171) was fifth and J.C. Jimenez (160) placed sixth.
Shank, who said he believes Olathe has a legitimate shot at making a title run next season, understands the target on his own back just got a little bit bigger.
“I guess now I’m kind of getting known out there,” Shank said. “It’s going to make it tougher next year, but I’ll just push myself harder.”
Grand Valley entered the day with a chance at overtaking Centauri but ran into some tough competition in the finals. Each of the four wrestlers who had advanced to the finals lost in the championship match.
The Cardinals finished third overall with 100 points in their first year at the 3A level.
“The boys did a great job getting there,” Grand Valley coach Rick Gallegos said. “But you look at our competitors out there; just top-notch kids. It just wasn’t our night, I guess.”
Junior James Drinkhouse fell 14-2 in the 130-pound title match to Centauri’s Cahlen Keys.
Jared Tonder lost a marathon 18-16 decision to Centauri’s Phillip Sheridan at 140, Ryan Gallegos fell 8-2 at 145 to Brush’s Cole Kembel and Joe Joyner lost 12-4 at heavyweight to Centauri’s Vincent Chacon.
For Ryan Gallegos, it was the third consecutive loss in a state title match.
“It’s the nature of the beast,” Rick Gallegos said. “There’s always someone out there that’s going to get their hand raised at the end of the match. Unfortunately Ryan’s been on the other end of those three years in a row.”
Tonder gave up seven takedowns in his match but picked up nine points on escapes. A late reverse and a 3-point near fall cut the deficit to two points, but time ran out on the junior.
“It’s the state finals,” Tonder said. “It’s going to be the craziest no matter what. The whole experience is just overwhelming.”
Hotchkiss junior Michael Beard reached the 215-pound title match but was outlasted 5-2 by Jacob Hunter of Brush, who used a pair of reversals to earn the win. The Bulldogs’ Caleb Wyatt placed third at 145 pounds.
Gunnison’s Josh Roper placed fifth at 135.