DENVER — JT Skalecki and Hunter Tobiasson have left their mark on Grand Junction wrestling.
The two seniors wanted to be part of the rich wrestling tradition at the school, and now they are.
Saturday night at the Pepsi Center, they both won Class 5A state titles, and now both their names will be on wall with the long list of champions at the school.
"Amazing, it feels amazing," Skalecki said after winning the 170-pound title. "I hugged (coach) Cole (Allison), and he had tears in his eyes."
Similarly, Tobiasson admitted that he was kind of in a daze after winning his first state title — a second-period pin over Sam Hart of Cherokee Trail at 220 pounds.
"It didn't set in for a second. I got up and I was like 'What?' Then it hit me," Tobiasson said with a laugh.
Both Tobiasson and Skalecki couldn't stop grinning after their matches and after stepping off the podium.
The two best friends were just as happy that the other also won a state title.
"I'm just so happy J and I both got it and went two for two," Tobiasson said.
Tobiasson has been the dominant 220-pounder all season and capped his 41-0 season with his title. He was one of only two 5A wrestlers to go unbeaten on the season.
Ever since he suffered a 6-3 loss in last year's 220 finals, Tobiasson has had a photo of that disappointing defeat as the profile picture on his phone.
He smiled when thinking about that photo.
"That's out. That's gone. It's changing," he said with a laugh.
As dominating as Tobiasson was, Skalecki found it to be a challenging season — with all four of his loses in overtime to three different opponents. Two of those losses came against Cherry Creek's Kai Blake.
The 170-pound finals was Skalecki's redemption, winning the epic final battle 3-2.
After Friday's semifinal win, Skalecki said he was confident he could beat Blake, and said the key was to be aggressive early and try to get a lead. The strategy was evident after Skalecki scored the only takedown of the match early in the first period.
"I saw that opening and I hit the high cross and finished," he said about the takedown.
Then it became a battle of escapes and missed shots.
The rest of the match, the two evenly matched wrestlers battled, each taking and defending shots.
Blake scored a pair of escapes to tie the match at 2-2 going to the third period. Starting in the down position, Skalecki scored an escape 10 seconds into the third. The two spent most of the rest of the period locked up in the upright position, neither one able to gain an advantage.
"I'm confident in my bottom game," Skalecki said. "You have to be able to score that point (with an escape) especially in close matches."
With the one-point lead, Skalecki stayed aggressive but wrestled smart, never giving Blake an opening to get a clean shot.
After the clock hit zero, Skalecki jumped up and saluted the Grand Junction fans.
Tobiasson did the same after his win.
Both their reactions were a combination of the ultimate thrill laced with satisfaction.
Tobiasson just smiled when asked about going undefeated.
"That wasn't the goal, honestly, I would have rather lost halfway through he season, so I wouldn't have had the pressure," he said. "It was a relief getting the title because the goal is never to lose."
Both Tobiasson and Skalecki are thrilled to have their names etched as part of the Grand Junction wrestling lore.
That wrestling tradition is featured prominently around the school with the names of all the champions etched on boards fastened to walls in the lobby and other areas.
Skalecki was the 52nd individual to win a title for Grand Junction and Tobiasson the 53rd.
In total, Grand Junction has the most individual titles of any school in the state, now with 74 — including multiple winners.
Fruita senior Keegan Bailey battled an old nemesis in Alec Hargreaves of Rocky Mountain in the 5A 195-pound title match. The two have now wrestled four times with Hargreaves winning three.
Bailey wrestled well but came up short, losing 4-2 to settle for second place and cap his Fruita career with a 47-4 record.
"It was a great experience to walk in the Parade of Champions, and to be in the finals," he said. "It is frustrating to lose, but at the end of the day, it's not what defines me.
"Knowing that I did my best, that's what matters."
Two underclassmen for Grand Junction came back to medal Saturday.
After losing in a semifinal overtime match, Dawson Collins finished his junior season with a 40-2 record. He scored a 4-1 decision over Adrian Marquez of Castle View, the same wrestler Collins beat in the 120-pound finals last year.
Sophomore Kieran Thompson took fifth at 113.
Fruita Monument senior Casey Hudson, who made Friday night's semifinals, came back to earn a fifth-place medal.
Central wrapped up the state tournament with four medals in Class 4A.
Dre Martinez finished with a second straight bronze medal.
He wasted little time in the match. scoring a first-period pin at 138 pounds to wrap up his Central career.
Senior Shaun Stepisnik placed sixth at 182. Junior Jagger Wade and sophomore Davian Sandoval both made the semifinals but then had to battle back in the consolation bracket. Wade took fifth at 126 and Sandoval was fifth at 106.
Palisade senior Ricardo Valenzuela placed sixth at 220 pounds.